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TechRepublic readers line up to join The Second Network Admin's Club

Jake Necessary started a club for network administrators whose predecessors left behind a messy network, and you responded with some horror stories that earned automatic membership in The Second Network Admin's Club.


Recently, TechRepublic columnist Jake Necessary (yes, that’s his real name) described the four sure signs that “the previous network bubba was administratively challenged.” (You can read that article here.)

When Jake asked you to share your experiences of following in the footsteps of someone who left behind a mess, your horror stories came pouring in. We now proudly present the newest members of The Second Network Admin’s Club.

Victor Y., Manager, Information Systems
“How about the wiring rack that is such a rat's-nest mess that the mere act of walking up to the rack and touching it can bring everyone down? Or having your Exchange, PDC, Oracle, FTP, and Accounting servers running on a $50.00 hub? Then there is the Accounting server itself running a major accounting and payroll package on a cheap PC. Or DUN that just won't work yet. People in the field need to get mail and access the network files. I could go on for days. I have since cleaned things up 1,000 percent but still will never recover from this seat-of-the-pants operation that I inherited.”

Laura G., System Administrator
“I've been the System Administrator at a large car dealership for a year and a half. In my interview for this job, I asked two questions: Where are you on Y2K, and where is your Web site? The answer to both questions was the same; they didn't have an answer. I knew I was in trouble, but the job looked enticing, so I took it. On my first day, I found my desk. The previous admin had packed her bags and left a month before, so I basically inherited a mess without the benefit of any transition period.

“My desk had two items in it: Emory boards. Upon asking around the office, I discovered the previous Admin liked to 'help out' in the accounting group because she couldn't find anything to do in the MIS department!

“Here are the highlights of what she left me: In the main computer room, there was a brand new Racal networking cabinet that she had placed in the middle of the room. The fan in it was running, but nothing was inside! There were, however, hubs resting on new car tires (at least the tires weren't used, and there was an attractive piece of plywood covering the hole in the center of the tires).

I found PCs on the floor (not plugged in) that office workers were using as foot rests. Basically, everyone had the Admin password. When I changed it and didn't tell the masses, boy, was I the most unpopular person ever to walk into the dealership! As you can imagine, I have not had the ability to 'help out' in the accounting group.”

Jerry A., Network Administrator/MIS Director
“I had just left a large reseller/technology provider as a systems engineer and was ready to spread my wings as a Network Administrator/MIS Director. My credentials were good (MCP + INTERNET, MCSE, COMPAQ ASE, CNA 4.11 & 5.00, and a various host of smaller certificates). I was ready to take the big plunge.

During the hiring interview, I was told that although things weren't as good as they should be (albeit, that is why they were looking for a new MIS guy), they were in pretty good condition. Questions were asked. Answers were given. Offers were made (and counter offers, and so on). I knew that I would be a great asset to this company. Besides, it was only 17 miles from the house (back roads, at that) as opposed to the 70 miles (one way) through Metro traffic that I was handling at the time. The interview was over and the offer was made. A handshake later, I was the new MIS Director/Network Administrator for a small but growing design/build firm. (Click to page two to find out how the new job turned out.)

Recently, TechRepublic columnist Jake Necessary (yes, that’s his real name) described the four sure signs that “the previous network bubba was administratively challenged.” (You can read that article here.)

When Jake asked you to share your experiences of following in the footsteps of someone who left behind a mess, your horror stories came pouring in. We now proudly present the newest members of The Second Network Admin’s Club.

Victor Y., Manager, Information Systems
“How about the wiring rack that is such a rat's-nest mess that the mere act of walking up to the rack and touching it can bring everyone down? Or having your Exchange, PDC, Oracle, FTP, and Accounting servers running on a $50.00 hub? Then there is the Accounting server itself running a major accounting and payroll package on a cheap PC. Or DUN that just won't work yet. People in the field need to get mail and access the network files. I could go on for days. I have since cleaned things up 1,000 percent but still will never recover from this seat-of-the-pants operation that I inherited.”

Laura G., System Administrator
“I've been the System Administrator at a large car dealership for a year and a half. In my interview for this job, I asked two questions: Where are you on Y2K, and where is your Web site? The answer to both questions was the same; they didn't have an answer. I knew I was in trouble, but the job looked enticing, so I took it. On my first day, I found my desk. The previous admin had packed her bags and left a month before, so I basically inherited a mess without the benefit of any transition period.

“My desk had two items in it: Emory boards. Upon asking around the office, I discovered the previous Admin liked to 'help out' in the accounting group because she couldn't find anything to do in the MIS department!

“Here are the highlights of what she left me: In the main computer room, there was a brand new Racal networking cabinet that she had placed in the middle of the room. The fan in it was running, but nothing was inside! There were, however, hubs resting on new car tires (at least the tires weren't used, and there was an attractive piece of plywood covering the hole in the center of the tires).

I found PCs on the floor (not plugged in) that office workers were using as foot rests. Basically, everyone had the Admin password. When I changed it and didn't tell the masses, boy, was I the most unpopular person ever to walk into the dealership! As you can imagine, I have not had the ability to 'help out' in the accounting group.”

Jerry A., Network Administrator/MIS Director
“I had just left a large reseller/technology provider as a systems engineer and was ready to spread my wings as a Network Administrator/MIS Director. My credentials were good (MCP + INTERNET, MCSE, COMPAQ ASE, CNA 4.11 & 5.00, and a various host of smaller certificates). I was ready to take the big plunge.

During the hiring interview, I was told that although things weren't as good as they should be (albeit, that is why they were looking for a new MIS guy), they were in pretty good condition. Questions were asked. Answers were given. Offers were made (and counter offers, and so on). I knew that I would be a great asset to this company. Besides, it was only 17 miles from the house (back roads, at that) as opposed to the 70 miles (one way) through Metro traffic that I was handling at the time. The interview was over and the offer was made. A handshake later, I was the new MIS Director/Network Administrator for a small but growing design/build firm. (Click to page two to find out how the new job turned out.)

How Jerry’s new job turned out
“Little did I know what I had done. I was excited (short commute, no large company with lots of red tape, little or no travel, and decent working hours). During my first walk-through, however, I discovered the following items immediately:
  • There was no network map.
  • There were not enough drops for equipment.
  • There were no identification markings on any equipment or cables.
  • Personnel logged in using first name and no password.
  • Computers were left on all the time, and never logged off.
  • The users list (most of whom had left the company years ago) was longer than a car salesman's Christmas card list. There was no rhyme or reason for who had what software or where they stored data.
  • The server was a Pentium 120MHZ with two 4 GB hard drives. Company was trying to keep 10 gigs of data on this machine.
  • Numerous workstations were being used as off-network storage devices, but with no history and direction on where stuff was.
  • The tape backup unit on the server was broken, and no one could remember when the last tape backup had been done or where it was.
  • No software or hardware had been checked for Y2K compliance (this was August 1999)
  • Everyone had adminstrator's rights.

That was just the tip of the iceberg. After many weeks, and many long hours (so much for the great working hours) and trips to our offices located in two other states (these offices were not connected via WAN but now are), I am Y2K compliant, user friendly, backed up, and truly RAID tolerant (5 9.1 GB hard drives in a RAID 5 array) using On-Stream Tape Drive, with Veritas Backup.exe. The past few months have flown by. New server, new operating system, new storage, new setup, and user IDs, passwords, RAS/ISDN routers, and so forth. I have also learned the hard way just how compatible software is with WAN.

“I am now much smarter and much the wiser for the experience. I will say this though: it has tested every area of expertise that I had and has forced me to grow professionally. My credentials have been tested and found to be true. I would like to have choked the designer/administrator of this network, but now that this is over, I think I would like to thank him for giving me an opportunity to test my skills and see what I am really made of. Whew! But I am glad I have tamed this beast and have gotten it under control.”
We received many more horror stories than we can publish in a single article. Next week we’ll feature testimony from The Second Network Admin’s Club members Bret Neisler, Marc Meijer, David Weaver, Rodney Broder, and J. C. Warren. Follow this link to submityour story .
How Jerry’s new job turned out
“Little did I know what I had done. I was excited (short commute, no large company with lots of red tape, little or no travel, and decent working hours). During my first walk-through, however, I discovered the following items immediately:
  • There was no network map.
  • There were not enough drops for equipment.
  • There were no identification markings on any equipment or cables.
  • Personnel logged in using first name and no password.
  • Computers were left on all the time, and never logged off.
  • The users list (most of whom had left the company years ago) was longer than a car salesman's Christmas card list. There was no rhyme or reason for who had what software or where they stored data.
  • The server was a Pentium 120MHZ with two 4 GB hard drives. Company was trying to keep 10 gigs of data on this machine.
  • Numerous workstations were being used as off-network storage devices, but with no history and direction on where stuff was.
  • The tape backup unit on the server was broken, and no one could remember when the last tape backup had been done or where it was.
  • No software or hardware had been checked for Y2K compliance (this was August 1999)
  • Everyone had adminstrator's rights.

That was just the tip of the iceberg. After many weeks, and many long hours (so much for the great working hours) and trips to our offices located in two other states (these offices were not connected via WAN but now are), I am Y2K compliant, user friendly, backed up, and truly RAID tolerant (5 9.1 GB hard drives in a RAID 5 array) using On-Stream Tape Drive, with Veritas Backup.exe. The past few months have flown by. New server, new operating system, new storage, new setup, and user IDs, passwords, RAS/ISDN routers, and so forth. I have also learned the hard way just how compatible software is with WAN.

“I am now much smarter and much the wiser for the experience. I will say this though: it has tested every area of expertise that I had and has forced me to grow professionally. My credentials have been tested and found to be true. I would like to have choked the designer/administrator of this network, but now that this is over, I think I would like to thank him for giving me an opportunity to test my skills and see what I am really made of. Whew! But I am glad I have tamed this beast and have gotten it under control.”
We received many more horror stories than we can publish in a single article. Next week we’ll feature testimony from The Second Network Admin’s Club members Bret Neisler, Marc Meijer, David Weaver, Rodney Broder, and J. C. Warren. Follow this link to submityour story .

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