[LINK] Roles and Responsibilities of System Administrators

Marghanita da Cruz marghanita at ramin.com.au
Fri Sep 14 10:35:44 EST 2012

Darrell Burkey wrot in response to Rachel's Comments:
>> I have been a Sysadmin for <some_uni> since about 1995.   I have
>> noticed that the job has changed a lot, at least for me.  The most noticable
>> things about the change for me can be lumped into 3 or 4 categories.
> Thanks for taking the time to write this very useful post. I have just left the ANU, where I was hired as a Unix Sys Admin, for the very reasons you have outlined. There appears to be little to no understanding of what Sys Admin provides and how much money it can save an organisation. 

Maybe the chapter title that is emerging is the:
"Evolution of the Role and Responsibilities of Systems Administrators"
"An Anecdotal History of [IT/IS??] Systems Adminstration"

Or maybe the book chapter proposal is dead, the book is dead, long live Link!

Here is my Anecdotal History.

As a Uni, student, circa 1980 1 had to continually manually save my
Cobol/Fortran/Pascalmodula2/Algol programs, in trepedation that the Unix
system would crash at anytime. I guess there was a Sys Admin running around
in the background making sure the system came up again, taking backups etc.

In my first job, circa 1982, I was Node Liason Officer - effectively the
System Administrator for a PDP 11 node on CSIRONET, and Pascal programmer
on a standalone Northstar and Fortran Programmer on a Cyber 76. I guess
there were a few system and network administrators somewhere in CSIRO, and
I may have even spoken to them occassionally. Can't remember what the story
was about backups, the backup was an a copy of the deck of Fortran cards.

Next job, Mini computers (Prime's Primos) had come in - systems were being
migrated from the CSIRONET bureau service - I don't recall much to do with
the Sys Admin side, I was now focussed on FORTRAN/Prime's
database/scripting language.

Then I was sys admin, net admin for a small Decnet/Vax operation. Two
memories - one is installing the training package, to learn about the
operating system. And negotiating a shut down time for backups, with
directors of two divisions on either side and me explaining to the their
boss who was arbitrating that the shut down was scheduled at 5 to be
completed at 7. If I didn't start now, it would not be completed by 7 and
those who had gone home, would be back and not have a computer system.
 From memory, I installed cables under the floor, installed printers, did
user support, upgraded softward, integrated Vaxstations.

Next job, was as an Application(Office Automation Email/WP) System
Administrator - no more backups, etc. However, by now I was extracting data
from logs, writing a Fortran program to aggregate the data and then loading
it into Lotus to produce graphs to demonstrate usage of the system and
justify upgrades. I also did software upgrades. Also enabled the exchange
of files between Users on different platforms, Vax, PC and Mac by turning
the Vax into a file server. Co-incidentally, I think this phase of my life
ended possibly exactly 20 years ago, to the month. By the way, one task I
did have was to recommend the platform for PC based Office SW
(Spreasheet/WP) - In the face of Lotus Spreadsheet, Ami, Wordperfect etc -
MSOffice was the best solution!

Circa 1993,  moved right out of a technical roll, kind off - there was the
time we tried to keep a Digital Audio system cool enough, to stop it from
shutting down, at an unariconditioned trade show in a Beijing Summer. The
other challenge was demonstrating a system to the locals, with a chinese
interface that I had to operate from memory :-)

Fastforward 1996 and a Linux ISP hosted website, with sys admins doing
their thing in the background. Guess Rachel, as a Sys Admin, your were
looking out at those wacko users at the time. From memory, the webservices
were pretty basic storage for HTML files - there were all the other
Internet things, including graphically presented stats for the website,
provided by magic by the ISP.

I have switched ISPs, not sure, when CPANEL arrived, now I have a choice of
a couple of stats packages. I recently installed a blog, via CPANEL (but
all it has attracted is SPAM - so, I have turned comments off.

Via the Internet, I have outsourced advertising on my website and printing
of my paperbacks and distribution of my e-books. I guess these service
providers have System Administrators working for them.

Then there are all the other administrative systems - banking, water bills,
electricity bills, drivers license and even Planning Systems:
> B1. What should be included in the objectives of new planning legislation?
> The objectives of the new legislation should incorporate:
> supporting IT Systems which provide sufficient and timely information for informed public comment, review and monitoring of conformance of individual developments and the performance of the systems in general (through the reporting of regular performance indicators)
> Information technology and a new planning system
> The current plannining Information and Technology (IT) systems simply digitises paper records.
> Adopting Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the following ways would deliver process efficiencies, and meet the objectives of the Legislation.

Marghanita da Cruz
Ramin Communications (Sydney)
Website: http://ramin.com.au
Phone:(+612) 0414-869202

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