5 Best Practices for system admins
Top 5 Best Practices for System Administrators
System administration isn't an easy job, but it's manageable with the right tools, the right people, and the right set of rules to live by. Learning some rules brings order out of the often chaotic world of system administration.
Who better to use as a reference than the people who practice the fine art of system administration themselves? The SAGE-IE group actually published ten rules for System Administrators in this presentation, but we decided to take their top five and go into a bit of depth on each one for you.
Best Practices for System Administrators1. Be a Good Citizen
The first rule is a frequently overlooked one and a somewhat obscure one for a best practices list. However, its unusual inclusion makes it all the more compelling. Being a good citizen has to do with customer service. We don't think of network users as our customers, but they are exactly that.2. Monitor Your Systems
Monitoring is more than simple UP/DOWN ping tests; it's a comprehensive insight into your environment that includes CPU, memory usage, network traffic, capacity, and environmental measurements. When you begin monitoring, you should collect statistics for your systems that establish a baseline of normal operating behavior to which you can refer in the future. You should collect usage statistics for CPU, memory, disk, and network. You also need to calculate growth statistics on logfiles, databases, and user data so that you can predict future capacity needs.3. Perform Disaster Recovery Planning
The third rule or best practice is to 'Perform Disaster Recovery Planning'. Contrary to some beliefs, disaster recovery doesn't necessarily mean recovery from a major disaster that affects the entire datacenter. It means recovery from any disaster, even single system disaster. One question you might consider as you think about disaster recovery is 'how are you going to fix the problem once it occurs?'. You might not have direct physical access to a failed system to help in its recovery. You'll have to rely on remote personnel working at the datacenter to recover a system that's experienced a hardware fault.
The other question to think about is 'where will you be when a disaster occurs?'. Disasters don't often occur at convenient times during working hours. They happen while you're away from the office and away from your computer. How will you meet the mean time to restore (MTTR) and the SLA for the failed system or systems when you have no access to them?4. Document Everything
As challenging as it is, you must document standard procedures, connectivity information, regular maintenance tasks, and disaster recovery contingency plans.5. Establish Procedures for Your Work
As you can surmise, rules four and five are closely related to each other. Establish standard procedures and document them. Standard procedures help you maintain consistency and reproducibility in your computing environment. Creating and adhering to a set of standard procedures has the added effect of stabilizing your systems and services, which, in turn, stabilizes your company's overall productivity.
System Administrators created these five best practices for System Administrators to use as guidelines that lead to more stable work environments and higher productivity. They'll help streamline your work, assist other System Administrators in your group, and maintain your sanity when things break.
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