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The Decline and Fall of System Administration

snydeq (1272828) writes | more than 3 years ago

Unix 2

snydeq writes "Deep End's Paul Venezia questions whether server virtualization technologies are contributing to the decline of real server administration skills, as more and more sysadmins argue in favor of re-imaging as a solution to Unix server woes. 'This has always been the (many times undeserved) joke about clueless Windows admins: They have a small arsenal of possible fixes, and once they've exhausted the supply, they punt and rebuild the server from scratch rather than dig deeper. On the Unix side of the house, that concept has been met with derision since the dawn of time, but as Linux has moved into the mainstream — and the number of marginal Linux admins has grown — those ideas are suddenly somehow rational.'"
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Standards are falling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35353852)

This is nothing new. As IT becomes more "mainstream" standards fall. We no longer require admins who know how to find, diagnose and fix system problems. Apparently, admins who know how to install, patch, backup and restore.

In relation, the last time I needed a (managed) server backup up our project was charged 8 hours to take an image (of a non-Production midrange server).

I love outsourcing. Really.

Yes, really 8 hours.

Re:Standards are falling (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#35354820)

    I'd argue against the mainstream portion of that. It seems the fault lies with the management of those employees. Lower quality employees are allowed to stagnate in high pay entry level positions. They aren't pushed to learn or grow beyond their initial skillset. As I've seen with most companies lately, once you walk in the door, the pay rate you signed on at is all you'll ever see. Responsibilities may be inherited, but rarely is training given other than "go figure it out".

    Consider how many people in the IT world that you've known. How many were sent off for any sort of specialized training to advance them in their career? Probably very few. Employers aren't hiring career employees. They are hiring someone to do what they were hired to, and when they start to slack because they're bored or recognize there is no possibility for advancement, they go looking for more work.

    I've learned a lot over the years, and virtually none has been through further training. The only exception is that I went off for a CCNA class. That was paid totally out of pocket. A friend wanted to prepare himself for a better career, so I took the class with him. As I discovered, I had already learned everything that would be needed through real world experience. Years of trial and error had prepared me for the CCNA test. Well, with the exception of some Token Ring and ISDN stuff (it was still on the test then). That's not to say I'm a know it all. I really wanted to go for the more advanced work. I recognized what I could learn, and I'd only scratched the surface with my real world experience. Well, as the teacher told me frequently in after-class discussion, my questions were for the CCNP class. Work scheduling conflicts prevented me from continuing the classes.

    As a sysadmin, you can learn an awful lot by understanding the network your equipment sits on. There doesn't need to be a separation of network/systems/database staff. If you learn and understand all of it, the groups can work together a lot more efficiently.

    But as you said, companies aren't looking for sysadmins who know all the intimate details of the system they're working on any more. They want someone who can install with the GUI assisted installer. They can patch. Backups and restores are sadly ignored in the real world. But hey, if you can do those too, you're a senior sysadmin. Finding "real" sysadmins, who know the system, can tell what's wrong from a few basic symptoms, install programs from source, and fix or modify that source are becoming harder to find.

    Part of it is that things have become so easy for us. I haven't had to make my own patches for the Linux kernel in an awful long time. I was helping to maintain an ancient system a few years ago. I was drawing on knowledge that was mostly forgotten to fix known bugs that were fixed years ago.

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