How to Hire an LDAP or Monitoring Consultant

Here’s some things to look for in hiring any Linux or UNIX expert, but especially LDAP or monitoring experts:

(NOTE: THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE LIST; JUST ONE VERY GOOD LOW BAR)

  1. Many hiring managers would miss this: Command-line editing speed is an extension of typing, really just a mechanical skill but a foundation for so much more. Seems small but if they can’t quickly recall commands from their shell history using vi- or emacs-mode editing, they can’t quickly iterate through the combinations that are needed sometimes especially in troubleshooting. They should be as fast as they should be with a UNIX shell, which is to say, as fast as possible without going too fast! Someone who has this skill makes commandline changes with fluidity, conjuring long complex syntax for commands at the same speed they can think. It’s extremely good in a test environment, where rapid change and rapid trials of combinations are the tools of the trade. Using UNIX without good command-line editing is like playing ping-pong without a paddle.
  2. Appropriate restraint: they are careful about making changes, providing clear rational, backing, prior experience and/or testing before altering production configurations. A perfect complement to item #1, like a steady hand complements an ink pen.
  3. LDAP consultants must be well versed in LDAP command line tool suite as well as python-ldap and Net::LDAP. They should be able to describe and demonstrate loading LDAP servers from LDIF as well as from a binary backup.
  4. Monitoring consultants should know Nagios, SNMP, agent Best Practice, UNIX scripting in bash, perl, python. They should be able to give very good descriptions of pros/cons to various agent methods.
  5. Very good TCP/IP debugging skills and knowledge are remarkably rare. Have them explain the difference between UDP and TCP. Also ask them how they would diagnose a slow service (service response time) issue.
  6. Finally, check samples of their prior communications and documentation. You will need clear docs and communications for the complex solutions they will provide.