True White-Knuckled Stories of Metrics in Action: Sylvan

In this blog series on SecurityWeek, Tenable CSO Marcus Ranum advises security professionals on how they can create and share metrics in their jobs. These metrics can create better understanding and awareness about the success of their approaches, as well as allow them to build support for programs and funding requests.

When you start your metrics program, you will find that a great deal of information can be gleaned from existing data that gets stored in various places....

When I was a junior systems administrator just out of college, I worked at a major hospital as a systems analyst in the clinical systems group. This was around 1987 or so, back in the days when a 400 Megabyte hard drive cost $30,000 and weighed 300 pounds, and Sun Workstations ran 4.2BSD and the UNIX operating system was a pretty stripped-down thing we'd consider a “micro kernel” by today's standards. We had a couple of Pyramid 9020s that ran Ingres databases, which were accessed via ASCII terminals and the Sun Workstations. Back in those days, the Pyramids were considered as having very fast I/O, perfect for database machines, because Pyramid had put a lot of work into developing smart I/O controllers that rearranged disk writes and cached, and a bunch of clever stuff. But there was a problem: ours often crashed. And when they crashed, the Ingres databases would get corrupted and life was not good for system administrators who had to come in at 3am to restart the system and get the databases back online. We were literally on the cutting edge of client/server computing in UNIX-land, and we bled a lot.

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