[rescue] Small servers (was Re: WTT: 1.5G of PC2700 for 1G of PC100)

J. Alexander Jacocks jjacocks at gmail.com
Thu May 8 09:45:00 CDT 2008

Shannon Hendrix <shannon at widomaker.com> wrote:
>  Well, I'm comp-sci and do a better job with admin than most of the admins I have met.  I frequently have to do my own admin work if I want anything to work right.
>  A good computer science degree is a superset of what you need for being a good system administrator.  It's mostly a matter of do you want to be an admin, or would you rather stick to more traditional comp-sci jobs.
>  It is more efficient in many cases to separate those jobs, but only if each side is competent and understands the needs of the other.
>  Most sysadmins I've worked with who just had vocational training are terrible.  They might really know the material they were taught, but have a really hard time when you get away from that.  Worse, it is impossible to explain to them why some of their decisions are a disaster for the software and running it efficiently.
>  Certainly an admin can self-teach themselves that knowledge, but the point is they do need to do so somehow, in order to be effective machine managers.  All of the good admins I've met went well above just vocational training, or they consulted the comp-sci guys as needed.
>  The ones who don't absolutely suck to work with unless the work is easy.

I couldn't possibly disagree more.  Sure, some folks with CS degrees
are good admins, and some lacking degrees aren't.  But the degree,
itself, is neither here nor there.  What is required to make a good
admin is the right mindset.  I have found that people are either
logically and systematically thinking, or they are not, and no amount
of instruction can change from one to the other.  Another thing that
is required to be a good admin is someone who is dedicated enough to
spend the time that the job requires.  Not only the maintenance
windows, on-call, etc., but also the time at home spent keeping up
with the technology and the current best thought, in the field.  9-5
SA's are useless, IMO.

The only area in SA work that I have found, where CS is directly
applicable is in shell scripting.  There is no question that proper
variable naming, efficient coding practices, and good documentation
are critical, there.

I'd have to say that experience writing (technical writing),
presenting (speech), and dealing with others (business) are just as
important, if not more, than a CS background.  Because, an SA who
can't express themselves, or convince management/customers of the need
for the proper technical solution, are unlikely to be successful, in a
business environment.  And I have met plenty of technically-competent
SAs, who got nowhere, due to lack of personal skills.

Were I to make a college recommendation for someone who intends to be
an SA, I'd say that they might even want to take a business degree,
with CS courses as electives.  They should spend spare time working on
systems, for sure, but their classes should be in areas that won't be
picked up, in the business world.  The best SA that I have ever worked
with has a degree in psychology, by the way.

By the way, I _do_ have a CS background, though not a degree, so I'm
not just talking out of my ass, here.  I've been a mostly Solaris SA
for 13 years, until I switched to consulting.

Just my 0.02 worth,

J. Alexander Jacocks

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