Engineering Software, Linux, and Operations. The website of Jack Neely.    

IT at the University

  December 8, 2005   Operations

Something was suggested to me and its true. There are two types of System Administrators at the University. There are those who understand the importance of the computer systems working together in unity. Where the entire system serves the needs of its users, is secure, and dependable. The second type of administrator is a person that believes they are hired to fix computer problems and make people happy.

In all cases, the individual computer as well as a complex IT infrastructure is meant to serve the people at the organization. However, there are many times when a user must be told “No” because what they request would degrade the performance of the IT infrastructure or degrade the services that IT is required to provide. In many cases the administrator must be aware enough that they need to understand the user’s problem and to be able to find a solution that does fit into the IT infrastructure. If you see your job as to make anyone and every happy then you will only provide the solutions dictated by the users rather than understanding and solving the actual problem.

When asked about a particular user, in the context of retrieving a file from the backups, a system administrator was not sure that the user’s computer was being backed up at all. He replied that one of the things on the list was a backup solution for the departmental staff. He also asked if we had any suggestions on what he could deploy “other than all going back to a distributed computing solution.” Yikes.

Unfortunately, it seems that most of the “system administrators” at the university are of the second type. Unable to use the existing systems that we have used to create and restore backups for years. Unable to think beyond what a user told them to do. Unable to grasp the larger concepts that keep IT working in a sane and manageable way.

Now I get to watch as the second type of computer administrator tears down a well build system that’s been proven and well used for years because a user said they didn’t want to have quota.

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