Nov 16, 2015

The 7 Rules of System Administration

Effective system administrators look for every advantage they can get. The basic skills that make a system administrator successful are tangible, and you can see many of the basic requirements in job postings. What job listings typically don’t cover are the rules that can make or break system administration: careful note taking, attention to detail, comfort with project work, planning, and prized technical skills.

To help system administrators take that next step, we’ve put together seven prime rules to help them prepare for the worst, produce a sustained system state across the board, and make strides in making environments run better.

The 7 Rules of System Administration

Tip #1: Be Proactive

Being proactive begins with a state of mind. Just because something appears to be functional doesn’t mean there aren’t things to address. Consider unscheduled interruptions, incidents, and natural growth as compounding factors that can create a perfect storm of failure when one aspect of an infrastructure fails.

One of the most important first steps in becoming proactive is to integrate the everyday task of reviewing log files from your entire environment. With this approach, you’ll understand the healthy and unhealthy behavior of various systems.

Always provide a way back from changes as they’re implemented in an environment. Use snapshots, test repeatedly, and document the finest details in everything that you do.

A flaw or error on a company’s essential systems can have a significant impact. A proactive approach to system administration can mean the difference between a controlled, manageable impact and an outage that can affect functionality, revenue, and brand image.

Tip #2: Plan Things

System administrators know the unpleasant feeling of unplanned events. Impact can be mitigated by planning and the practice that comes along with it. Here are some helpful tips for proper planning:

  • Pay attention to support and business schedules.
  • Schedule changes when coverage is prepared to respond.
  • Test changes in a controlled manner.
  • Validate your disaster recovery by regularly putting it to the test.

Tip #3: Automate

There are many opportunities to automate tasks in system administration. Review the workload and identify opportunities to offload tasks that are repeatable through automation. There are a variety of commercial and scripting tools available to help report, manage, initialize, and shut down tasks, like Infrared360, Pulseway, and Windows Performance Monitor.

Tip #4: Be Secure

Security is a major focus for any organization. While there are many security solutions in the marketplace, the most fundamental solution is to implement a security-aware environment. This means being mindful of security in everything you do. Be aware of the value of all data, review logs on systems, integrate the best of security principles, and scrutinize anything that may not seem right.

Don’t stop at addressing technical security concerns. Make sure you put proper physical and personnel security measures in place to mitigate human security threats. Looking for tips? We’ve outlined a list of security protocols that business can take to boost internal security.

Tip #5: Communicate

The role that systems administrators hold is critical. A big part of that job is effective communication. Rather than wait until something goes wrong, an effective system administrator is constantly communicating through email, calls, announcements, chat, and more. Use every tool at your disposal, particularly free tools like email and Slack, to keep users, application owners, and management informed at all times… then reap the dividends!

Tip #6: Back it Up!

Backups are not the sexiest of subjects, but they are a proven lifesaver. Back up your systems, configurations, environments, and everything else you can. Evaluate the solutions you have integrated on a regular basis. Test those backups, make sure the solution you have scales with your needs, and integrate those elements on a regular basis. Codero provides easy and effective managed backup solutions to help you navigate the backup process.

Tip #7: Eyes on the Future

If there’s one thing we know about information technology, it’s that nothing stays the same. Keep building new skills! Cloud, virtualization, and distributed technologies have changed the data center significantly in the last few years. Stay in tune with the community, best practices, and breaking technologies.

Every business environment is prime for opportunities to improve. Effective system administration is a big task, and it’s not always easy. Codero can fill that gap with Proactive Managed Services, with dedicated employees on hand to solve potential issues before they become problems.

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