Sysadmin BORN

There is a problem. A problem in my industry is that, it is growing every day. It’s called “improvisation”. We define the person “improvised” who, after installing a server following a howto and copy paste commands without understanding them, feels, on a par with much more skilled systems engineers, ready to manage production systems. And you throw at it.

The (real) professionals are having to fight every day to attacks of various kinds, from spam to DDoS, and in 99.9% of cases it turns out that they come from the machines, in fact, in the hands of people who have virtually no experience in the management of systems.

I have not told here for mercy for those concerned, but some time ago some sites on a server that I manage, all belonging to the same person, were affected. After a thorough analysis of the logs, I concluded that those who had entered via FTP password (probably recovered with a keylogger). Having found in the logs of the IP deface, I contacted the owners of two of those, definitely become part of a botnet and used by third parties to infringe. The first, after an initial response particularly rude, confirming that he had not noticed that his server was being used by third parties to deface websites, has taken the necessary measures. The second, no. He threatened me, saying that I would have sued for defamation, because what I was saying was surely invented, and that if the provider, in which abuse had reported the matter, had locked the server, I would have asked for damages. Because I was making it all up.

Needless to say, after having explained how to connect via SSH and how to launch the ‘last’ command, they come up login (root) from all over the world. Login to whom he obviously knew nothing.

He was not sure what SSH was, but the server was installed. The services were up, the website was functioning properly. Why this? Why are we in 2014. Why are control panels and howto. Control panels such as Plesk and cPanel, which play very well for all the initial setup and ongoing management of a machine. That’s the point. Systems Engineer improvised, it does not matter that you cannot already do with a simple click in the control panel. It does not matter that you cannot do on the internet and looking for a guide copy paste the following commands.

In fact I consider howto’s on par with the control panels “handyman”. Step by step guides that lead even the most unable to configure a specific service. Systems engineers improvised exist because there are step by step guides, and these guides exist because they sell, because they make views, and because they are improvised. The fact of the matter is that the guide explains how to install and how to do basic configurations. But it does not explain how to handle. It does not explain how to deal with exceptional cases. Why is this, perhaps, cannot be taught.

Those who use a ready guide, delegate to a third party (ie the one who has written the guide) throughout the preliminary phase of research, documentation and assembly of different sources, as well as testing. Instead, it is a critical component of our work. Why is it that we learn to move without the use of guides, this is the way we learn to deal with situations that are not ordinary. It is thus, and only thus, we learn to walk (or rather, running) in the dark.

We assume that everything can be explained in simple terms and sequentially clueless, can also be performed by a machine. Years and years of howto on how to install a LAMP environment. Then comes cPanel. He invents EasyApache. And from that moment with a command you can do all that in 3 seconds with the guide was done in 3 hours. A copy lines of code are all capable. The machines are very respectable to run commands in sequence. They are the best: we invented invented us, and we have invented to do just that.

This suggests that a person who manages machines in this way, it makes no sense to exist. If the administration of a system consisted only in these simple and sequential operations, the machines themselves would know self-sufficient. Indeed, they do already: there are structures which carry 90% of the routine tasks without human supervision.

But managing server is much, much more. The last little ordinary situations, and you’re often having to manage case studies exceptional in having to perform operations that can not be run through a control panel. A need to perform operations for which you do not find a ready guide anywhere, because maybe before us no one has found stuck in the situation in which we find ourselves instead. Interventions that serves the human mind, a brain. A brain that works, not just a brain that knows how to use the cut and paste commands.

Yes, it is true, many tasks have been automated in recent years, the first place a man and now a car. But beware: the automation processes that already Systems Engineer held in “automatic”, behaving like a machine. Only those, everything else will never be automated. Maybe you one day happen. But not in the short / medium term.

Some argue that it is precisely in this innate ability of sysadmin. Knowing how to deal with situations, how to handle exceptional case studies, how to manage (and fix) problems. Knowing how to look for solutions, knowledge and ability to use the tools available. Having the trend that brings you every day, without any push to find new tools and to discover new things. The technical skills you can acquire, the rest not: you will learn the commands to use, but you do not learn the way we deal with critical situations. And that’s what counts, this is to make a difference.

Often, when an improvised council to change profession, I do not know why he has proven to simple commands or did not know the meaning of some technical terms, but because the well-known lack of skill and trends much more important. Sometimes I get covered in questions, questions whose answer is contained in the preview of the first search result on Google. This, in my opinion, is a clear sign. If your instinct leads you to ask someone who already knows how to look for them yourself rather than an answer, you’ll be a perfect student, a perfect slave of modern educational methods. But, still, you will never make the system administrator. That’s it.

Some people are born especially brought to the team game and physically agile, and becomes footballer. There are girls who are born very fine, fine and brought to the attention of the person, and become models. It is not clear why it is rather widespread belief that anyone can become a systems analyst. It is not clear why anyone who wants to become one, and why it is so difficult to defend the professionalism in a trade that is becoming more critical and important.

You never want to fly on a plane piloted by a person holding a step by step guide. There you would never transplant the heart from someone who, strengthened by 20 years of experience in the butcher’s shop and with the help of a video on Youtube, you warrant that you know how to do. Why, to save a few Euros, take in hand your sites, your management and your communication tools for people who do not do anything more than they already do not make the machines themselves?

For now I’m done.

This article has been written by Sonali Verma, a professional author and a system administrator. She Works as an IT Expert at ESDS IDC and have a thorough knowledge about the Cloud Solution, Data Center Solutions, Server Solutions and etc.

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