Monday, June 18, 2007

Are Sys Admins Bad?

On the list of things to annoy me in a given day, I found this little gem buried deep in my backlog of unread articles. With such a slanted question I was not surprised to see every response I expected from the snarky Bastard Operator from Hell references (really read it for some insight into how system ops were regarded). Dilbert references to upper management phb's, and a more elusive reference to lusers (mix user and loser and you get luser).

There are instances for brilliant users and dumb Admins, and the reverse as well. In the end categorically dismissing a group of people based on your limited interaction with a small subset of them makes little sense. Sys Admins are no different. Some went to college some learned in the trenches, and either could be a moron. Deal with people as you find them, and assume less. Stereotypes help those with weak minds cope with the complexity of life, but most everything is in flux and most people are trying their best. Here are some reasons that your Sys Admin may be Harried.

Because we are a cost center in most if not all businesses, our sucesses and cost savings are undervalued by default. Either way it was going to cost money in the minds of the Accounting/Finance group so the fact that you busted ass to design an elegant solution that beat other options by half or better does not stop their urge to make you trim "fat" off your projects.

Our biggest accomplishments are invisible. When we discover a bug, and fix it before anyone notices we are heroes only to ourselves. If a user discovers a bug and we fix it, the response it "finally". That is little incentive from our perspective to fix your problems. Fixing things, anything is undervalued. Everyone expects things to work by default, never assuming that flexibility in software comes with fragility.

Finally, there is often one or two of us to 100 or more of you. Those are slim odds, in terms of being able to address everyone simultaneously. This puts us in the position of making choices of what is important and what is not. Sometimes we choose wrong, but other times your problem is really yourself and we don't have the heart to tell you.


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