System Administration 101

Report
IST346: System Administration
Ch 1 & 2
Agenda
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Reading Discussion
What does a system administrator do?
SA Challenges
The SA Profession
Reading discussion
Reading Discussion
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Climbing out of the Hole?
Three time-saving policies for success?
What is a:
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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
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Three immediate time-saving policies
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Define and formalize how people get help.
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Define your scope of work
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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
What is supported
…at what levels
…at what time of day
Define Emergency
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Everything can’t be an emergency
Only mission critical should constitute emergency.
What is a system administrator?
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Key responsibility:
To look after computers, networks, and the
people who use them.
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We’d all like to believe these things could take care of
themselves, but …
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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?
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Prof @ MIT
Subtitle:
“Why good products can
fail, the personal computer
is so complex, and
information appliances are
the solution”
Penned in 1998:
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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
Easier for
User
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Greater
Complexity
Harder to
Administer
POTS -vs- 3G and 4G networks
Wired networking –vs- Wireless / WIFI
Laptops / Notebooks –vs- desktops / workstations
Sysadmins have many different job titles
Pick a Domain…
Pick a Role…
 System
 Operator
 Network
 Administrator
 IT
 Engineer
 Operations
 Specialist
 Windows/Linux/Unix
 Architect
 Security
And you’re well on your way to creating an SA job title! 
Helpdesks
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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.
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Helps senior level SA’s focus on projects.
As a manager you should:
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Test your helpdesk (take it for a test drive)
Measure and track its use and effectiveness
Example: iSchool IT Services Helpdesk
Triage
Lauren 1
Jr Sa.
Matt
Jr. Sa
Tom
Web
Mike C
1
LMS
Peggy
Sr. Sa
Mike
2
Labs
James
3
Request Tracking / Trouble Tickets
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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
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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”
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https://ot.syr.edu
Build on JIRA. Customizable.
What does an SA do???
Typical job duties of SA’s
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User management
Hardware Management
System backups and Restores
Deploy new systems and services
Monitoring (Systems / Services / Network)
Troubleshooting
Helping users
Job Duty: User Management
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Creating user accounts (NetID here at SU)
Integrating user identities into existing services
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Giving user accounts access to basic resources
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Printers
Websites
Provide self-service mechanisms
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Home and profile directories
Email
Ensuring users have access to the appropriate resources based
on their role(s):
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Nobody wants to keep track of 10 different usernames/PW’s!
http://its.syr.edu/netid/
Automate as much as possible!
Job Duty: Hardware Management
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Add/Remove hardware
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Evaluation, testing, and purchase of Hardware
Capacity Planning
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Configuration / device driver deployment / inventory
User Notification: Downtime / New Service Availability
How much disk space? Bandwidth?
Don’t over commit other resources: Network / printers.
Data Center Management
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Environmental controls in server rooms
Power consumptions
Job Duty: Data Backups
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Define a clear strategy and policy for your backups
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Devising backup plans, installing backup software
Test the restore process!
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How often? Hourly? Daily? Weekly? Monthly?
Where? On-site off-site?
What? User Data vs. operating systems vs. configurations.
Volume / Capacity: How much?
What good is backing up if you don’t know whether the
restore will work!
Monitoring backups
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Automate as much as possible.
If you’re not watching, how do you know its getting backed up?
Job Duty: Deploy new Systems / Services
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Evaluate, Test and Purchase Software and Services
Gravitate towards solutions that:
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Automate as much of the process as possible
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Use open standards
Promote reuse / can help with other problems
Test deployments!
Be mindful of your customers:
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Schedule downtimes
Notify users of what’s to come
Advertise new offerings
Document (User and Technical)
Job Duty: Monitoring
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If you’re not watching it, you’re not administering it!
What is usually monitored?
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Logging
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Performance / capacity issues (CPU, Memory, Disk, Network)
Error events
Security: Failed logons, successful logons, Attempts to access
unauthorized resources
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
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Troubleshooting is
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Get things back up ASAP, as a temporary fix only.
Then Fix things once / do a root cause analysis
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Problem identification,
Diagnosis and
Resolution
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
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Use a request tracking system
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Provide documentation and training
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Helps IT staff keep track of problems.
Can serve help with time tracking / accounting
Policies (Acceptable Use / Terms of Service)
How-To’s / Maps / Inventories
IT Organization Extras:
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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.
SA Challenges
Qualities of a successful SA
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Customer-focused
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Technical knowledge
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Solid communication skills
Ability to “sell” to customers
You’re providing a service!
Gracefully handle interruptions
Hardware, network and software knowledge
Good debugging and troubleshooting skills
Need to be able to “dig with your own shovel”
Time Management
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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
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You need:
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A wide range of knowledge and skills
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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:
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Short-term vs. long-term
User’s needs vs. organizational requirements and constraints
Policing vs. providing a service
Tried and true SA principles
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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.
The SA Profession
According to bls.gov 2008-2018 outlook
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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
This brings us to our sponsor of
the week….
Not to be confused with the lesser-known
LOPSA-OPSA
Professional Organizations for SA’a
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ACM (IT professional Organization)
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USENIX / SAGE (Special interest group for SA’s)
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http://www.sage.org/
NPA (Network professional association)
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http://www.acm.org/
http://www.npanet.org/
LOPSA (League of prof. SA’s)
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http://www.lopsa.org
Professional Certifications for SA’s
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Cisco:
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Microsoft:
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MCP, MCSA, MCSE
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/view-by-name.aspx
Unix/Linux:
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CCNA, CCNP, CCIE
http://www.cisco.com/web/learning/le3/learning_career_certifications_an
d_learning_paths_home.html
CompTia: Linux+ (Vendor Neutral)
http://www.comptia.org/certifications/listed/linux.aspx
RedHat: RHCE,
http://www.redhat.com/certification/rhce/
Sun Solaris: SCSAS, SCSA, SCNA
http://www.sun.com/training/certification/solaris/index.xml
General: (ICCP – part of ACM)
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http://www.iccp.org/iccpnew/index.html
Server Quest II
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http://www.microsoft.com/click/serverquest/
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A game that gives you an idea of what being an IT
admin is all about.
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In the classic “King’s Quest” style
Your go through a working day as an IT admin.
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“A Day in a Geek’s Life”
Questions?

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