Reading Discussion Climbing out of the Hole? Three time-saving policies for success? What is a: SA? (Two definitions) Helpdesk? Trouble-ticket / request management system?
Climbing Out of the Hole? Don’t spend all your time addressing the symptoms of a problem, fix the underlying cause. As the text said, “spend time to fix the leaky pipe vs. spending all your time mopping up the water” Generally money and time to do it right the first time
Three immediate time-saving policies Define and formalize how people get help. Do you know how to get computer help on campus? Like a business… advertise your hours of operation and rules of engagement during off-hours Define your scope of work What is supported …at what levels …at what time of day Define Emergency Everything can’t be an emergency Only mission critical should constitute emergency.
What is a system administrator? To look after computers, networks, and the people who use them. Key responsibility: To look after computers, networks, and the people who use them. We’d all like to believe these things could take care of themselves, but … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfiQYRn7fBg&feature=playe r_embedded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfiQYRn7fBg&feature=playe r_embedded Do we really need people to do this?
Did Norman have it figured out? Prof @ MIT Subtitle: “Why good products can fail, the personal computer is so complex, and information appliances are the solution” Penned in 1998: More than a decade ago.
Which Phone is more complex? Easier to use? Why do they both exist? Phone A Phone B?
Why use “A” when “B” is easier to use? Product A Product B
As devices get easier, SA gets harder POTS -vs- 3G and 4G networks Wired networking –vs- Wireless / WIFI Laptops / Notebooks –vs- desktops / workstations Easier for User Greater Complexity Harder to Administer
Sysadmins have many different job titles Pick a Domain… Pick a Role… System Network IT Operations Windows/Linux/Unix Security Operator Administrator Engineer Specialist Architect And you’re well on your way to creating an SA job title!
Helpdesks The “public face” of your organization; the most important element. Helpdesk should be a friendly, pleasant experience. Define hours of operations and have instructions for what your customers can do and expect off-hours. Designate a shield – a person or persons responsible for triage and level “1” type requests. Helps senior level SA’s focus on projects. As a manager you should: Test your helpdesk (take it for a test drive) Measure and track its use and effectiveness
1 Example: iSchool IT Services Helpdesk Triage Lauren Jr Sa. Matt Jr. Sa Tom Web Mike C LMS Peggy Sr. Sa Mike Labs James 1 2 3
Request Tracking / Trouble Tickets Track ALL calls / requests even the 5 minute fixes. Shows management how busy your team really is. If you approach management asking for a new hire(s), have some data to defend your request. Compare your data against industry metrics, such as how many desktops your staff is supporting vs. what common benchmarks are. You may find you need to work smarter, not that you need more people. Many good packages available RT (used at SU) Service Desk (used at SU) Track-IT (used at SU) Try to get the entire IT staff to use a common tool. Saves time on duplicate data entry from system A to system B
Example: SU “Orange Tracker” https://ot.syr.edu https://ot.syr.edu Build on JIRA. Customizable.
Typical job duties of SA’s User management Hardware Management System backups and Restores Deploy new systems and services Monitoring (Systems / Services / Network) Troubleshooting Helping users
Job Duty: User Management Creating user accounts (NetID here at SU) Integrating user identities into existing services Nobody wants to keep track of 10 different usernames/PW’s! Giving user accounts access to basic resources Home and profile directories Email Ensuring users have access to the appropriate resources based on their role(s): Printers Websites Provide self-service mechanisms http://its.syr.edu/netid/ http://its.syr.edu/netid/ Automate as much as possible!
Job Duty: Hardware Management Add/Remove hardware Configuration / device driver deployment / inventory User Notification: Downtime / New Service Availability Evaluation, testing, and purchase of Hardware Capacity Planning How much disk space? Bandwidth? Don’t over commit other resources: Network / printers. Data Center Management Environmental controls in server rooms Power consumptions
Job Duty: Data Backups Define a clear strategy and policy for your backups How often? Hourly? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Where? On-site off-site? What? User Data vs. operating systems vs. configurations. Volume / Capacity: How much? Devising backup plans, installing backup software Test the restore process! What good is backing up if you don’t know whether the restore will work! Monitoring backups Automate as much as possible. If you’re not watching, how do you know its getting backed up?
Job Duty: Deploy new Systems / Services Evaluate, Test and Purchase Software and Services Gravitate towards solutions that: Use open standards Promote reuse / can help with other problems Automate as much of the process as possible Test deployments! Be mindful of your customers: Schedule downtimes Notify users of what’s to come Advertise new offerings Document (User and Technical)
Job Duty: Monitoring If you’re not watching it, you’re not administering it! What is usually monitored? Performance / capacity issues (CPU, Memory, Disk, Network) Error events Security: Failed logons, successful logons, Attempts to access unauthorized resources Logging Helps determine when new hardware or services are needed. Rotate logs / Back them up if required Send alerts to common problems (TXT / Pager) Take appropriate actions, as required. Automate as much as possible! Define “Emergency” Do you want to work 24x7?
Job Duty: Troubleshooting Troubleshooting is Problem identification, Diagnosis and Resolution Get things back up ASAP, as a temporary fix only. Then Fix things once / do a root cause analysis Get to the “heart” of the problem Quite difficult, time consuming, but worth it. Have a notification mechanism for unexpected downtime.
Job Duty: Helping Users Use a request tracking system Helps IT staff keep track of problems. Can serve help with time tracking / accounting Provide documentation and training Policies (Acceptable Use / Terms of Service) How-To’s / Maps / Inventories IT Organization Extras: Define “Emergency” (can’t state this enough) Have clear-cut definitions for your defined priorities Successful organizations are “High visibility”- and don’t keep their customers in the dark.
Qualities of a successful SA Customer-focused Solid communication skills Ability to “sell” to customers You’re providing a service! Gracefully handle interruptions Technical knowledge Hardware, network and software knowledge Good debugging and troubleshooting skills Need to be able to “dig with your own shovel” Time Management Ability to prioritize tasks and handle multiple simultaneous requests. Self discipline to perform key duties on a routine basis. (eg. monitoring)
The challenges of being an SA You need: A wide range of knowledge and skills One day it’s databases, the next it’s printers! To work well and efficiently under pressure. To learn the fine art of saying no To be flexible, tolerant, and patient. To accept you might have to work on Sunday at 3AM. Be able to balance conflicting requirements in your job: Short-term vs. long-term User’s needs vs. organizational requirements and constraints Policing vs. providing a service
Tried and true SA principles Simplicity – the simplest solution that solves the entire problem is the best solution Clarity – choose a solution that is easy to change, maintain and support by your peers. Generality – always choose solutions that support open standards and promote reuse. Automation – use software to replace human effort whenever possible. Communication – talk to your customers; document what you do; keep people in the loop. Basics First – solve the simple infrastructure problems before attacking the advanced ones.
According to bls.gov 2008-2018 outlook Network, System, and Database Administration are high growth fields. Estimated creation of 286,600 new jobs during this period. A 30% job growth Median wages in private sector $70k, in education $56k Looks to be a high-demand employable skill for the next decade
Server Quest II http://www.microsoft.com/click/serverquest/ http://www.microsoft.com/click/serverquest/ A game that gives you an idea of what being an IT admin is all about. In the classic “King’s Quest” style Your go through a working day as an IT admin. “A Day in a Geek’s Life”