The saga continues…

 

In our previous episode, we saw how young Network Admin space warrior Alan Marsh, triumphantly finished yet another busy day by getting the network back up in Bangalore, while simultaneously helping out his fellow coworkers – and, of course, not forgetting to deliver his status report for the iOS® router config. But what challenges will more mature and seasoned network defenders face when battling even more unsettling issues and taking on greater responsibilities in their network galaxy? That’s why we’re back today for another episode of Just a Day in the Life of a Network AdministratorEpisode II: Guilty until Proven Innocent!

 

Today, we’ll be taking a tour of a network admin’s daily life with Samantha Gordon, an experienced IT Manager in charge of her company’s network. Let’s see how her responsibilities and duties differ from Alan Marsh’s.

 

Ready? Let’s go!

 

“Samantha, we need to meet with the CTO again this week regarding the network budget for Q2. We have to have those reports ready by Friday.”

 

“Sure thing, Dan. Let’s have a look at everything tomorrow. Today we’ve got to deliver our incident response report and show how the outages from last week had nothing to do with the network. We also have to get sign off in order to implement some preventative fixes so that this incident doesn’t recur. This is totally bogus. The outage had nothing to do with the network!”

 

“I hear ya, Sam! Sounds good. Tomorrow we’ll go through the budget. Catch you later!”

 

Ugh, seriously…every time something goes wrong, the first thing everybody says is, “Oh, it must be the network.” REALLY? Why must it be the network? The reason why this drives me mad is because the MTTI (Mean Time to Innocence) of the network is at stake, and I’m in charge of it. This means that I have a limited span of time to prove that the network is not at fault for whatever issues that occurred at a given time. Typically, the developers and SysAdmins will blame the network for a problem that occurs, and everyone else jumps on the same boat. It doesn’t happen often, but it always happens at the wrong time. In this case, right on budget planning week!

 

“Uh, Samantha? I’m so sorry to bother you right now, but the VPN is not working between two sites and I’ve been trying to fix the problem since yesterday. I can’t seem to resolve it. Could you please have a look at it for me?”

 

“Sure, Jacob. Please pull up the screen you’ve been working on and I’ll have a look at it in a bit. Thanks.”

 

Jacob is a good network administrator. He knows his network, but as a young network admin, he sometimes doesn’t make use of the tools we have at hand. If he did, he’d immediately be able to spot this simple Ethernet negotiation mismatch and resolve the issue with ease.

 

Back to budget planning. I can’t help but keep thinking about how much money we’re spending on technologies that are giving us mediocre service. We have this alert-happy system that drives us crazy… a lot of the time, it’s just noise. I need to somehow secure budget so that we can install a more intuitive system. The fact that it’s an upfront investment has little to no importance in terms of how it impacts the budget, because whatever we spend on the alternative system I’ve found, we’ll save in man hours in the future. Nevertheless, I still have to show them the numbers and prove this to them.

 

“Samantha, can I have a word with you.”

 

“Sure, Rick. Is anything the matter?” (Rick, our CTO. He’s one of those guys who wants to do “more with less.”)

 

“Well, Samantha, it seems we’ve found the issue that triggered the outage last week. You’re right — it has nothing to do with the network, but make sure it doesn’t happen again! Are you ready to present your budget planning for Q2 today?”

“Uh, um…yes, no problem! I can get everything ready for our meeting at 5:30 p.m. today. Thanks!”

 

Aaaahhh! That, I was not expecting! There I was, ready to put on my crusade gear and defend our network, and instead I should have come armed with my calculator. It’s just never a normal day.

 

***

 

Do you have a story that is similar to Samantha’s? Or something different, maybe? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section below. Thanks for stopping by!