Welcome to my blog! Yeah I know, real original opening; the evil geniuses at Google only find that exact phrase 111 million times. Oddly enough, Bing returns just 8.1 million hits, perhaps giving some validity to their argument that they filter out a lot of junk. Not to say that nearly 103 million of the other blogs out there are junk…it’s probably closer to the full 111 million. After all, how many of us have something truly interesting to say? Sadly, not too many. Of course that doesn’t stop quite a lot of us from trying, and I’m no different in that respect.
That said, I have no delusions of grandeur. If this blog takes off, great. If not, I won’t consider my life any less fulfilling. But if having my ego stroked isn’t my goal, what is? That brings me to the title of this post.
We’ve all heard the expression “Jack of All Trades, Master of None.” While strictly speaking there’s nothing derogatory about the phrase, the reality is it typically has a negative connotation when used, implying that the “jack” and/or his skills are quite superficial. And unfortunately, many of us Network Administrators find ourselves unfairly painted with this brush – even by other “specialists” in IT, as those who don’t understand what we do often make the assumption that because we do so much, our depth of knowledge must be lacking. After all, the implication is you can’t “master” more than a couple skills, can you? Well I reject that argument.
Sure, some companies are so large they need and can afford application-level admins: the Exchange admin, SQL DBA, Cisco engineer, etc. Other environments are so small that they simply don’t require many of the more advanced technologies that are out there. But I believe many of us fall somewhere in the middle; our networks are large enough that we’re using most of the same products as the Fortune 500, yet small enough that application-level admins are impractical and unaffordable. We often manage complex environments with skeleton staffs, and yet are still required to deliver high levels of reliability, security, and functionality. Somebody has to keep all these systems running, and the need to manage multiple systems doesn’t reduce the skill level needed to properly manage any individual one.
While this is nothing new, the increasing complexity of mid-sized networks and the variety of technologies involved means that the problems that arise are more often than not the result of interactions between disparate systems rather than issues within a given product or implementation. As a result, whomever is tasked with troubleshooting these problems needs to know quite a lot about all the systems involved. A modern-day Network Administrator must be a “Jack of All Trades, Master of Many” if he is to succeed.
It’s with this in mind and given my experiences the past few months that have led me to start this blog. Increasingly I find myself in uncharted territory when troubleshooting, rarely able to find start to finish solutions for whatever issue I’m working on. Sure, individual bits of a solution may exist on various blogs, in TechNet articles, in other support documentation, etc., but ultimately I’ve had to piece together quite a lot from various sources. So in an attempt to help out the “next” admin that may face the same or similar problem, I intend to try and document the solutions I find in a straight-forward, concise, and most importantly complete manner.
Just to be clear, I have no desire to post the same info here that you can find a hundred other places. My criteria for posting will essentially be “Is this new info that can’t be found elsewhere in its entirety?” That should guarantee new posts appear with a frequency somewhere between daily and never. We’ll just have to see how it goes.