2 Posts authored by: jamesd85

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!


The life of a Network Administrator can be most closely compared to that of a Jedi in the Star Wars saga… well, almost. However, recent studies show that 99.89% of all Network Administrators today (regardless of age) would happily agree with the above statement. Don’t have any idea as to what I’m talking about? Good! Then you’ve come to the right place, as this article will take a quick look at the career and potential lifestyle of your everyday network administrator.


For those of you who actually are network administrators and are reading this, you’re probably sitting there at your desk with at least 20 different pieces and parts of multiple apparatuses, 3 computer screens yielding data most people would perceive as random numbers and “stuff”, inertly nodding your head as you muster up the will-power to actually read this, inevitably thinking to yourself:


“Whatever you’re about to say, you don’t know the half of it! I just sat down this morning at 8:15 AM to yet another plethora of emails and alerts, I probably won’t even have 30 seconds to get a coffee till I’ve provided support for and reported at least half of the 50-some issues I have now from users within the company, and best of all, who knows what the next network incident will be that will only further reinforce my role as the default scapegoat of network performance mishaps?! Ehem, (cough-cough). Okay, rant over.”


Trust me, I hear you! That’s why I’m here to spread the good word about why network administrators are like young Luke Skywalkers. So let’s take a peek at the daily life of an evolving Net Admin at the start of his or her career.


Without further ado, let’s meet our first Network Administrator of this blog saga, Alan Marsh.


“Alan! Alan! Could you come here for a moment, please?” And here I am thinking to myself, Do I have a choice? Day-in and day-out, I often wonder if my job title is even appropriate. Something about that name, Network Administrator, it’s so serene and calm in appearance. But an average day for me means constantly resolving issues that nobody else can, and that’s why every day I think to myself that my job title should be “Network Firefighter”, it just seems more appropriate.


“Alan! You’ve got to take a look at this. For some reason, the team in Bangalore can’t get internet access because the network is down, and we need them to get on this product redesign stuff straight away.”

“Alright, I’m on it. Should be up again by end of the day, hopefully…”


And often, when I hear my name shouted like this, the initial thought is, what is it now? But it almost always ends up being something I can resolve without having to escalate the issue to my boss, our Senior Net Admin. See, that’s precisely what I love about this job – I’m the first guy people come to for help, and they need me. So I’m happy to be that guy that can get the network back up and running, and ensures that all of our offices are connected, and so on. What don’t I love about it? Well, to be blunt, I bet if the refrigerator in our company’s kitchen stopped working, they wouldn’t bother calling the manufacturer. Why bother? They have a network administrator, right?


I’m sorry, I think I forgot to introduce myself. Perhaps I’d better start from the beginning...


I’m Alan Marsh, a 25-year-old Network Administrator (Network Firefighter) and part-time student living in London. For the past five years, I’ve been working and studying to become a Network Administrator. I’m a Net Admin by day, and student by night. Though the decision to work and study has been one of the best choices I’ve made in my life (and every day you’re learning something new in an ever-changing environment), it has also been a decision that has put my life in turbo mode – there has not been a normal day since, and the word “weekend” has absolutely no meaning to me, whatsoever.


“Alan, I need a report on the IOS router configs as soon as possible, yeah? This has to get done by the end of the day as we have scheduled a 3-hour maintenance window for tomorrow night.”

“Sure, no problem, Tony.”


Tony is my boss, and if you have to give his role a title, it would be Senior Network Administrator. Tony is a good guy (considering that he’s the grand master of the network universe), but he does not mess about with his network. My main concern throughout the day is that Tony knows that the network is up and running like clockwork. When something happens, all hell breaks loose. It doesn’t matter if it’s Saturday at 3:00 AM, my phone starts to light up with alerts – I’m on call like a physician, you may as well just refer to me as the Network Doctor.


“Alan, is the network down by any chance? I don’t have access to my applications. And I think Tim is having an issue as well, but I have no idea what it is. Good thing we’ve got you around, mate!”


Thank heavens that this day is almost over! Don’t get me wrong, I love helping others. And, believe it or not, I’m actually a really calm guy and am always keen on making sure that people can rely on me. But, some… days… NEVER… end… The network doesn’t sleep, and sometimes, neither do I.


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

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