Years ago I visited Danga back before the Six Apart acquisition, when the company had its headquarters a couple of miles away and when Brad lived a block and a half down the street. Brad showed me some of their management tools -- almost all home-grown.
I mention that because today I stumbled on Dormando's [crappy] Operations Mantras. Dormando works for Six Apart, and he has the same philosophy I see in Brad. Relentless automation and merciless monitoring are the two secrets of efficient and effective system administration and operations management.
I only wish that someone had handed me this list of mantras when I started as a system administrator in the '90s. (Puppet and Xen would have been nice too.)