I have been thinking about this, and came up with my own list of System/Network Admin truths. I struggled with the word truths, and instead of refering to my list as System and Network Admin truths, I see this list as a list of tasks or responsibilities that if maintained on a daily basis, will help System and Network Administrators to reduce downtime and ensure that they are better prepared to deal with issues when they occur.

Top 10 System and Network Administrator Tasks

  1. Backups are a requirement and are crucial to your success • Eventually all hardware will fail, so be prepared • You need to create a backup strategy and backup all application data

  2. Monitoring Tools • Monitoring tools are different in all companies, however you need to invest in them and make them a requirement. • The Gartner Group estimates that system/network managers can manage about 30 servers per admin, we all know that this number varies depending on experience and maturity of the technology. Monitoring tools help this tremendously. • Monitor all applications, servers, and network connectivity • Establish performance baselines to help troubleshoot performance related problems.

  3. Maintain Service Contracts with all vendors • Maintenance contracts should be required for all production environments. That includes contracts for both hardware support and software support.

  4. Maintain Version Control • Version control is essential when troubleshooting issues. Vendors often fall back on the old line “We fixed that in the latest release, please upgrade to the latest release”, so STAY CURRENT on all software products.

  5. Consistent Hardware Builds and Software Installations • Create a strategy that includes redundancy in all hardware builds • Consistency helps with maintenance and troubleshooting. • Document your builds and installations

  6. Documentation • Develop some standards surrounding documentation • Organize all of your documents and store them in a central place that can be accessed by all admins. • Document the backup process, document your monitoring process, document your vendors contact information, document your builds and installations, in the end, you will be glad that you did.

  7. Communication • Communication comes in many forms, memos, email, IM, voice mail, process and build documentation are all forms of communication. • Be consistent with your communication, and always re-read your emails before sending. • When there is a problem at 2:00am and you get paged, send a note to the group after resolving the issue, the little notes after problem resolutions go along way to teamwork and documentation.

  8. Teamwork • Teamwork is a subject that will not fit into four or five bullets, however it is critical to all IT operations. • Teamwork is about coming together, sharing together, working together, and succeeding together, especially in adversity. • Great teams and handle and work through the most difficult situations.

  9. Training and Schooling • Go back to school, work toward a degree, this will extend your career • If you already completed a degree program or if you are not interested in an undergraduate or graduate degree, then look into Technical Certificates. • If you are not interested in either a degree or certificate then do your best to stay current with Technology changes.

  10. Stay Current with Technology • A motivated individual looking to learn and grow, has many resources available on the Internet, • Read the Trade Rags, visit the Tech Web sites, Read Blogs, listen to podcasts, go to conferences.

Finally, I hope that helps, please feel free to leave comments or questions.