System Administration The Why, What, and How - LOPSA

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System Administration The Why, What, and How

2015

LOPSA

Agenda 

Why do we need System Admins?



What do System Admins do?



Characteristics of a System Admin



What is is like to work as a System Admin?



How to become a System Admin

2015

LOPSA

Why do we need System Admins?

2015

LOPSA

Device Growth

2015

LOPSA

Data Growth

2015

LOPSA

Make technology work

2015

LOPSA

Anything, anytime, anywhere

Xkcd: Devotion to Duty

2015

LOPSA

What do System Admins do?

2015

LOPSA

What do System Admins Do? Understand business impacts of technology

2015

LOPSA

What do System Admins Do? Listen to the users who are your clients

2015

LOPSA

What do System Admins Do? Design systems to meet a set of requirements

2015

LOPSA

What do System Admins Do? Install/maintain HW, OS, and Software

2015

LOPSA

What do System Admins Do? Performance tuning and system monitoring

2015

LOPSA

What do System Admins Do? Hardware and Software troubleshooting

2015

LOPSA

What do System Admins Do? Account management and access permissions

2015

LOPSA

What do System Admins Do? System security and forensics

2015

LOPSA

What do System Admins Do? Capacity planning and forecasting

computer

2015

LOPSA

What do System Admins Do? Automation and documentation

2015

LOPSA

Characteristics of a System Admin

2015

LOPSA

Curiosity

We have to know how and why things work (or not work)

2015

LOPSA

Solver

We are good at solving puzzles with minimal information (e.g. no docs, but make it work) 2015

LOPSA

Technologist

We like to make technology work 2015

LOPSA

Fearless

We try things to figure them out and get ourselves into and out of jams (just not week of finals)

2015

LOPSA

Helper

We have a strong desire to help people

2015

LOPSA

Perfectionist

We like to fix things right (or else they will fail at the worst time) 2015

LOPSA

Doer

We get things done 2015

LOPSA

Automate, Automate, Automate

2015

LOPSA

What is it like to work as a System Admin

2015

LOPSA

Environment

2015

LOPSA

Schedules Often flexible schedules But sometimes there are late nights

or on call via phone 2015

LOPSA

Lots of Variety A system admin does a bit of everything... Database Admin ● Software Developer ● Network Admin ● Security Admin ● Storage Admin ● Virtualization Admin ● Forensics ● Email Admin ● Account Management ● Hardware Installer ● HVAC & Power Engineer ● User Manager/Counselor ●

2015

LOPSA

Good Career Prospects

2015

LOPSA

Good Career Prospects

2015

LOPSA

Do what it takes...

Bringing fuel up 18 flights of stairs to the generator after Hurricane Sandy to keep computers running

2015

LOPSA

How to become a System Admin The key is getting experience

2015

LOPSA

Be the ”Computer Expert” at work

2015

LOPSA

Volunteer at a Non-Profit

Or do an internship with a local company or school district 2015

LOPSA

Set up a home lab

2015

LOPSA

Get a College Degree

Check out your local community or technical college for 2 year degrees 2015

LOPSA

Get an Industry Certification

LOPSA Professional Recognition Program

2015

LOPSA

Read and Learn 









2015

The Practice of System and Network Administration, Second Edition by Thomas A. Limoncelli and Christina J. Hogan Essential System Administration, 3rd Edition by Æleen Frisch Time Management for System Administrators by Thomas A. Limoncelli Powershell in Depth by Don Jones, Richard Siddaway, Jeffrey Hicks Classic Shell Scripting by Nelson Beebe

LOPSA

Join LOPSA

And get yourself a Mentor at https://lopsa.org/mentor 2015

LOPSA

System Administration The Why, What, and How

] 2015

LOPSA

This goal of this presentation is to introduce you to the why we need system admins, what they do, and how to become a system admins.

Agenda 

Why do we need System Admins?



What do System Admins do?



Characteristics of a System Admin



What is is like to work as a System Admin?



How to become a System Admin

] 2015

LOPSA

Over the next 45 – 60 minutes of your life we are going to discuss these items. Hopefully by the end of the presrentation you will have an idea of what system administration is and if you might want to become one.

Why do we need System Admins?

] 2015

LOPSA

This section will cover why we need system admins. So why do you think system admins are needed? See if you can get some audience participation.

Device Growth

] 2015

LOPSA

This charts shows the number of devices that are connected to the internet and how that number is growing expotentially. Someone has to design, setup, and maintain the systems required for these devices to function. Examples are: ● How to you provision a new device quickly? ● Who takes care of the wireless access points? ● Who runs the online shopping stores Can you think of other functions are that needed for when we have lots of devices (hint security)

Data Growth

] 2015

LOPSA

Corollary to many devices is that they generate an incredible amount of data. Data such as location, what service was used when, and data that we generate such as photos and videos. All this data has to be stored somewhere and we (and corporations) want access to it. Like I said when we started, I worked on 500MB disk drives. Text data is in KB, photos are in the MB range while movies are pushing into the TB range. A typical drive of today 1TB. Can you think of other ways that you generate digital data? Do people generate more movies and photos today then then did in the past?

Make technology work

] 2015

LOPSA

Finally, system admins make technology work. Some of us are the plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, and handymen of technology while others are the electrical & mechanical engineers and architects of technology.

Anything, anytime, anywhere

Xkcd: Devotion to Duty ] 2015

LOPSA

System admins will do pretty much anything, anytime, and anywhere to make technology work. I will have more on this later, but it does seem to be a point of pride of many system admins (myself included) that we can make technology work for people. Maybe not quite as extreme as the comic, but close.

What do System Admins do?

] 2015

LOPSA

The next section will cover what kind of work a system admin does. So what do you think system admins do?

What do System Admins Do? Understand business impacts of technology

] 2015

LOPSA

First and foremost, system admins work hard to understand the business impacts of technology. Technology by itself is a solution looking for a problem. You need to have a business case for using the technology. Some great examples of misguided technology are: ● K-12 School district spending 100K for special 7x24 backup software when they do not run 7x24 (Amazon does, but does a school district) A great example of good technology is: ● Kynect – keep it very simple website, 5 min with some anonymous data will estimate your costs, grade 5 reading level http://deloitte.wsj.com/cio/2014/04/09/kentucky-shootsscores-with-health-benefit-exchange/

What do System Admins Do? Listen to the users who are your clients

] 2015

LOPSA

A big part of being a system admin is really listening to and understanding our clients pain points. Many times they cannot explain what they need in terms of technology, but they can tell us what is not working, what is causing them problems and they depend on us to recommend solutions that will resolve their concerns.

What do System Admins Do? Design systems to meet a set of requirements

] 2015

LOPSA

Many times we are given a set of requirements. For example design a system that can handle 4 days of video from 100 security cameras. Then have 10 of these systems feed into a archive that will store another 7 days. We then need to figure out how much data that is, how fast the data will be generated, etc and create a system that meets those needs. Will the network support that amount of data. A good system admin always builds in a buffer as most folks underspecify their requirements.

What do System Admins Do? Install/maintain HW, OS, and Software

] 2015

LOPSA

Once we have the system in designed, we need to build it. We install hardware and software along with applications. The key is that the applications drive the hardware and software choices (sometimes too much). You need to connect both hardware and software together in a variety of different ways. Now it is even more complicated with with many applications hosted in the cloud. For example, an application should only really care about how much data is on disk (TB) and how fast it can get the data to/from the disk (IOPS, Throughput). I unfortuately had to work with one application that specified the type of disk and the configuration of the disk which really limited my hardware options (pretty much any new hybrid system of the last 5 years was not allowed). I have another application that only runs on the oracle database. Because of licensing and pricing considerations, that meant all my ESXi hosts could only have 2 CPUs in them.

What do System Admins Do? Performance tuning and system monitoring

] 2015

LOPSA

Once we have the system running, we have to tune the systems just like a machanic tunes a car to get the best performance from them. In addition, we set up speical monitoring software so the systems can tell us when things are not working well (kind of like the check engine light in your car).

What do System Admins Do? Hardware and Software troubleshooting

] 2015

LOPSA

When things break, we need to figure out what happened and what can be done to fix it. Sometimes we may do a quick fix if it is in the middle of a work day until we can get to off hours for a permanent fix. And sometimes it is not a technological fix. Example is when I was working at a small, public software firm. We did 50% of our business on that last few days of the year. Well on the last day of they year the power vault outside the building exploded and the building lost power. I told the CEO that all systems were on UPS for 20min and needed to be shutdown. That was not acceptable as we could not record orders. Ended up moving all UPS's in the building into the server to keep one database server running (had two power supplies) for over 6 hours to record orders. Since no lights we used flashlights.

What do System Admins Do? Account management and access permissions

] 2015

LOPSA

How many accounts do each of you have (facebook, email, school, bank, twitter, amazon, skype, credit cards, etc.)? I have around 90, People need accounts on all these systems. Correction – authorized people need accounts and they only need access to their accounts, not someone elses. Someone has to set up and maintain the systems that manage all these accounts.

What do System Admins Do? System security and forensics

] 2015

LOPSA

Another big issue that a system admin deals with is security. What happens if someone else gets into your account and makes unautorized changes, sends emails out in your name, steals your passwords and credit card data. We have to make our systems as secure as possible while still being usable. When something does happen, we need to switch into forensics mode to figure out how did the break in happen, what all was compromised, who did it, when did it happen, what else is possibly compromised, and what can be done to stop it from happening again.

What do System Admins Do? Capacity planning and forecasting

computer

] 2015

LOPSA

Remember those growth charts we saw at the beginning about number of devices and amount of data. Well system admins have to plan for all that growth as it takes a while to design, purchase, and implement new systems. It is a lot easier now than what it was with virtualization and the cloud, but we still need to do it or else our systems will crash from the load.

What do System Admins Do? Automation and documentation

] 2015

LOPSA

Referring back to the growth of devices, there is no way we can hand set up each device. We need to set up automated systems that do it for us. And then we need to document what we have done so other people can understand it and modify it as necessary. The one thing constant in system administration is change. Everything is changing all the time.

Characteristics of a System Admin

] 2015

LOPSA

What do you thing are the key characteristics of a system admin?

Curiosity

We have to know how and why things work (or not work)

] 2015

LOPSA

System admins are almost OCD about needing to know how and why things work.Give a system a new tech item and the first thing they want to do is to take it apart to see how it works. For example, every new computer I get the first thing I do is open it up to see how it is put together.

Solver

We are good at solving puzzles with minimal information (e.g. no docs, but make it work) ] 2015

LOPSA

System admins very good at solving puzzles with a minimal about of information. Examples: ● what would you if you worked at a university and a geostatictics professor came to you and said he can only send email 500 miles. (http://www.ibiblio.org/harris/500milemail.html ). ● you started a new job and had to modify a system that had no docs and the vendor was out of buisness. ● Or how to keep a server up through a power outage so the company could record its orders

Technologist

We like to make technology work ] 2015

LOPSA

System admins like technology and like to make it work. We do have to be careful to have a reason ”better than we can” it we are doing it for work. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1FCKpARWY8

Fearless

We try things to figure them out and get ourselves into and out of jams (just not week of finals)

] 2015

LOPSA

System admins are not afraid to get into a jam although they prefer not to. We try very hard to do work that may cause a jam on times where they will not cause a lot of problems. Example: ● I typically pick late afternoons to do work on the systems after most people have gone home ● For major work that will cause downtime, I do it on July 3rd or over Christmas break as those on the only 2 times I can shut down services on purpose. ●

A company I know of tests their redundant systems late one night each month by pulling wires to see what happens

Helper

We have a strong desire to help people

] 2015

LOPSA

By nature, system admins like to help other people. We may complain a bit, but we really want technology to work for people and not against people. Sometimes we can get in trouble when we try to figure out a technological solution to a nontechnological problem. Technology is not the solution to all problems.

Perfectionist

We like to fix things right (or else they will fail at the worst time) ] 2015

LOPSA

System admins tend to be perfectionists because if we do not, they will break at the most inopportune times and more often than not that means we get to stay the night or longer. We do not like half baked systems although any system admin with several years of experience has had to keep one of these systems running. They just cause of a lot of problems.

Doer

We get things done ] 2015

LOPSA

Systems admins get things done. We are not much for lots of paperwork (which does cause problems when we do not document things correctly) or bureaucracy. We want to get our hands dirty building things that help people.

Automate, Automate, Automate

] 2015

LOPSA

System admins really dislike doing repetitive things over and over. They want to automate them so they can do something new and interesting.

What is it like to work as a System Admin

] 2015

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So what do you thing it is like to work as system admin. What is the environment like? What are the hours like?

Environment

] 2015

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The environment can range from an office cubicle to a very noisy server room. We often have several monitors on our desks. Some jobs are with a group of system admins and in some jobs you will be the only system admin. Some jobs you work at home.

Schedules Often flexible schedules But sometimes there are late nights

or on call via phone ] 2015

LOPSA

Often we have flexible schedules, but we may be on call via pager, text message, or phone. When things go wrong we need to stay until they are fixed which can mean late nights and early mornings. Recently I had a storage problem that started at 2am on a Friday. I was lucky enough to get it resolved enough by 9pm on Friday that I could go home and fix the rest of it on Sat and Sun during the day.

Lots of Variety A system admin does a bit of everything... Database Admin ● Software Developer ● Network Admin ● Security Admin ● Storage Admin ● Virtualization Admin ● Forensics ● Email Admin ● Account Management ● Hardware Installer ● HVAC & Power Engineer ● User Manager/Counselor ●

] 2015

LOPSA

A system is may do one or more of the above roles depending on their job. In many jobs you may never get near the actual computer, but you may be working on the cloud the entire time.

Good Career Prospects

] 2015

LOPSA

The job prospects for system admins are good. Many of our jobs cannot be outsourced and remember the growth rate in systems at the start of the presentation. We will be needed lots more system admins to make technology work.

Good Career Prospects

] 2015

LOPSA

The job prospects for system admins are good according to the BLS. Many of our jobs cannot be outsourced and remember the growth rate in systems at the start of the presentation. We will be needed lots more system admins to make technology work.

Do what it takes...

Bringing fuel up 18 flights of stairs to the generator after Hurricane Sandy to keep computers running ] 2015

LOPSA

Looping back around to that comic about we do what it takes to keep our systems up and running. This is a real life situation from Hurricane Sandy. An ISP had server room on the 18th floor with a generator. The one thing they did not consider is that the power outage would last longer than the fuel supply. So they had to carry up buckets of fuel for the generator.

How to become a System Admin The key is getting experience

] 2015

LOPSA

So how many people are interested in becoming a system admin?

Be the ”Computer Expert” at work

] 2015

LOPSA

If you already have a job and you like fixing computer problems, offer to fix problems at work. Pretty soon you will be the person that people come to with their problems. If you work for a small company this is a great way to become a system admin as the company grows.

Volunteer at a Non-Profit

Or do an internship with a local company or school district ] 2015

LOPSA

Many non-profits need computer help. Volunteer with one that interests you. For me I volunteer with King County Search and Rescue and they are always asking for computer help.

Set up a home lab

] 2015

LOPSA

Create a test lab to try things out at home or in the cloud. Servers from amazon web services are free for low use or from Vultr.com are very inexpensive.

Get a College Degree

Check out your local community or technical college for 2 year degrees ] 2015

LOPSA

Get a system admin degree. There are several 2 year degrees in network, database, and system administration. There are also a few 4 year degrees and even a few master degrees. Just be careful that the degree is hands on and has some work experience built into it. Please note that this is NOT required. Many system admins have degrees in other fields such as english, math, physics, art, etc. You just need to have the characteristics we have talked about to be a good system admin.

Get an Industry Certification

LOPSA Professional Recognition Program

] 2015

LOPSA

Getting an industry certification can often help you get in the front door of a company. The best certifications require hands on tests instead of just written tests that really test your knowledge of the subject instead of testing how well you can memorize a book.

Read and Learn 









The Practice of System and Network Administration, Second Edition by Thomas A. Limoncelli and Christina J. Hogan Essential System Administration, 3rd Edition by Æleen Frisch Time Management for System Administrators by Thomas A. Limoncelli Powershell in Depth by Don Jones, Richard Siddaway, Jeffrey Hicks Classic Shell Scripting by Nelson Beebe

] 2015

LOPSA

The first two are general system admin classics. The third is a classic on how to deal with interruptions on the job and your life goals. The fourth is for windows system admins and the fifth is for linux system admins.

Join LOPSA

And get yourself a Mentor at https://lopsa.org/mentor ] 2015

LOPSA

LOPSA is the League of Professional System Admins. We are here to help you become one and, if you already have experience, to help make you a better system admin.

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System Administration The Why, What, and How - LOPSA

System Administration The Why, What, and How 2015 LOPSA Agenda  Why do we need System Admins?  What do System Admins do?  Characteristics ...

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