I was asked to respond to this post: System Administration; an insider
This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 26th, 2007 at 4:57 am and is filed under SysAdmin. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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funny a lot
Very succint and pragmatic article.
Excellent post. I’ve found the biggest difference between a good and excellent sysadmin is the good sysadmin will be work a few days to solve a problem – an excellent sysadmin won’t be able to sleep until they’ll solved it.
Terrific post Ben.
> an excellent sysadmin won
Cailin: Absolutely. During a big push on a project (20 hour days for over a week straight, no time for rest) I got to a breaking point where all I could think about was quitting my job and moving to Hawaii to sell melons on the side of the road.
Burnout is a big BIG problem. And we too often think its part of the job. Thats a damned lie, a ego driven myth thats absolutely destructive.
We all have to be reminded, sleep has been proven to be one of the most powerful mental and physical regenerative tools at your disposal. While you sleep your brain consolidates memories and pushes them from short term to long term memory. Sleeping more WILL make you a better admin. You’ll re-learn things less often and remember more. Plus, its fun!
Cuyler: an excellent sysadmin makes sure the problem never occurs, preferably by raising the right flag with the right people. An excellent sysadmin doesn’t whine and will be listened to when he’s got a point to make. For me, the difference between a skilled sysadmin and an excellent sysadmin has to do with:
a) excellent social skills and a good feel for the organisational
structure and culture. Be part of it all, don’t stand aside, stay in touch.
b) being able to translate from business to functional specs to tech: speak the right language and give a solid motivation. This makes sure you’re taken seriously.
c) finding the right solution for a problem, as objectively as possible. Let go of that hammer or everything turns into nails. Be clear about your limitations and find a solution elsewhere when needed. You don’t have to do everything personally, but make sure the organisation is served correctly.
d) additionally, make sure you’re not needed! Document, delegate, make sure everyone knows what’s going on. Make sure this is thoroughly tested by taking holidays (bring the phone, though )
A fantastic article deserving many comments, though I have but one: the one single emphasized word is by far the most important bits.
Hmmm, quite a few admins got into the field because they want to avoid dealing with people. Social skills are painful for introverts.
Oh, and sysadmins need an eye for detail.
Eric: I’ve seen many sysadmins of the introvert type, often highly skilled on a technical level. They do need an interface to the organisation, though. I’ve seen sysadmins getting disgruntled, because they didn’t feel understood or appreciated by “them” (management), while management complains of lack of control. Most users and managers don’t know about the many ways in which technology can be used to improve their work. Who’s going to talk to them and make sure they’re served well? Many admins would be able to do so much more for their employers, if only they understood what’s going on.
Great article. A whole bunch of high quality articles, really. I would like to make a comment on the reference to “long hours”. When there is a problem, I know that I am expected to work until it’s fixed. I know that I can (and will) be paged at any hour while on call, and that I will stay up all night on a weekend night 6-10 times a year for shceduled maintenance. I know there is effectively no comp time for this, it’s part of the job.
Therefore, when there ISN’T a problem, I think I should be able to leave after an approximately 8 hour workday without comment, not be given a lengthy, non-time critical task late in the day, and expected to finish it that day, and not be otherwise delayed when its time to go.
Excellent list there Ben and some very cogent advise as well.
The three major things we all should strive for are (imo) –\
a) Understand the mechanics of whatever we’re dealing with
b) Understand how it all fits into a larger picture (not just the puzzle within the puzzle)
c) Be lazy and automate like crazy — I’m sure we can all agree that a lot of the “mess” that we try and fix is caused by humans (either someone else or ourselves).
Great, spot on.
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