When the Network People Go Crazy

<--this guy was the only image result for google image search: "crazy guy network administrator." Unfortunately, I don't know who he is b/c his aspx website is broken. I find that terribly amusing, for some reason.

Today at work the network people did NOT in fact go crazy. Let's get that out of the way.

However, I flashed back during a discussion to some of the ways that network people do go crazy. (All of which occurred at other jobs or in the lives of people other than me.)

I'm glad I'm not a network person anymore.

  1. I don't have a pager. (Nyah-nyah.)
  2. I don't get dusty crawling under desks anymore.
  3. People don't normally break down and cry when talking to me about what they need.

All praise the network administrator.

Thank G-d I'm not one.

Having said that....

The network administrator is a lot like the pharmacist at a hospital...
  • They have to know what the "patient" can withstand
  • They have to be up on the latest developments
  • They need to know what nasty stuff is out there on the street and getting used by their "patients"
  • If they screw up the "patient" dies
  • If they make it too complex, the "patient" doesn't follow the rules, and dies anyway
  • If they don't listen to the rest of the staff, they do the wrong thing, and the "patient" is poisoned
If your network admins go off on their own, you can really, really be in a lot of trouble.

Sometimes the network team gets siloed (smokestacked for you east coasters). They don't run calls to the outside world. They don't deal directly with customers. They are responsible for absolutely everything being up and running. They may actually be told to not fraternize with the other development teams. (Are your network administrators behind a locked door that no one else can open?)

The results can be a sort of technical group think that is really, well, bad. That's the best adjective I can come up with: bad.

Examples of resulting behavior might be:

  • Using Windows to set every single desktop in the organization to bright, eye-squinting, blue. And locking users out of changing it.
  • Requiring an on-site customer visit before being willing to log the call (ensuring that routers don't get bounced for customers too busy to wait around for you.)
  • Closing every port on the firewall. (Hey, it's more secure!)
  • Passwords that change every week, require 15 characters, and 2 each of capitals, numbers, and special characters....
  • Blocking anyone from printing any job larger than 10 pages. (Ink costs! Paper costs! Printers cost!!)
  • Changing the name and IP of the mail server... without telling desktop support.
  • Blocking ALL email attachment types. Like .doc, .xls, .txt... from internal and external users.
  • Installing keystroke logging software to every machine in the organization ("Want to know what your performance review says? Because I know!")
  • Actually wearing clothing that says, "RTFM" to work.

These behaviors may make the network administrators day go better... but they get in the way of the business of the organization. The network doesn't exist to be a thing of it's own, it's an immense, expensive user support tool,and the network administrator needs to understand that if it wasn't for the users, just like the rest of IT, they wouldn't be there.

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