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Realistic Sysadmin Workload for a Company of 30? 181

An anonymous reader asks: "My company was recently sold to a new owner. Currently I am working as a programmer using a number of languages (Java, C, C#, PHP). I am the only maintainer/developer on a number of important code bases. The new owner wants to add 'Network Administration' to my list of responsibilities. We are moving locations and our infrastructure needs to be rebuilt from scratch. He claims that after being set up (something I am also responsible for) our company IT needs can be met using only 1% of my work week. Our user base will be 30 people, mostly programmers, with a minimum of non-techie staff. I am a professional programmer, but have no real sysadmin/network admin experience. His solution is 'We'll get you a book'. Learning new things is great but, I just want to be a programmer. I'm worried that this network admin responsibility will become my new full time job. Does this 1% statistic hold water?"
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Realistic Sysadmin Workload for a Company of 30?

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  • I know a guy (Score:4, Informative)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @06:29AM (#12766649) Homepage Journal
    I know a guy who was the primary programmer at a similarly sized company and also the lone admin. He consistently worked weeks of over 40 hours. Since programming was his first priority he rarely did admin stuff. Low priority admin tasks would never get done unless the projects really really dried up. High priority admin tasks would mean overnights and terrible times.

    The boss likely doesn't want to hire a separate admin since that person doesn't make direct money for the company. A programmer makes software which brings revenue. An admin makes computers work, but doesn't bring in any direct revenue.

    If you are moving there will be a lot of up front admin work. If you can set something up that is really kickass from the get go, then you can probably keep the amount of admin time per week in the future really low, but not down to 1%. Of course, this requires basically not programming for awhile just to plan and set everything up. But if you don't then the admin work will be this ghost constantly haunting your higher priority programming.
    • Re:I know a guy (Score:2, Insightful)

      by smcleish ( 118335 )
      "If you can set something up that is really kickass from the get go, then you can probably keep the amount of admin time per week in the future really low, but not down to 1%. Of course, this requires basically not programming for awhile just to plan and set everything up."

      Not only that - without sysadmin experience, it's going to take you longer and be much harder to set something up that's of high quality not to need a lot of upkeep. (Unless you're someone who expects not to make any mistakes, is confide
    • Re:I know a guy (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AllDigital ( 682202 ) *
      One could also focus on the positive aspects.

      You will gain experience in an area where you currently have none. This may be useful when raise time comes around...but if it does will be useful when you seek employment elsewhere.

      Take advantage of any opportunity to get experience in a new area, especially training. Get your activities recognized in writing and keep them for future reference in your job hunting.

      I can promise that it will pay you dividends down the road if you approach it wit
  • Do not accept (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dr.Opveter ( 806649 ) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @06:30AM (#12766650)
    You know 1% of your time is nowhere near reality.
    You could end up spending half your time on sysadmin work, especially if you don't really know how to do it (and have to learn for a book you dind't want to read to begin with).
    Not to say you aren't smart enough, but obviously both the system administration and your coding will suffer if you don't feel up for the job.
    • Re:Do not accept (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      accept it - but make clear that you won't do unpaid overtime to meet requirements of both positions. the employer is likely paying you for 8 hours a day, so give him that.

      1% is also a fantasy, but that shouldn't be your problem directly now should it?(unless you totally totally hate admin work).
    • Tell the new owner "With all due respect, that 1% is propaganda from someone trying to sell you something. It does not remotely reflect reality.

      One percent is 24 minutes per 40 hour week, or just under 5 minutes per day. If you think about it, odds are you are already putting in that much time on "admin" tasks just for yourself. Network admin for 30 people? Figure on at least an hour a week just to run thru the checklist to verify that there is nothing that needs done (no patches, no viruses, no disk s

    • Re:Do not accept (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TheWanderingHermit ( 513872 ) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @11:30AM (#12769399)
      I agree.

      Nobody here seems to have done the numbers, though. (Surprising for a geek site!)

      1% of 40 hours is 24 minutes.

      Make a list of activities he wants done and activities that are done weekly in a normal sysadmin job. Estimate the times it takes a trained sysadmin to do them and add up all the times, then point out that as a new sysadmin, it'll take 5-10 times as long on many tasks to learn them, and a few months before you can get the timing down to only a short time per task.

      Present real numbers to him so he can see that it takes more than what he thinks. As someone else said, a sysadmin does not directly show up in a profit statement (a sysadmin only enables others to do their job with their computers without having to think about it) and the new boss is looking at the figures. If he hires a sysadmin, that's a lot of money he can't keep himself or use for something else, so he will not want to hire one unless he has to, or will try something like getting a part time sysadmin.

      Also, once you get started on sysadmin work, start logging your time. Make sure when you talk with him, you aren't just saying, "System work took up 5 hours yesterday and 6 hours today," show him, with a log what took up that time and why it was important. That way he can't say, "Cut the time down," since you can show that you spent that 6 hours today doing things that had to be done. If you list 15-20 tasks that took 6 hours, that is way better than letting him think you were just slacking off and taking your time.
      • Re:Do not accept (Score:2, Interesting)

        "Make a list of activities he wants done and activities that are done weekly in a normal sysadmin job"

        If his boss is the kind of boss that says supporting 30 developer computers takes 24min a week, that strategy won't do the trick. I can see it:
        -So, let's see what do you want the sysadmin to do
        -Humm... a big bunch of nothing, things are well enough the way they are, so he won't have to touch anything. In fact, the less he touches, the less he can break apart.
        -So nothing by zero sums up to... zero minute
  • short answer: no (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DJProtoss ( 589443 ) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @06:30AM (#12766651)
    Whilst i'm not convinced about the 1% value, It is possible that that might work in a correctly, carefully set up network environment where each users accesses & rights is carefully set up, and you have a hardware support contract with someone, but I doubt it
    However, irl this is *not* going to happen.
    for a start, you are not going to be able to plan and set it up right first time (thats where the experience bit comes in ;) ), plus i'll wager that those 30 odd people will mostly be running windows, and will have local admin rights - that really increases the difficulting in managing them, especially if they are connected to the internet in some way.
    Basically, your boss is being a cheapskate. You *need* a sysadmin, or at least someone whose job is officially part sysadmin and has experience - ask the boss whether he would want a sysadmin with little no programming experience and 'a book' to be writing the core code for your product? I suspect not. So why does he think the reverse is true?
    • by wakejagr ( 781977 )

      So why does he think the reverse is true?

      He probably thinks that the reverse is true because he thinks that keeping a "small" network running is not a time-consuming task. People forget that when something goes wrong on their home computer, it can take a lot of time to get it working the right way (doubly so if you lack experience with the problem). Multiply that by 30, and something going wrong can take a lot of time.

      I totally agree, an experienced sysadmin is needed.

    • plus i'll wager that those 30 odd people will mostly be running windows

      Managing a network of 50 users is a full time job, even when Windows is well-managed. I couldn't imagine what a clusterfuck it would be in a small business where everyone has admin privileges.

      With 30 desktops, just keeping up with replacing computers will take you 2 weeks a year, which is around 3% of your time. So, yeah, 1% is complete bullshit.

      Some larger businesses average as low as 20 users per admin.
  • by samael ( 12612 ) <> on Thursday June 09, 2005 @06:32AM (#12766659) Homepage
    I mean, sure, once the network is set up, the infrastructure for 30 machines should be perfectly stable.

    But then email stops working. Or someone gets spyware on their machine. Or a graphics card plays up. Or someone loses their printer settings. Or a mouse is playing up. Or someone can't get through to google.

    As Sysadmin, whenever anything goes wrong you're the person they'll come to. If you're working purely with techies who can handle most problems themselves, then fine. But if there are _any_ non-technical people in your company then I'd estimate 25% of your time will be spent dealing with them.

    However, your boss isn't going to listen to this. So what you do is find a free help-desk package (if you're using Windows then Liberum is pretty good) and get people to funnel all of their support calls through that. That way at the end of the month you can go to your boss and say "Look, this is the amount of work it takes to keep a network up and running. That's why I haven't got any programming done."
    • by Anonymous Coward

      As Sysadmin, whenever anything goes wrong you're the person they'll come to.

      The importance of this fact cannot be emphasised enough. It's not just the time spent dealing with the problems. It's the interruption and distraction from your real job.

      When programming, if you are interrupted, it takes about fifteen minutes to get back to being productive. Context switching is expensive for programmers. This means that even if you are only interrupted for little things that take a minute to fix, it stil

      • Agreed. I'm the sysadmin for about 12 people, and always being interupted to add a new email account, forward someones email to elsewhere, setup a vpn for someone else, and so on.
      • Joel [], 'zat really you?
      • It's not just the time spent dealing with the problems. It's the interruption and distraction from your real job.

        The AC is so, so, so right.

        I'd recommend that you outsource this. Somebody can do the setup and then handle maintenance on a per-hour basis. If your boss is right, you'll have to pay the guy for a couple hours a month, which sounds like a great deal.

        But if your boss is foolish enough to saddle you with this, make sure that part of the deal is something that keeps you from being interrupted. E
    • I mean, sure, once the network is set up, the infrastructure for 30 machines should be perfectly stable.

      But then email stops working. Or someone gets spyware on their machine. Or a graphics card plays up. Or someone loses their printer settings. Or a mouse is playing up. Or someone can't get through to google.

      Seriously? I've done this before with a group of complete non-techie users and had no problems.

      Spyware is simple to stop. Hardware is under a support contract. Getting to Google is either a
      • and it's not worth it to outsource it.

        Care to elaborate on that? Or are you just admitting that an outsourcer would give a realistic estimate of the necessary work involved, and charge accordingly?

        Seeing as how an outsourcer can take advantage of the economy of scale with intermittent support, as well as the benefits of specialization in administrative technologies, you've got the burden of proof when making assertions like that.
    • If you're working purely with techies who can handle most problems themselves, then fine.

      It depends on the individuals. Some technies know enough to be dangerous, and while they can solve most problems themselves, the ones they can't are often caused by them trying to solve their own problems. Some users create lots more work for you than others ...

      However, your boss isn't going to listen to this. So what you do is find a free help-desk package (if you're using Windows then Liberum is pretty goo

      • Funnel all your own sysadmin work through it too. If you find a problem, create a ticket, then solve it.

        That's such a brilliant suggestion, that I thought of it myself, years ago. {grin}

        Seriously, every support task (i.e. not scheduled operational tasks like "rotate backup media") should get logged in a system of that sort. Not only does this create documentation of how you're spending your time, it also builds up a knowledge base that can help you find solutions to infrequent but previously-encountered

  • by NoSuchGuy ( 308510 ) <do-not-harvest-m ...> on Thursday June 09, 2005 @06:35AM (#12766679) Journal
    Talk to your boss about security and tell him that it's a process not an investment and need a steady (time) budget.

    Would be interessting what your boss answers.
  • by Digital Dharma ( 673185 ) <max.zenplatypus@com> on Thursday June 09, 2005 @06:36AM (#12766680)
    That most executives with this kind of understanding of IT infrastructure (i.e. little to none) tend to confuse systems administration with tech support. Sounds like you're being asked to fill more than one set of shoes.

    As a professional systems administrator myself, I can tell you that very few individuals posses the capability to both program and maintain a mixed network. I'm not saying it can't be done, but it usually requires giving up more than just one's wishes to stay in their area of expertise. It also requires giving up weekends and vacations, as you'll inadvertently become married to the machines as more time goes by. It's unfortunate that IT professionals have gone from being held in high esteem to the average corporate foot soldier, thrown about at the whims of unknowledgable people, and ultimately, expendable. Good luck with your situation.
  • by obi ( 118631 ) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @06:36AM (#12766685)
    If you don't know, how would he know what he's talking about?

    I do both, and let me tell you it's more like 30% than 1% - and I'm not even doing everything. Not that it's not enjoyable, but proper sysadmining is a really important job, it's making sure everyone else is working smoothly. If it's badly done, the productivity of all these 30 employees will be affected.
  • The 1% is crazy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by liam193 ( 571414 ) * on Thursday June 09, 2005 @06:42AM (#12766703)
    If this is the case and you doing system adminstration for 30 people will only take 1% of your time, then the sysadmin work load / person is around 0.0003. This would mean that a company in a similar industry with a staff of 100,000 employees would only need a sysadmin crew of 30 people. When you think of it in those numbers, it immediately becomes apparent that the numbers are not even close.

    From another angle, I would ask your boss why he has an admin, a marking/sales person, and/or an accounting person. The accounting work for a 30 person company has to be only a 1% work load for him. He can do all the administrative work in 1% of time. And there is absolutely no reason he can't take care of the sales and marketing items in another 1%. That's only 97% of time. What's he going to do with all that 97%?

    As has been said before, there are real professionals who do systems administration. There are some people who can do reasonably well at sysadmin, network admin, network design, systems design, programming, etc. They are rather rare and they can't do all of them at the same time. For a company your size, it would probably make sense to get a person who specializes in sysadmin and can program a little bit (understands the code enough to be able to read and possible fix some stuff) and the two of you would work as backups to each other.
    • Re:The 1% is crazy (Score:2, Interesting)

      by JimDabell ( 42870 )

      If this is the case and you doing system adminstration for 30 people will only take 1% of your time, then the sysadmin work load / person is around 0.0003.

      It also means that, assuming the Ask-Slashdotee works a typical 40-hour week, the boss thinks that each employee needs 48 seconds of support each week.

      If the boss really won't take no for an answer, my suggestion would be to point out that the "1% of your time" will be taken up for the next few months by reading that sysadmin book, so it might

  • Run Away! Run awaaaay!
  • by -dsr- ( 6188 ) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @06:45AM (#12766722) Homepage Journal
    It's not clear whether you're expected to be the systems administrator, the network engineer, or the all-purpose all-singing all-dancing IT guy. Let's examine all three scenarios.

    We'll suppose you work a 50 hour week. 1% of that is 30 minutes. In the "network engineer" circumstance, that's about enough time -- assuming that you have a very well designed and stable, simple network built on the most reliable hardware available, and you never change anything, just fix it. That won't happen, of course, because you've never done this before and therefore you won't get it exactly right the first time. I won't even mention that your boss is a cheapskate who won't be buying the most reliable hardware anyway. The first time you need to deal with your upstream ISP will chew up 30 minutes. If you ever need to buy replacement hardware, that will take a few weeks' time as well.

    Now, as a systems administrator for 30 people, plus maybe five or six servers, you'll blow through your 30 minutes of allotted time every Monday before lunch. Someone needs a password changed. Someone else says "mail isn't working". The sales critter hands you a laptop and says "I spilled beer on it, can you get my files back?" Those are just the incidental time-users. When are you going to upgrade your antispam system? There's an intermittent problem with one of the file servers. Diagnosis may take more than half an hour.

    Do I really have to say anything about being the defacto IT shop? No, I didn't think so.

    Tell your boss that you want to keep track of your IT hours and be paid for everything over 45 minutes a week at the same rate he would pay an outside contractor. Since he's certain that you'll never go over 30 minutes, this is a great bet for him.

    You should start looking for a new job with management that can make more realistic predictions about workloads. Meanwhile, explain to your boss that you heard that your coworker runs a network at home -- maybe he's a better choice?
    • Most of your post is sound, but one paragraph made me cringe.

      Tell your boss that you want to keep track of your IT hours and be paid for everything over 45 minutes a week at the same rate he would pay an outside contractor.

      No. This is just utterly wrong.

      Since he's certain that you'll never go over 30 minutes, this is a great bet for him.

      And this is *exactly* why he shouldn't - because his boss will take him up on it.

      This is a job negotiation, not poker. You can't win by bluffing.

      The best thing f
      • Re:BAD ADVICE (Score:2, Interesting)

        by chris_mahan ( 256577 )

        I was in the same situation.

        Small company, 30 employees, systems grew to way too many servers
        (exchange - fax - file - app (MSSQL) - websense - terminal service - mail-filtering (barracuda?) - webserver - nas - and now 2 RH+PHP+ora app server)

        in addition to: firewall, vpn, voip (nortel).

        All in all great systems, and employees are very productive, and company is very profitable.

        Except the Director of IT wanted me to program (internal reports, website, scripting of backup jobs, config, etc) (which I
      • Re:BAD ADVICE (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DaveJay ( 133437 ) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @02:04PM (#12771513)
        I have to agree on the "I just want to be a programmer" part, but perhaps with a different spin.

        See, computer programming is different from system administration, just like being the CEO of a company is different from being the CFO, or being an engine rebuilder is different from being a transmisison rebuilder. Trouble is, most non-techies don't realize that, because they have no idea what techie people do.

        So I suspect this person's new boss used to have a guy that did -everything-, and possibly did it well. That guy (or girl) worked long hours, was underpaid, and eventually got burned out and bailed. So this new boss probably thinks that all techies can do -everything-, and just assumes the previous person's poor attitude was responsible for their burnout/departure. This is an opportunity to teach the new boss that not all techie jobs are created equal, and not all skillsets transfer over.

        On the other hand, saying "I only want to be a programmer" will be interpreted by his boss as "I am comfortable where I am and don't want to grow". This may be unfair, but that's how it will be viewed, and that's a bad thing.

        Ideally, what this person might do is talk with the boss, and explain that programmers and system administrators have two very different skillsets, even though they have similar technical aptitudes, just like carpenters and electricians do. Explain that you'd love the opportunity to learn that new skillset, but it's going to take more than just leafing through a book, because keeping a network of 30 machines alive is a full-time job even for an experienced person.

        Further, explain that it doesn't seem like a full-time job from the outside because the work comes in fits and spurts, where one day you might do very little, but the next you might have to work overnight to get things fixed, and most people outside of system administration have no idea those overnights are happening, because they're at home; all they see is an idle system admin sitting at a desk on the good days. Oh, and mention that you know all this from talking to a few system administrators that you know.

        Finally, tell him that you will be happy to take it on, but it won't be practical unless the following conditions can be met:

        1. You will have to take formal classes to learn how to do it right, at the company's expense and during paid work hours, so that you can do it efficiently and quickly when trouble arises;

        2. When trouble arises, programming projects are going to be put on hold until the trouble is solved, and so programming deadlines will always need to slip by the number of hours or days it takes to solve the problem -- and those slipped deadlines are going to cost the company money;

        3. Even when there is no obvious trouble, a certain amount of time must be put aside each day to do routine maintenance and take care of users' workstation issues, because jumping back and forth between administration and programming tasks will make any person in that role painfully inefficient;

        4. There will be times that system administration tasks require late nights, overnights and weekend work, and it is only reasonable to be able to get comp time (or overtime, depending on if you're salaried or not) for those hours.

        Will the boss like this? Probably not, but you're not saying "I won't do it" -- you're giving him/her an honest and intelligent assessment of the situation based on your own research into the problem, and you're giving him/her a plan under which you CAN take on the role. Of course, chances are the new boss will find the plan to be less than ideal, at which point you might suggest a part-time contractor system admin or whatnot.

        And of course there's always the chance they will say "fine, go do it". If that happens, and they hold up their end of the bargain, then congratulations -- you've just gotten paid to learn a valuable and marketable new skill. On the other hand, if they don't hold up their end of the bargain (claiming you never talked about that, or "I misunderstood you -- well, just get it done for now and we'll worry about your hours later" and so forth), you have to acknowledge you're working for a sociopath, and you should leave.

        Good luck to ya, buddy.
  • by artifex2004 ( 766107 ) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @06:50AM (#12766748) Journal
    Are you going to learn how to be a sysadmin and network admin on the clock? Reading a book won't be enough. You'll need plenty of time, especially if you want to effectively secure your hosts and your network. My guess is he's not willing to pay for your time, especially not while your projects stall in the meantime.

    There are consultants that just do setups. If he wants it done right, but is too cheap to hire a full or part time guy for just the servers and network, he needs to look at this as the next-best solution. At least, if they screw up, they can be held responsible. And then, as needed, either you or someone else can make minor modifications as situations warrant. Do you want to get blamed if the book you got and the weekend of cramming wasn't thorough enough to stop a scriptkiddie from 0wning j00r cvs server and erasing it, or worse, a competitor rootkitting it and installing a backdoor so they can watch your progress, maybe change some data, a couple months down the road while you're too busy on a real project to track vulnerabilities and new attack types in the 24 minutes a week allotted to this? (less than 5 minutes a day... can you even get through your email that quickly?)

    Oh, and I'd say, get your resume ready. If he starts having more unrealistic expectations of his staff, you should probably look to go elsewhere.

    • MOD PARENT UP! Very true, but a little too mild, in my opinion.

      The job that is mentioned in the Slashdot story would take an already skilled person 50% to 100% of his time. That's because it is not serving regular users, it is serving programmers, who expect a lot more from their computers.

      Computer administration is not just administration. There a many lengthy one-time projects, like finding better backup methods, or dealing with the latest vulnerability. Fixing and cleaning after a serious security breach can take a month, for example.

      Anyone administering Windows computers must deal with the fact that there are people with huge amounts of money who want to exploit Microsoft's (deliberate) sloppiness. One list of major investors in spyware [] companies shows a total of over $139 million in venture capital. Remember, Microsoft makes more money if a user becomes tired of slowness and problems caused by spyware and buys a new computer, which is how most resolve such problems. If you administer Windows computers you have the richest man in the world and his rich think-alikes riding on your back.

      It sounds like the old story. People with control over more money than brains buy a successful software company, figuring that they can extract more that ever before from the customers.

      We already have enough information to predict that the company will go out of business. Because it is a reasonable assumption that the person who submitted the Slashdot story isn't the only one being abused, we know that the company has already begun dying; the abuse is killing the company right now. It may, however, be a slow death, sometimes old customers are reluctant to change to new software, and try to live with the new stupidity.

      There is a reason why Dilbert [] is one of the most popular comics in the United States. The real bosses are actually worse than the pointy-haired bosses in the comic. The real PHB's abuse everyone, take more than their share of the money, and destroy [] the company [], too.

      The new owner of the company is wanting to test the limits to see how much he can abuse the Slashdot story writer. He is: 1) wildly out of touch, 2) ignorant, 3) self-destructive, 4) arrogant, 5) abusive, 6) seriously abusive, and 7) lacking in social skills.

      What may happen is that not enough time will be spent on computer system administration, and the programmers will not be served. That's the self-destructive element.

      • Have you ever wondered why it takes Microsoft 6 months to fix a vulnerability when the Mozilla team requires less than 24 hours? Dogbert has the answer [].
      • Not all companies will die even if they have problems like this. In some areas (especially finanace) there are precious few choices in terms of software providers, and they can all be bad. If there are only 2 companies that can take care of what you need, and both are run by idiots... Even better, if there's only one company that can help you meet a federal regulation...

        Just because the company is in sick shape doesn't mean it's going to die out!


    • This week's best sig, slightly modified:

      "2004 US mil spending = US$455B, almost 1/2 world total & > next 32 nations combined. The rich play, we pay."
      • Something like US$1.05T? That's why I said our grandkids.
        Especially after Federal Reserve Governor Edward Gramlich said we can't grow out of our deficit spending [].
        Guess what's left? Raising taxes and/or cutting services. You know the lobbyists won't let them cut much from the military funding. I guess when they stop raiding the Social Security funds, they'll go after Medicare/Medicaid next, then hospitals, schools, roads... oh, wait, they already are. Won't be much left for the surviving soldiers to come hom
  • by wimbor ( 302967 ) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @06:54AM (#12766774)
    I am partly IT manager for my company, which means the IT part is only half of my job. And yes, I do more than half of my time on IT subjects, but NOT on pure network administration.

    On a Windows network, with 5 servers (mail/domain, database, batch server, terminal server, test server), with Oracle databases and 30 clients, including VPN support for remote users, I spend between 1 and 10% of my time on pure network admin. Depending on if there are large updates needed (e.g. Exchange 2000 -> 2003, etc.) or not.

    In a Windows environment: Make sure you set up user rights properly (block access to installing programs, etc.). Really lock it down very good for the beginner users, but trust power users if you can and give them more flexibility to manage their own system. Create a good security profile for your company, use group policy to lock computers down AND distribute software (!), use WSUS ( for windows patches, don't be cheap on antivirus programs, spyware scanners, your base network appliances and a decent firewall. Make sure you have decent warranty on your hardware, and if needed support contracts for servers. Outsource the firewall and router configs.

    The pure Windows network administration is automated here (group policy, windows patches, software installs,...), and apart from creating a user now and then, and replacing a faulty drive or old hardware, I hardly put time in the network.

    When a reinstall of Windows is needed (once in 4 years on desktops, really) the group policies make sure it gets installed with the basic software automatically. I only have to adjust some settings specific to a user. That's it. A new PC is ready on our network within 2 hours, from a clean and empty drive.

    Most of my IT time goes to other software projects.

    But, it does take some time to create this initial setup. After that, you are spending like 1 day per month (3%) on the network. If you have a disaster (crashed server), of course you need some more time, but apart from that... it's easy.

    Just demand your management 1 full month to really concentrate on the admin tasks. In this time learn how to work with the domains, group policies and the lot. The more time you put into setting it up, the more time you will gain afterwards. Set up the network really good, then go back to programming.

    If you want to spend even less time: buy Mac OS X Server and Apple hardware.

    Good luck! If you are a Linux shop: somebody else on Slashdot might have an idea.
  • Programmers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @07:05AM (#12766828) Homepage
    You might think that programmers are easy to cater for as a sysadmin but you probably couldn't be further from the truth; programmers and other tech-savvy people will install programs, change OS settings, (un)plug cables, change BIOS configurations or whatever they have access rights for (if not; they might try to hack the OS to get these rights). It's a lot easier to support people who just use their computers to read some mail.
  • I had a very similar experience, and I assure you 1% (1/2 hour per week?!?) is nowhere close. I work for a multinational that is too cheap to put admins in each office. Instead, they have a small crew of very sharp people at headquarters, and someone - in our case the Controller - also gets admin duties. Our Controller left, and everyone decided I would be a great fill-in until they got a new Controller (my boss doesn't actually want me doing it, so it isn't supposed to be permanent). Since I was alread

    • I agree with this comment the most. This is a clear case of when outsourcing is required. You are both in the middle of a move and trying to upgrade the infrastructure at the same time? This is where managements ignorance of technology and the 'it's all magic out of the box' mentality is simply dangerous.

      Turn this quickly into a positive by explaining that while you understand the company's situation (hiring a person for this is expensive and unreasonable for many small companies), the fact remains tha
  • You can be a programmer and perform sys admin tasks. Pick up a good book on shell scripting (Mastering Unix Shell Scripting has a lot of sysadmin scripts) and automate things like the management of print queues and volumes. Keep a log of every request you get, the amount of time it takes you to handle the request, who requested, and what was given a lower priority in order to fulfill. When your time starts getting short (it will), make management prioritize their requests and provide a time estimate for com
  • by rocjoe71 ( 545053 ) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @07:29AM (#12766955) Homepage
    Really, this cementhead demeans the both of you with answers like "get a book". He demeans you by not trying to understand your point of view has value and he demeans himself by not understanding the job of sysadmin himself.

    If you do buckle under and play it his way I can guarantee you within a year of moving to your new office he will be blaming you for "not reading the book" for every extra minute you spend doing sysadmin work-- Likewise, you'll be blaming him for pushing you away from programming your programming career by insisting you "get the job done right first" with your admin duties.

    Take a stand if you wish, but most small businessmen operate on the principle "No-one is irreplacable" and that means you too. You'd be alot happier working for someone who understands different IT roles and understands what your personal carreer goals are.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I agree with everything in the previous post and add the following.

      This exact thing happened to me. I was hired on as a programmer, they moved me to Windows/UNIX Administration saying "It will only take a few minutes a day".

      2 weeks later, I was spending better than 50% of my day working on "minor IT things".

      6 months later, I was fired because "I was not making all my programming deadlines". Never mind that I had physical proof that the IT job they stuck me with was the cause, they wouldn't hear m
      • 6 months later, I was fired because "I was not making all my programming deadlines". Never mind that I had physical proof that the IT job they stuck me with was the cause, they wouldn't hear me out.

        I'm assuming you took them to court over this. If you have physical proof that your employer was responsible for you missing deadlines, and said employer fired your over these deadlines then you've got a very strong case.

  • My company is down to about 100 people, 50 in the main office. We have three full-time IT staff (not counting a mainframe guy and a DBA) and they're swamped. One of those spends about 50% of his time on network issues (well, maybe 30% network and 20% voice-over-ip phones).
  • by nighty5 ( 615965 ) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @07:41AM (#12767017)
    I looked after a network shared across 3 networks with around 30 staff.

    Had a mix of Linux, Novell, NT 3.51, NT 4. MTAs included qmail, Exchange. Firewalls were routers, and ipfwadm...

    So about 8 years ago.....

    I also was an onsite engineer for charge out work...

    To answer your question, it comes down to a few factors:

    How old is the hardware? If its older hardware, then there will be more repairs.

    Do your users have adequate training? If not, then you'll be doing lots of support.

    Does your site consist of a lot of Internet connectivity, on-line shopping carts etc? If so, then add more hours to your maintainance.

    Also don't forget stuff has to be backed up. That takes about 20-30 mintes a day to monitor backup logs, and managing tape routines.

    What about application/security logs? You probably won't have time to even look at that stuff. Then stuff will probably break more often.

    You see it comes down to how much time can be invested in the systems, the less management give you, the more time you'll spend on it.

    I'd say you're average will be around 1 hour per day, every day - at a rough estimate.



    P.S - I got out of sys admin gig, now a full time security consultant the past 8 years and love it.

  • Realistically, no budgetable task takes 1% of a work week if it requires daily monitoring. 1% is just 24 minutes. Under 5 minutes each day.

    Filing out a weekly report, okay, 1%. Filing out a daily report, you're talking 15 minutes min (5 minutes to change gears, 5 to write, 5 to proof).

    In fact, 15 minutes is traditionally the smallest billable increment for a lot of jobs, with good reason. And even then, that works for 'known' tasks that you can initiate and complete with no unpredictables.

    A more reas

  • Get the 1% after a certain date thing in writing, and make sure that it has a clause that if your time in that new task goes over 24 minutes in a week (1%), that it is counted as overtime (1.5x) pay.

    He'll rethink that figure in a hurry.
  • The 1% figure is clearly rubbish, but your company has new owners and you don't have any immediate reason to jump ship (or anywhere immediately to jump to) it's at least worth trying to start on the right foot with them. Chances are the new owners are trying to work out of the current staff who is capable of doing what in the future - and the fact that you got chosen for "extra responsibilities" is a sign they have confidence in your capabilities. Chances also are that they're look at who may it may be po
    • 1. The 1% figure is clearly rubbish...

      2. ...your company has new owners... (who do not understand #1.)

      3. don't have any immediate reason to jump ship... I refer you back to #2. The new owner is obviously an escaped mental patient.

  • You need to make it clear that it will take more than 1% of your time. One worm can hose a LAN and productivity may be lost for the entire day. The company doesn't want to go with someone full time. Suggest hiring a third party to manage the network. The third party can bill the company when there is a catastrophe, and you won't have to pay them a salary.
  • I used to work at a similar sized company. Around 30 people, mostly programmers. Network admin was a full time job for two, sometimes three people.

    Don't kid yourself, it's too much for one person if you have other tasks. Also, once you become an admin it's really hard to go back to programmer (both because you get lazy and also because you just won't have time).

    I have always held steady in that area. I would probably be a really good admin but I refuse to do it. My statement is simply "I'm a programm
  • I did exactly what you've been asked to do. I'm a programmer. When the company was small (4/5 people) I was the defacto sysadmin. As it grew to 30 people, we hired a sysadmin, and I gave him the occasional hand (holidays, sickness). Then he left and we were late hiring his replacement, so I said I'd keep the systems ticking in the meantime. I wish I hadn't. Trust me, I was good at it. But it cost me a lot of heartache, I had to fight quite a few people (including the CEO). IT-related workload was high (say
  • I work for a (small) company that manages the whole IT infrastructure for several other small companies. We have a client (non-technical) with about 30 employees, and they only require approx 1 hr of our time after it is set up. However they are set up in a Windows Terminal server environment and we have locked it down so the user's can't mess ANYTHING up.

    A network needs minimum maintenance if:
    - User's are not allowed to touch the server
    - Workstations are either locked down, or managed 100% by the user
    - Wo
    • Forgot to mention, I do think Linux has it's place in servers (Don't love MS that much).

      However, I also think Linux only starts paying of when managing 3 or more servers. The learning curve is pretty high compared to Windows Server.

      How to do something in windows is easy to figure out, but takes some time to replicate to other servers.

      How to do something in Linux is hard to figure out, but takes little time to replicate.

      Right tools for the situation.

      P.S. Look into Windows SBS 2003
    • - User's are not allowed to touch the server
      If you break it, you fix it.
      Workstations are either locked down, or managed 100% by the user
      100% managed by the user.
      Workstations/Server are quality hardware. A fleet of 30 computer can have 1 non-HDD failure in 3 years. HDD failures are worse.
      They are. Users handle simple fixes themselves, you just provide backup hardware.
      Workstations are identical equipment
      No, but if you have something non-standard in your workstation and it breaks, you replace it yoursel
      • - User's are not allowed to touch the server
        If you break it, you fix it.
        Not on servers. If the server goes down 30 people can't work. If too many people play with the server, no one can get blamed and it lands on you.

        Techies (Programmers, Hardware, Engineers) tend to mess around with their computers
        They are also less likely to call for help and more likely to succesfully fix things they break.
        I disagree, depending on their capabilities, they will try to fix it, but break more stuff along the way

        • So okay, no touching the server.
          With fixing - if they can't fix it, roll out a ghost image. No putting up with "but I have all my work there!" shit. They have the backup software, they should have made backups. There's no way you could make them on 30 computers (likely Windows) in 5 minutes. And if one employee gets changed every month, you'd better start looking for a new job NOW. With the extra admin responsiblity you won't stay longer than 3 months anyway.
  • Not a chance. If you can, refuse (politely of course). If not, start looking for another job.

    Look at it this way: 1% of a 40 hour work week is 24 minutes.

    What are you going to be in charge of? Off the top of my head, I can think of:

    - Mail server
    - Spam filter (including dredging out false positives)
    - Web server (if you have one)
    - Phone system (don't look at me like that - you will end up dealing with this sooner or later)
    - Software installation
    - Software purchasing, upgrades and updates
    - Security, includi
  • Strictly depends. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vo0k ( 760020 ) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @08:47AM (#12767474) Journal
    Depends on your current work load (how much is 1% of it?), on how well you do your job, on how much is left to the users etc. I can guarantee you the minimum non-techie staff will probably be about 80% of your netadmin work. Thing is, once the network is set up correctly and everything works, simply everything works. Then your sysadmin work is just to sit and surf slashdot and be there when something breaks. And when something breaks, you fix it. Count, how much time you spend on fixing your own box, multiply by 30 and you have it - the 1% time is a reasonable estimate. Install patches, replace broken parts, upgrade software - that's not something that takes a lot.
    This all depends strictly on one factor though.
    Your boss.
    Bosses tend to have a lot of dumb ideas and like to make admins execute them. So you may find yourself replacing a perfectly functional 100megabit LAN with 1GBIT one, you may find yourself switching the webserver to IIS from Apache (and back, a week later) or so. Make sure your boss isn't one of this kind. And make it be an admin ONLY. NOT webmaster. NOT unpaid after-hours home helpdesk. Not an accountant, a backup secretary or teacher. If these are to be your responsiblities, just add each as extra salary request. Be sure to list them, with sums you associate with them, so the resulting jaw-dropping salary request will be explained with the cheap rates you want in each of the fields separately. Then say you'd honestly rather see your responsiblities scaled back.
    And request a backup. A second admin to be there when you don't have time, or to help you in a 2-man job. Maybe two of them. May be same kind of programmer as you. Things like troubleshooting failing network cables, big changes in the network, mass upgrades etc are done WAY faster when 2 people do them, and it makes holiday breaks "safer" too.
  • The 1% SysAdmin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alexjohns ( 53323 ) <> on Thursday June 09, 2005 @08:53AM (#12767531) Journal
    Here's some of the things a sysadmin needs to do:

    Add new users; delete old ones; reset passwords when people forget; Manage disk space; read several sysadmin newsgroups and mailing lists to discover new exploits, viruses, worms, etc. that could affect your system; patch your system to fix these problems and install new versions; run backup software. Shit, the list is endless.

    Who's going to run your mail server? Gonna do any spam filtering?

    Being a sysadmin for 30 people is at least a 50% job, at a minimum. Depending on how much you rely on your network, both inter and intra, will determine whether sysadmin the other 50% of the time.

    And if you have internet access and the usual clueless users (note: they're all clueless), you'll spend the other 50% of your time removing spyware, adware, viruses, worms, and all other sorts of nasty things from your users' PCs and your server(s).

    You need to be proactive here. Tell them 'No!'. If you want to program, tell them to hire a sysadmin, otherwise you'll get sucked over to the sysadmin side and eventually they'll have to hire a new programmer to do your old job because you won't have had time to do it.

    Yes, been there, done that.

  • by clambake ( 37702 ) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @09:02AM (#12767639) Homepage _en&safe=off&c2coff=1&client=firefox&rls=org.mozil la%3Aen-US%3Aunofficial&q=1%25+of+40+hours&btnG=Se arch []

    1% of (40 hours) = 24 minutes

    So, get yourself an egg timer... Set it to 24. When it rings at 8:24 monday morning, go to your boss and say "1% of my work week has passed, which is all you said I was required to work as a sysadmin. Please feel free to report any problems to me next week between 8:00 and 8:24."
    • Please feel free to report any problems to me next week between 8:00 and 8:24

      This will be followed by a comment to the effect of have your desk cleaned out before 8:26 AM THIS WEEK.

    • Too be fair, that 25 minutes should be split up over the course of the week. So 8:00:00 to 8:04:48 every morning should be dedicated to sysadmin work. Depending on the hardware, that's about how long it takes to boot up the computer and log in, so this sysadmin gig sounds really easy!
    • 1% of (40 hours) = 24 minutes

      So, get yourself an egg timer... Set it to 24. When it rings at 8:24 monday morning, go to your boss and say "1% of my work week has passed, which is all you said I was required to work as a sysadmin. Please feel free to report any problems to me next week between 8:00 and 8:24."

      Of course if you ask like an ass your boss will think of you like one.

      My advice is to give it a shot and see if you like it, all the while keeping track of time spent doing the System Administr

      • Yep. This is what I was going to say.

        1% is completely bogus. It was more than that when I worked at a 5 person company. It was small enough to be workable, though.

        Later I worked at a c. 30 person company & another programmer had this problem. It took way more than 1% of his time. It was a problem, & the boss recognized it & did something about it.

        So, if you can't convince him up front, keep a good record of the time you spend doing non-programming tasks. Don't complain. Do make ultimatums or
  • Where I am currently working (A non-profit organization) there IT needs are low and there is less then 30 users of the system.

    This does not mean their system needs are low. There is always someone who needs IT help constantly. So you will have little peace when you are "The guy" that is in charge of it. If you are friendly and social at work as a programmer people will be more apt to come to you for problems that shouldn't warrant your time... little things that people working should have learned years ag
  • I was maintaining the Linux-based CRM system I wrote for the company, which had matured over the three years I'd worked for them at the time. So it was no longer really a full-time job, and I spent a lot of time reading Slashdot and the like.

    So when our sysadmin went on a drunken rampage and didn't return the next morning, I was given the job. I didn't want it, primarily because I knew nothing about Windows and had little enthusiasm for it.

    I actually liked a lot of aspects of it. I was taking on and ma
  • They want to use someone with no sysadmin/network experience to design, implement, and maintain their network? Just give the person a book and let them loose? Are they hiring, I'm qualified for that job!
    • They want to use someone with no sysadmin/network experience to design, implement, and maintain their network? Just give the person a book and let them loose? Are they hiring, I'm qualified for that job!
      And I'm sure they'd hire you, too, if they didn't have to pay you.
  • If there are any colleges/universities within driving distance, I'm sure there would be at least one student looking for an internship. While you remain the guy-in-charge of the Network Admin duties, you can pass everything you want to your able-bodied collegiate partner-in-crime. Some schools even pay the hosting company to have a student intern.
  • It will explain why it's impossible to get out of sysadminning once you've done it.

    On the other hand, sysadminning will not dry up until well after programming has all gone offshore, so it may be better to embrace the new job.

  • Do you have any idea how most of us sysadmins got into the business? We started out as programmers, configuration management, hardware techs, etc. Then the inevitable happened. "Hey, you know something about networks. Could you take a look at this?" Ten years later, you look back on your life and wonder what happened.

    The 1% is completely unrealistic. You may be able to design and implement a network that will take only 20 minutes a week to maintain - WITHOUT USERS!

    Sysadmins know. It's the users that cause
  • 1%? Oh, boy. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by foxtrot ( 14140 ) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @10:02AM (#12768321)
    I was in a similar situation a few years ago. 45ish people, we rolled our own network, mostly techie types...

    We needed about 1.5 system administrators.

    Fortunately, we had two. So about 1/4 of my average work week was spent as a testing droid for the developers and-- get this-- getting ahead of the game.

    Whoever told you 1% of your work week is on crack. Stuff simply just doesn't work that well. :-/

  • Does it extrapolate that a company of 3000 could be handled by a single admin? Pointless extrapolations aside, I spent time as a part-time SA for a 6-person company with a highly-competent staff (highly-competent... I was easily the dumbest guy there). The senior SA split time between programming and SA duties. We averaged 20-30 hours per week. Some were very quiet. Other weeks involved hardware issues.

    That breaks down to:
    4.17 hours per person
    5 hours per server
    1.79 hours per system (servers + clients)

  • that once you've got the title/reputation as "the guy who fixes things when they break", you wind up with the weird stuff.

    When I was that guy for a small company, yeah, I got the usual, "Hey, is the network slow today for some reason?" or "Uh, my machine's doing weird stuff."

    I also got, "Do you know anything about the IVR system?" I got, "Don't suppose you know how to fix microwaves?" And my favorite: "Someone's stuck in the elevator and the maintenance guys don't get here 'til 8AM..."

    Sure, you can
  • And a 30 user network.

    But you're not a competent professional systems administrator. Most of the developers I've seen as admins have been a disaster, continually trying to code their way out of problems after the fact when they should have organised their way round the problems before they happened.

    • But you're not a competent professional systems administrator.

      And don't take this as an insult. You wouldn't expect to know how to do VLSI chip design, though you could probably be taught. Same with sysadmin - you typically need about 3 years to be any good at it. If you're not good at it, you just make mistakes or not-well-thought-through decisions that come back to eat more of your time later.

      Your boss need to hire a consultant. If you make $100K he's willing to spend $1000 on sysadmin. If he's ri
  • Assumption: The company has plans to grow at the new location (else why did they move?)

    If you take this job, say goodbye to programming for the duration. Maybe not right away, but eventually, you will have no time left to program at all.

    As the company grows, the system administration tasks will grow. And you will always be the guy that knows the most about the systems.

    Contextual knowledge will lock you into the role, because you know the system, and there isn't ever time to transfer all that knowledge

  • That is going to be an issue from the get-go. It can't be just you, there has to be a backup for when you are sick, need to travel on business, get oissed from working 24x7 for a month, etc.

    Personally if my boss ever said something as idiotic as 'it will only take 1% of your time' in a case like this I would start looking for a new job. The guy is obviously a know-nothing jerk and you aren't going to get anywhere working for him.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @11:20AM (#12769286) Homepage Journal
    If there is one thing you take away from this post it should be this: the way people who favor a course of action process information is different from the way that people who disfavor it do. People who favor a course of action are very clear on the intended consequences, but only vaguely grasp it's unintended consequences. People who are against do the opposite.

    When the people above favor something and the people below disfavor it, you get the "what were they thinking?" anti-pattern. When the opposite is true, you get the "dinosaur business" anti-pattern. In most businesses I have seen, you have on one hand people who are frustrated because people are too pig headed to change, and on the other people who are feeling pestered drop the work that has to be done in favor of some hair-brained scheme. Your job is to get this out of the realm of impulse and passive aggression into the realm of rational decision making.

    There are a couple of strategies you can use here.

    I can tell you often the quickest and easiest way to forestall a bad idea is to accept it's presumed benefits as given and cheerfully take on the job of planning to make everything work acceptably. You just need management to decide between some options you've come up with to handle some implementation details. Not passive aggressively chosen options either -- the best ones you can come up with. For example, if you are on vacation, even if you have a beeper, you won't be able to fix the email server. A part time admin like you could probably get control of the worst situations in, say two days if you're on site, but unless you have a second developer comparably involved it might be as long as a week. So, you get an estimate from an IT services company of what it would cost to have somebody come in on an emergency basis. See -- an undeniable problem scenario, and three options: double the effort, hire a consultant, or accept that there is a possibility that email may go down for up to a week. Continue cheerfully running down the list of dealing with all the problems that are undeniably possible, and all your reasonable solutions to these problems, until their resolve crumbles. If it doesn't make sure you have their commitment to each of your solutions, or to accepting the responsiblity for the risks involved.

    This is a good strategy to take if you think that management commitment to this idea is shallow. More often than not people are looking for a quick fix, and enthusiasm evaporates once things don't look so quick.

    A second strategy is to actively and frankly sell the idea of a professional adminstrator. Right off the bat, I'd say "I understand the benefits of this company of controlling overhead costs, and that a network administrator is a significant expense whose benefits are hard to measure on the bottom line. But I'd like a chance to show you that a professional administrator would be more cost effective." Then you ask to have a chance to do a little research and put together an analysis of the alternatives, which of course he'll understand is a sales pitch. This is a mode of decision making that managers understand and respect.

    This is the most generally useful approach, but it depends on your salesmanship. You need three things: (1) knowledge of what would make the customer buy your product, (2) understanding of the ways the customer likes to make decisions (3) the customer's trust. You have to prepare your analysis of the customer and the pitch; try to find out what his hot buttons are and make sure you push them when the time comes to close the deal.

    The outline I think is pretty clear. You examine why the best run companies in this industry use pros to administer (you don't have to establish this is so, or anything else that sounds reasonable). You show how network outages would have interfered with something that was important to the boss, like getting the proposal on the big contract out on time, and assign a round percentage chance of say 1%. You multiply this by the to
  • Since you mention C#, I'm assuming you have a bunch of Windows servers.

    That being the case, anyone who thinks you can do sysadmin for 30 people in 30 minutes a week is just smoking crack. You can easily spend 30 minutes a week just keeping a couple of servers up to date with the weekly Microsoft security patches and watching the net for security problems. (Been there, done that.)

    And of course, that's assuming an experienced sysadmin. Starting from zero knowledge, if you spend your 30 minutes a week studyi
  • by austad ( 22163 )
    I don't know what your boss has been smoking, but it is blatantly obvious that he has smoked it all.
  • 1% of a work week comes to 24 minutes a week. I guess backups are not needed.
  • You get paid to do approximately a 40 hour/week job. 1% of 40 hours is 24 mins a week or approximately 5 mins a day.

    It will take you 5 mins a day just to review any automated reports you have that let you know that backups have completed successfully, that you aren't running out of filesystem space, check any weird exceptions in your log files etc etc.

    This of course does not take into account any time spent actually putting any of these automated reports in, or fixing any problem with your servers, or eve
  • Sure, in a perfect world, where nothing breaks, 1% might work.

    1% works out to less than 20 hours per year.
    A single breakin + analysis + restore incident (depending on severity) will eat that up.

    Don't forget about creating user accounts, changing forgotten passwords, upgrading packages, evaluating new software, installing said software, hardware failures, new hardware, READING RELEVANT SECURITY LISTS, replacing toner cartridges, swapping backup tapes, restoring "oops, I deleted the wrong file!" files, deac
  • by tweedlebait ( 560901 ) on Thursday June 09, 2005 @01:56PM (#12771421)
    Sysadmin here.

    Note- anything over 2.6 days of downtime per year is over 1% of your time.

    Also to me supporting 5 people would be easy, supporting 30 is about as difficult as supporting 60-100.

    There are many things that soak up time to consider and limiting your time and service level only makes you look bad to your users and later your boss. Even if it is something you have little to do with, the responsibility becomes yours.

    You'll be a desktop support/sysadmin, so consider these situations-

    All your dells were purchased 2 years ago at the same time.

    One week at 11am 2 of the mobos go FOOF! within 2 days of each other for no reason. Just like light bulbs. Blame ensues, but they're technical ppl so more blame ensues and then dies off. -You will catch a little blame for this, so $.02 in your blame bank.

    You drop your project and spring into action! Now 3 programmers are doing 0 hrs of programming.

    Your boss is cheap but wise and a good listener, so you have at least 1 backup machine at the ready to toss in right? Didn't think so.

    Ok so resolve the problem. (1) Pick up the phone and call the mfgr for a few (million) hours, find all of the paperwork that was gleefully thrown away after the box was opened, and wait 1-10 days for a new mobo. (2) Or go shopping for a new one, or (3) buy 2 new computers.

    (1) the mobo you receive looks similar but different! Driver and backup fun for you!

    (2) the mobo you get is different, with different allignment holes and the port plate covers 1 set of USB ports and doesn't quite align with the lan port. This is noticed by other staff and more is deposited in the blame bank. You plug in the mobo and nothing happens except some sort of crackle. it seems dell switched the +5 and ground or something, so more phone calls ahead. Driver hunt ahead, and although you're making a good effort, the pressure is mounting and yes- more in the blamebank.

    (3) boss has best buy ad to help save the (budget) day and you are charged with bringing in 2 eMachines! Oh won't you be popular!
    Also user hears new computer is coming and wants whatever is hyped like alienware or somthing with a $9k graphics card and will begin the beg-a-thon.
    Even if that doens't happen you'll spend a lot of time getting everything set up- ripping out the crappy software from a store box or ideally fresh installing, SP's/updates installed, many reboots, network config, security, etc. You probably don't have ghost deployed or a usable / up to date scripted install or the other countless toys that we rely on but the books don't tend to cover.

    Oh.. You installed That _before_ This? eww. start over bud. It's mentioned in paragraph 90 of that readme. no, the updated one on the site.

    You'll get to hear pleasent things like 'Is that machine done YET?' and 'Are you sure you know what you're doing cause it's taking a long time and I just plugged in mine and it worked at home!' 'Shouldn't this only take you a few minutes?' 'I need realplayer fixed before lunch'.

    Ok so after 1-2 days everyone is happy again. Boss will always be cocked about 48 hrs of lost time. 2 days later one of the lcd screens dies on the system you replaced. You have 0.6 days left this year for sysadmin time. That doesn't usualy cover the printer que issues for the administrative staff.

    So- backups. are you ever going be testing them or just crossing fingers? How many hrs/year will handling them take? over 4.8?

    Everyone discovers a new streaming radio station! although your staff knows better they kill enough bandwidth for the boss to notice. You are the enforcer, and may be charged with making sure that it never happens again!

    Tech skool programmer has managed to install citrix or vnc or a vpn. You give the security talk. You haven't got a clue what may have left or entered your network.

    Boss sez- I keep getting this spam! fix it! you do. 2 weeks later 'i thought you fixed it!'

    The network goes
  • If your boss wants 1% of your work week to go to sysadminning, then on Monday Morning, spend exactly 24 minutes (1% of 40 hours) on sysadminning, and then go back to programming for the rest of the week. If he asks why XYZ is not done, explain that you have already utilized your full allotment of time for sysadminning.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.