System Administration

      On this page you'll find how I got into System Administration, why I chose Sysadmin, links to resources/additional topics that are issues in our field along with downloads that may help you complete various tasks you come across at work. Some links go to external sites, are downloads from this server, or link to Reddit's /r/sysadmin sub-reddit.

      Although I did not get a degree related to System Administration, it is something I've wanted to do since graduating. I took a System Administration class in college before I graduated. At the time, the University I went to did not offer a degree in System Administration & the large library of MOOC Institutions & websites didn't exist at the time.

      The degree I acquired is in Applied Communication - this route is ideal for individuals heavily interested in technology because, although they work with servers, they still have to deal with people. Work, as much as a tech person may wish, does not exist in a vaccum where you can avoid humans. (More to come in this section, possibly additional links to another favorite subject of mine, personality!)

      The concepts one learns in Applied Communication: Public Speaking, Delivering Presentations, Improv, Communication Theory -- are all fundamental skills that can enable individuals to become more effective communicators in the work place. It allows an IT professional to digest material into a useful format for documentation, training & tutorials. Typically, in my limited experience, there are many Sysadmins who view other IT people, and even their users somewhat like this -- although it is a constant battle against the current, I do my best to educate these System Administrators & inform them that their mentality is wrong & hurtful to our community.

      After graduating, I took up a job as IT Instructor & System Administrator for a IT training center. At this job, the things I learned during college were reinforced. I studied & took the exam portion of the Certified Technical Trainer (CTT+) certification. I did not complete the video portion of this exam. However, the knowledge I gained was invaluable. One of the key things that is most useful as a System Administrator is knowing the processes behind how adults learn & what methods of learning work best from person to person - more on this down below.

      Being a System Administrator is a complex job that can be demanding mentally, physically & emotionally. People have to be highly skilled in technology along with being able to interface with customers, users, c-level executives along with the high stress of critical services going down when they are most needed. This is the challenge with new learning opportunities that present themselves daily. It is a great job for people who love learning, tinkering around with things & figuring out the how & why behind how something works.

      Working in the IT field also comes with other challenging issues: lack of women in the workplace, ethics challenges, never having enough time in the day, an unknown set of pre-existing standards, along with a constant unwritten learning requirement, either via a homelab, certifications, or gratis work provided to non-profits. It is an evolving industry and as such, we must evolve with it.
Note: I linked to both the SANS & LOPSA code of ethics above. Both are highly reputable and have a very concise code of ethics that I think all of us should follow.

      These issues & more are all important to me. In addition, it's sometimes difficult to find peers who are open to sharing the knowledge they've acquired over the years. This is why I believe it's important for admins to become part of the system administrator community & offer mentorship. Large communities like The League of Professional System Administrators fills this void. They run an awesome LOPSA-East conference New Jersey full of training, talks, and people you can network with. As of 2016, LOPSA-East is no longer a conference. It may make a return in the future. If you want to see it come back, join LOPSA as a member & reach out to LOPSA as an organization.

      At one time I was on the committe of the newly created LOPSA Recognized Professional program. This program was the first of it's kind at the time & I was dedicated to seeing it grow. Unfortunately there was a lot of disagreement within the community as to the utility of such a recognition program. A system of high quality standards are important to discernfly-by-night ITT Tech System Administrators from Profesionals who continually evolve their skills, go to conferences and strive for quality in their work. I firmly believe in surrounding myself with people of similar caliber for my personal & professional growth. If you have any suggestions for this program please contact LOPSA directly. If you wish to join, click the link above.

      I wish DevOps would go away. I'll never understand the craze of it & the word is something of yesteryear. I previously wrote that I wish DevOps would go away, but in the future I will write more about my current experiences as a System Administrator in an environment that *needs* DevOps & better collaboration. I ascribe to "Operations", System Administration, System Reliability Engineer thought processes. I think SREs have unique challenges at scale. Note: is there a video of this talk? Ping me @darksim905 :(

      If you're a help-desk tech, or a Jr. System Administrator, I hope this page has been helpful to you. Below I have more links that I think will be helpful. I will be expanding this section to help people who want to get from help-desk to System Administrator. I will eventually be creating a wiki with resources for you to use at your disposal.

      If you see a broken link on this page, or you think there's something you'd like me to add such as a link to your site, let me know!

Sysadmin Resources

      The Sysadmin Subreddit on Reddit is where I spend most of my time, and I am a highly active member. I do my best to stay engaged in the community and learn as much as I can from my peers. There's also a LOPSA Subreddit, but it is not nearly as active. If you prefer learning about Linux, I suggest checking out /r/linux4noobs - this sub-reddit is fantastic & helpful for people who are looking to get a grasp of the basics. If you are more of a hardcore Linux Sysadmin & don't deal with Windows issues, head over to /r/LinuxAdmin -- beware -- people in this sub-reddit expect you to know how to ask a question! Keep in mind when posting in these sub-reddits, many IT people are very pendatic, e.g. they are very precise with their words, meaning & intent. Generally, you are expected to be the same & do your best to do as much research as possible prior to asking for help

      If you are a Windows Sysadmin & do not have SCCM for whatever reason, I highly recommend PDQ Inventory & PDQ Deploy by AdminArsenal. When used together, it can make System Administration of a small office very easy - you can deploy software packages to dozens of computers. If you are familiar with more advanced skills such as making WMI calls and/or using VBS scripts, you'll feel right at home implementing those into the toolchain that the PDQ software suite provides. The PDQ suite has been used in conjunction with Powershell to make other software packages behave properly. /u/vocatus on Reddit is kind enough to put up a repository of common software packages for use in PDQ Deploy up as a torrent.

      If you run an even moderate Windows domain with group policy, I suggest checking out the work Doug Richmond does over at Defend The Honeypot. Very smart individual & loves to help people out. He has an excellent list of suggestions of additional people to check out, here..

      If you're a generalist with a strong sense of protecting computers, users & networks I highly recommend checking out SwiftOnSecurity & her website, DecentSecurity. This gives you a very solid baseline in security & covers a lot of the basics that we can sometimes forget when architecturing a solution for someone.

      I've contributed to the Sysadmin Body of Knowledge (SABOK) - it was created by Aleksey Tsalolikhin of Vertical Sysadmin. This is a living document of information for System Administrators who want to improve themself & their profession.

      I'm working on putting together an wiki that I use as a dumping ground for resources from my Information Security Meetup.

&nbps;     If you are new to the "IT" realm, or want to know about all the confusing world of Information Security world, look no further than the hacks4pancakes Infosec Career Guide -- Lesley Carhart has put a lot of sweat and tears into this guide & it is the defacto standard. it covers the red team & blue team side of information security, what these careers are about & what to expect with each field in the industry. I highly recommend starting here if you are unsure what you are doing in this computing field & want direction. Lesley is highly respected in the industry.

      The Troubleshooting Exchange blog run by a few Exchange MCMs. /u/ashdrewness is a frequent contributor, along with a frequent poster to /r/ExchangeServer. Can't recommend this link enough.

      Dynamic Tele/Net Incorporated is my go to resource when I need any or networking runs performed. The company is run by Brett Diaz. He is very prompt, professional, and provides excellent results.

     Time Management for System Administrator's resource website with videos giving a general overview of the chapters and additional material. Not all of the videos are perfect, some lack sound.

     Everything Sysadmin, Tom Limoncelli's site which has additional blog posts covering a variety of system administrator topics, complete with many conversations in the comments and suggestions to improve the way we do things.