Yet, for our team, finding a talented system administrator is impossibly
hard. The production environment for RoR is evolving every day,
requiring the rare sys admin who has development skills. I haven't
interviewed any sys admins yet who have the ability to understand such
issues as the Mongrel threading problem.
Eh, what "threading issue" is that? Maybe I shouldn't be a sysadmin.
Can the list offer any advice on how to find a good sys admin. I think
we need either a sys admin with development skills or a sys admin with
prior experience in RoR deployment. I'm not sure if the latter even
exists. They are probably kept in a vault by their companies =)
Why don't you advertise for a Configuration Manager and a junior system administrator to assist them? The CM's job would be specifically to "automate every that isn't nailed down", the junior's job is to do what the CM says.
This person wouldn't be a sysadmin or a developer, but instead someone who's had experience managing/automating the deployment, control, versioning, and testing of applications. They'd also be given the power to reject releases if they don't pass quality requirements. They're the person who knows what svn revisions and changes are on each machine and collect metrics on deployment efficiency, up time, automation quality, etc.
People who are good as CMs are folks who have backgrounds in logistics or operations research. Coders and sysadmins are notoriously bad at these kinds of problems.
That might be more what you need.