Weeknote #4

Website work

I really crushed it last week to finally get the web hosting website done. And apart from minor touches, it’s done and online. I decided to keep the site under wraps, though, to ceremonially reveal it at the Drupal Developer Days that take place in Munich next weekend.

IT infrastructure

Let me tell you: It takes a lot of effort to make IT management effortless. While I still stand by my decision to automate everything from the start, it’s not always easy to accept the price of a lot more preparation work. Just whipping up some servers wouldn’t have taken me that long, but if you want to build automated processes, you have to think them through before you spend even more time implementing them. I had planned to go live with our Drupal hosting products in April, but there was just too much tech to handle.

(Warning: Sysadmin talk ahead) Last week, I decided to upgrade Chef to 0.8 because 0.7 has seemed really outdated for some time now and I experienced some confusing behaviour with our installation, too. The upgrade took almost a whole work day because one new component called RabbitMQ didn’t want to start but neither didn’t give useful error messages. I had to do some test installations on fresh servers and eventually found the cause in a discrepancy between DNS and the /etc/hosts file. Additionally, a software packaging bug in the chef-server package (a wrong symlink, as I later found out) broke the Javascript that’s essential for the Chef web interface. That wasn’t a big deal, though, because Chef 0.8 introduces a new utility called Knife that lets you manipulate configuration data from the command line. And no GUI is as good as no GUI.

Working with tools like Chef is an investment that’ll pay off eventually: With those automated processes, we’ll have to invest minimal effort into maintaining and growing our infrastructure later.

Business Development

Getting the Drupal hosting website ready was my main goal for last week, and I’m happy to have reached it. Now I’m preparing my talks for the Drupal Dev Days which will draw some traffic to the website — hopefully by many new Drupal hosting customers.

After the conference, I’ll concentrate on creating website content in the form of blog posts, knowledge base articles and podcasts.

Family life

I have to admit, starting a business while my girlfriend is writing her thesis isn’t the best timing. When both parents are busy-busy-busy with deadlines looming, even the question who does the grocery shopping can become a conflict — let alone the one who’ll spend the next hours out on the playground with our 2-year-old.

That’s where I’m grateful for Gary Vaynerchuck’s calming first rule in “Crush It!”: Family first. Always.