I am writing a new book on System Administration Ethics

Updated: July 16, 2018

Happy news. A few weeks ago, my proposal for a new book topic - that of System Administration Ethics - has been accepted by a big-name publisher. With the contract signed and writing underway, I can now talk a little more about this endeavor.

First, a little bit of context. In 2015, my problem solving book came out. I loved it; the sum of my work experience and knowledge, the combination of industry tricks and scientific methodologies, statistical engineering, best practices, and Linux Voodoo magic. 'Twas a heavy, detail-rich tech book, through and through. Now, a colleague of mine - a friend and ex-manager to be exact - had a suggestion. Why don't we write a book that shows not only how to do system administration right, but also why. Because for every action, there's also an ethical reaction.


Once upon a time, there was a server

System Administration Ethics is not something that springs to mind when you think about data centers, servers and tech guys hammering furiously on the keyboard. Far from it, it sounds soft, boring, mundane. Which is what makes this concept - and the idea of this book - so compelling.

Between the rack and a hard case (a legal one, if you will), what do you do?

The relevance of this topic is everywhere around us. As security breaches become more common, businesses need to protect themselves when facing ethical dilemmas in today's digital landscape. This book will weld technology with ethics by providing the clarity, awareness, and understanding for running a safe and ethically correct environment with separation of duty, account segmentation, administrative groups and data protection.

System Administration Ethics is a novel book in that introduces the color of human dynamics, ethics and behaviors into the black and white world of system administration, security policies and code. Businesses now need to protect themselves when facing an ethical dilemma in a digital landscape. We believe and hope that this book will serve as a principal guideline in helping system administrators, engineers – as well as their managers, an odd developer or two as well, 'cuz we're all friends, right – on coping with the ethical challenges of technology and security in the modern data center.

We also have to make sure it is not boring!

To wit, this book will provide real-life stories, scenarios, and use cases from companies both large and small. It will also address the ethical problems and challenges that people working with customer data, security and system administration may face in the cyber world. This book will provide readers with boundaries and tools for remaining ethical in an environment where it is so easy to step over a line - intentionally and accidentally.

Remember, even the good guys can get fired!

The contents of this book should help clarify the ethical rules of engagement, best policies and practices, and proactive "building/strengthening" behaviors without falling prey to regulations, bureaucracy and paperwork - we don't want any Vogon style clerkology! System Administration Ethics aims to be a relatable, hands-down guide on ethics and trust side by side with the hectic, fast-growing world of Cloud and DevOps. Some buzzwords are mandatory, pray excuse me.


Well, if you are, here are a few more pointers:

Our book will be unique in that it straddles the world of technology and ethics. Most publications focus on either the former or the later, but they rarely touch on the delicate and complex interaction between the two. System Administration Ethics will provide the clarity, awareness and understanding into concepts and ideas that are currently not well defined - as well as (understandably) hated and detested by tech folks.

System Administration Ethics is a book written by people on the ground. It is not an isolated manifesto of disembodied ideas that work well in theory but fail miserably in practice. Like you, I am not keen on any fancy long-worded we-believe mission statements.

This is a soldier's book, right from the data center trenches. P.S. Data centers actually do have trenches - most of the cooling, electricity and other piping goes under the floor, so technically, every aisle is a bridge over a moat. Indeed.

Data center

Image credits: freeimages.com/brcwcs.

Now, System Administration Ethics is built on decades of work in corporate offices, small business, and hyperscale cloud and engineering environments, with lessons learned from difficult situations and problems with real impact on customers. System Administration Ethics is founded in experience of not only things that work, but more importantly, those that do not.

Lastly, ethics is a topic rarely discussed or even touched in the world of system administration. Most techies shy away from "soft" areas. However, the unstoppable explosion of data and connectedness (forgive the word) around the globe puts technology on a collision course with ethics. We have all read and seen about this breach and that breach, about privacy violations and security scandals. System Administration Ethics is poised to be a trailblazer in defining the middle ground between worlds of ethics and code.

Well, that's enough buzzwords for now. This book should hit the shelves in autumn 2019.

I will keep you updated on the progress. Stay tuned.