A guide on fixing frequently encountered monitoring issues and advice from Duncan Ferguson (Opsview's Technical Expert) on what makes a good...
You are here
How to Suck as a SysAdmin
Work a 9 to 5 – it’s just a job
Fall out of bed, get in to work, do your job and go home at 5 on the dot. You work with computers all day and don’t need to be dealing with them at night am I right?! Chill out, have a beer and forget about those pesky servers till tomorrow, they aren’t going anywhere and you don’t do ‘on-call’. Why have an interest in what you do that will only temper the lines of work and leisure…it’s just a job. Self-high five.
The reality: A good SysAdmin (like any successful profession) has an interest and passion for what they do, whether that’s owning a network of computers at home or upskilling themselves in their free time.
Reboot – 60% of the time it, it works every time
When there’s a problem why waste time looking through logs and directories when you can just turn something off and back on again? After all, this almost always works and chances are the problem won’t resurface again. If it does you’ll probably be on break or at home (even better).
The reality: Is your instinctive response to a problem to turn it off and back on again? Nice one genius we can all do that, how are you going to fix it?
Build an Empire (1)
Avoid wasting time identifying and fixing problems and instead start a fresh, out with the old and in with the new. Forget fixes and patches, start over and build the infrastructure empire in your idol, you’re the boss and new stuff ‘always’ works. Plus the more toys you have to play with the more important you are.
The reality: Obsessing about removing the old and starting over by replacing for the sake of replacement highlights a lack of knowledge. These aren’t just your toys to play with and chances are if something hasn’t been replaced before it’s for good reason.
It’s my empire and only mine (2)
Let’s face it, you were hired to do a job so you may as well do it exactly how you want it. No one else needs to know about passwords and don’t even bother documenting changes or upgrades it’s a waste of time. Besides, someone else will only screw it up if they get involved.
What if you’re not there?
That’s not important, that’s their problem.
The reality: The systems and servers belong to the company. Keeping passwords to yourself and neglecting documentation is unprofessional and inefficient, it’s nice being the centre of the universe but it doesn’t make sense for the business or you.
When bugs and errors crop up and with increasing regularity it’s likely the fault of that new guy who cut ahead of you in the coffee line. Or maybe it’s that legacy system you’ve been wanting rid of for so long but keep getting fobbed off with ‘cost’ issues. Either way these problems aren’t anything to do with you, blame away.
The reality: Bugs and errors happen with regularity, it’s up to you as a SysAdmin to investigate and fix it. This is why you got in the job. Blaming old infrastructure or other people isn’t going to do any good.
Ignore Company Policies
Rules are in-place for a reason and even though company policy dictates to all employees you’re excluded. Why else would you hold all the passwords, power and control in the empire? You monitor internal chat and now know that Sarah from accounts favorite colour is blue and that she likes to walk her Chihuahua ‘Duchess’ at 6:30 after work. This doesn’t make you creepy - it makes you good at your job.
The reality: Estalking, prevention of IT services (because you don’t like them), and generally being in-control for the sake of it isn’t a great idea. SysAdmins are in privy positions and have to be professional too.
Business Understanding – and not needing it
Focus solely on your role, you’re here to be the computer janitor and make sure everything is working. Wider business functions aren’t important and they don’t affect you so don’t waste your time being caught up in office politics and budgets. If you don’t get something you want just revert to the blame game (it can’t fail).
The reality: IT doesn’t sit apart from the rest of the company so you need to be aware why a business makes decisions even if you don’t like them.
More like this
So, last Friday night, I decided to turn my infrastructure into code by learning Ansible, and capture the entire demo configuration, so that, in...
Serving as a primer for beginner sysadmins and always relevant reminders for seasoned IT professionals, here are five core lessons sysadmins...