UNIX career path for Admin

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The Lounge What is on Your Mind? UNIX career path for Admin
# 1  
Old 01-02-2014
UNIX career path for Admin


Just wanted to have a suggestion on UNIX carrier path and I couldn't found any proper forum/blog where I can put this question better than this one.
I have been working on Solaris from past 13 years and some years on Linux. It was completely on Admin side and never on development or programming side. Its been long time since I am on technical support and now I want to move further. I am from India where work profile gets saturated (as well salary) after a point of time.
Along with my UNIX work, I want to start something which will add some value to my resume and will help me to go further in my path. But just want to know, what others think about TOGAF or Big Data or anything else should be good for a system admin. From past sometime, I am listening Big Data on big scale, but not sure from where and what should I start.
I will appreciate your suggestions.

# 2  
Old 01-03-2014
More programming skills are always good.
# 3  
Old 01-03-2014

Some specific skill areas in 2013 and forecast to be useful in 2014 are presented in http://news.dice.com/2013/12/26/tech...win-lose-2014/

Possbly TOGAF is The Open Group Architecture Framework - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And there are often management possibilities, line and technical, in some organizations.

Best wishes ... cheers, drl

Last edited by drl; 01-03-2014 at 09:42 AM..
# 4  
Old 01-03-2014
I am not sure what "TOGAF" means, so i can't comment on it.

"Systems Administration" is such a vast field that i doubt you really are at the end of it. Of course, programming experience could help, as Neo mentioned, but even in "pure sysadm" work there are things you might want to consider:

Systems need disks and these are increasingly virtual disks. How much do you know about SAN, storage administration, zoning, .... ?

Systems need networks. Do you know (at least in principle) how to set up a router, configure a firewall, manage networks, .... ?

Speaking of networks: how much do you know about networks other than IP? IPX/SPX? SNA? 3270? 5250? NetBIOS?

Systems tend to be aggregated in data centers and these need lots of automation: how good are you in understanding techniques like LDAP, kerberos and other cross-system services?

This list is not complete at all, not even near it. No admin perhaps knows all of the things/protocols/interfaces/... above. It just is to illustrate that you still can improve on your knowledge and at the same time stick to what you did the whole time - administrating systems.

I hope these pointers help.

# 5  
Old 01-03-2014
At my place of employment the push is all virtualization and moving things to a cloud environment. So between that and the allocation of SAN to support it, those two groups are hopping.

On a personal level, I Know that my ability to at least read/understand/troubleshoot most any application code keeps me one step above the bottom of our administrators and that's all I can hope for. Smilie
# 6  
Old 01-03-2014
Originally Posted by port43
At my place of employment the push is all virtualization and moving things to a cloud environment.
Of course it is. Now, have a close look at what "cloud environment" stands for and you will notice that it is some pretty old ideas coined into a new buzzword. This happens all the time in IT: "object orientation" was, in fact, what FORTRAN/77 programmers called "function with multiple entry points" and did 20 years before it was all the new hype; "virtualization" is what IBM mainframes did since the seventieths (there is simply no real difference between an LPAR and a CICS partition); etc., etc.. The same is true for all the other buzzwords we encounter daily. In fact most of them are old wine in new skins, as the proverb goes - and most of the rest is a bad idea anyway. For instance: ITIL. What is good on ITIL is what every competent admin (programmer, ...) always did anyway, simply because it was the right thing to do. Everything else is bureaucratic nonsense invented by people who never came anywhere near real work at all.

From there you might see that learning and understanding the basic technologies and the problems they are supposed to solve is instrumental in keeping up with the technologic advance.

Originally Posted by port43
So between that and the allocation of SAN to support it, those two groups are hopping.
It is not about doing - it is all about understanding. It doesn't matter if you know this tool or that tool, but it is about the fact that you know how zones are set up, what they are and what they are for. It is about being able to come up with a zoning schema for a big data center, which will remain, when applied, consistent even when lots of virtual disks are created and propagated over several fabrics.

Similar for networks: would it be within your ability to create a plan for a corporate-level network with many heterogenous subnets, backup networks, a DMZ, extra-net capabilities, etc., etc.? Only then you have understood networks and the problems their management poses. It is not about being able to configure this or that VLAN on a XYZ-switch. Creating such a plan would need an instinctive understanding how VLANs work, how you assess bandwidth necessities, throughput capacities - such things.

In my current project we manage about 500 virtualized systems, running on several IBM p780 (and some dozens of small systems, p570-p740), we manage the storage (about 4 PB of online capacity, EMC VMAXes mostly, several Brocade FC switches, storage virtualization with VPLEXes), a job scheduling system (BMC Control-M). Boot disks are iSCSI, data disks are NPIV. All this with three people. The question is not "how do i point and click a new LUN for my system" - this is easy. The question is: how do i consistently create storage entities (aka "LUNs") for the IBM mainframes, the Linux world, our own AIX world and even after having created some 2000 such entities still know what is where.

It takes a lot more than some learned knowledge - it takes the ability and willingness to organize the work, consistently document it (the really essential things, not some managerial blabla), set up and describe consistent procedures, the discipline to strictly adhere to the self-set standards and so on and so on. This sets apart "big data" from the home-grown eclectic. If one sets up his own system and does it one way and then a second system and does it some other way, so what? If i would install/maintain/whatever every system individually i would very fastly create a mess our limited group of three admins could never sort out again. This is why i hold my job, not because i am such a wizard with AIX - in fact i am pretty good, but not outstanding. But i can understand, develop and adhere to procedures one needs to do work at such a scale without creating a big mess.

i hope this helps.

# 7  
Old 01-03-2014
In my view, it is not a good idea to follow buzzwords and trendy tech words like "Big Data" or pie-in-the-sky governance models such as TOGAF.

It is better to be comfortable programming, which means have the creative talent to direct computers what to do.

When you can program, you can create. When you can program, you can take your ideas and concepts and implement them yourself. When you can program, you understand programmers and developers.

I started my career in unix writing C client-server code to control production HP-UX machines used in a RF radio factory to test and document the test results of these products on the production floor.

Since that time, I have worked "up in the clouds" with enterprise architecture models and "down in the weeds" programming.

To me, a techie person who cannot create an idea or concept and write code in at least one programing language is disadvantaged. The ability to create an idea and write the code to realize the idea is an important skill to have.

The guy who created Facebook was a programmer... the Google founders were programmers.... the early Apple and MS guys were programmers.....

You must be able to work in at least one programming language and write applications, even if only small ones, to be "the best you can be" in the IT world.

As a side note, I know a lot of people who work as "IT Security Consultants" and call themselves "experts". SO, I ask them "what production web site do you manage?" "what hacker attack have you defended against in real time?" ... "what is your actual experience writing any code at all?".... almost all reply "none".. "none" and "none"... in other words, they call themselves "experts" in computer security but never write code, never actually defend a server against an attack... and basically just blah. blah. blah.... about it all.

My advise is not to just be someone who "talks the big talk and uses the big words and concepts".. but be someone "who can actually develop something when needed"......

Big words and concepts are mostly marketing fluff.... the stuff of sales people who could not write a simple app in any programming language.

To be the best IT person you can be.. you must be comfortable programming in at least one programming language, in my view.

As a final note: I am inside "PHP code" sometimes every day of the week... I am not a great PHP programmer, but I really like it... It's fun to have a idea and to build it.. and see the results. To me, programming is a creative license to explore and enjoy the world of IT.
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