The Network Administrator's Survival Guide
By Douglas Chick
be a good network administrator is to have your end users love you. To be a
great network administrator is to have your users too scared to ask you for
help. The first kind, the good administrator, will allow you a modest job,
with meager wages and your every moment dictated by everyone from the
girl at the front desk to the owners relatives, and perhaps even their
friends and neighbors. A great network administrator has an executive position with the company, makes what those lying salary surveys report that your position makes, and to honor
you, two people from accounting are thrown into a volcano once a year. The one thing that makes a good network administrator a great network administrator is nothing more than attitude.
Now, I know many of you are thinking; what about
skill, knowledge and sheer computer genius? Doesn't that determine whether
you're a good or a great Network Administrator? My answer to that is; yes it
does, and in your first year as a network administrator, you'll need
every bit of that and sometimes more. But what I'm talking about is once the
music stops and all the servers are running as they should be and all your backups are
backing up and all you're doing is sitting around waiting for something to
crash. And waiting, and waiting, and waiting. It's during this part of your
career as a network administrator that no one or book has fully prepared you
for. In that year you've been so busy administering the seven layers of the
OSI model, you've never noticed that two more have been added; company
politics and budget! Now you're in the real world of Network Administration.
layers of the OSI Model:
2. Datalink 3. Network 4. Transport 5. Sessions 6. Presentation 7.
Applications 8. Budget and 9. Politics
Yes, Budget and Politics,
you won't read those two in any textbook. Why, because most computer geeks
only think in terms of a mathematical progression and are not ready for such
abstract thought. Something as simple as requesting a computer part may fall
under the eighth layer of the OSI model. Why would anyone refuse us the parts we need to repair
mission critical servers? Ask an airline mechanic about Budget and Politics.
One told me if the public knew how cheap airlines are, we'd all go back to
covered wagons. The
word budget is only used in two cases, A. When you ask for a raise, and B.
When they want you to perform the impossible, but only give you a budget for
a small miracle. Case B. Has a much simpler solution than does A; Projects
with little money will never get off the ground in the first place and if
they do, just make sure you document everything with e-mail because
ultimately they will try to blame you for its failure instead of admitting
that company nepotism runs like a mad cow in an English shire. It's
important that you request and document, otherwise you're going to add,
"Contractor" behind your Network Administrator title.
What does this have to do with computers, you might ask? Everything!
Budget are the first rule of survival in the world of being a computer
professional. Understanding these basic survival methods will help you
aspire to become a Great Network Administrator. Of course, there's also the
possibility that listening to me will get you fired. If this is the case,
please read my article on looking for a new job in a slow economy.
Politics: Politics is not the affairs of
government but instead the hidden affairs that govern every office
workplace. Many computer people don't understand this and are quickly torn
to pieces. Things that you say to other computer people are either
inappropriate or not understood by the normal end-user. And who is the
end-user: everyone. End-users have already pre-judged you as a geek,
techno-wizard, porn cruiser or a social reject. The reason for this is
because we are, geeks, techno-wizards, porn cruisers and social rejects. The
real difficulties are that we, not all of us, but enough of us can not
communicate well with those we try to help. Is it because they are too
stupid to understand you? Of course it is. If they weren’t they would fix
their own computer and then we’d all be in jail for hacking the planet.
Hmm...I mean, be in construction. I know we all don't like to admit to
the fact that their main purpose is to help make people's jobs easier.
There's no question that the perfect computer job would be one where no
people interaction takes place, but it does, and regardless of what your
position is, you are there to help people. I know I don't like it either.
But being the case, before you can understand office politics, you must
first understand those you work with and how they see you.
||Why end-users don't like
||1. You make more than they do.
||2. No one knows or understands what
you do, and when you try to explain it, they think you are trying
to make them feel stupid.
||3. You get to go out for lunch,
while they sit at their desk and eat microwave vomit.
||4. When you are at their desk, no
matter how well you think you are hiding it, the shrine of cat
pictures around their monitor turns your stomach.
||5. Their boss is afraid of your
explaining to you for twenty minutes what their problem is and
what they think you should do to fix it, you simply say:
"Reboot." And walk away.
||7. And of course, you can always
tell what they lack in their daily dietary requirements from the
food crumbs that are shaken from their keyboards. I personally like
to shake their keyboard out onto a white paper and tell them they
need more iron. I should probably quit doing that.
||8. They think we are arrogant. J
||9. Never fix an end-users home
computer, because they will never be happy with it and you will be
pulling it out of their trunk for the rest of your life.
||Other Topics I'll
cover in later Articles
||1. The difference in wearing a tie
to scare your supervisor and just looking for a raise.
When to encouraging others to quit.
Why the Vice President of Accounting hates you.
the network administrator is god, and you're not.
When to replace an end-users computer with an etch-a-sketch.
The importance of backups, and having someone else do them.
Getting credit for coming in on the weekends and at night.
You've accidentally created a major problem, you found your mistake, you fixed your mistake,
and now everyone thinks that you are brilliant.
Should you then ask for a raise? Yes, strike while the iron is hot!
I'll continue to add more to this as time permits, if
however you'd like to add something, please feel free to send it to me.