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19th Large Installation System Administration Conference—Abstract

Pp. 125–141 of the Proceedings

Awarded Best Paper!

Toward a Cost Model for System Administration

Alva L. Couch, Ning Wu, and Hengky Susanto, Tufts University


The core of system administration is to utilize a set of "best practices" that minimize cost and result in maximum value, but very little is known about the true cost of system administration. In this paper, we define the problem of determining the cost of system administration. For support organizations with fixed budgets, the dominant variant cost is the work and value lost due to time spent waiting for services. We study how to measure and analyze this cost through a variety of methods, including white-box and black-box analysis and discrete event simulation. Simple models of cost provide insight into why some practices cost more than expected, and why transitioning from one kind of practice to another is costly.
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Last changed: 12 Dec. 2005 ch
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