Sleepwalking Sysadmins - 19 Jul 2012

Systems Administrators secretly hope that when they deploy a new product it will mostly behave like the old product. They hope that the way they did things with the old product still works with the new version. That if the designers have made changes to how things are done, those are obvious and don't involve having to open up a search engine window to figure out "how the heck do I do this thing that I used to know how to do in the previous version?"

When it comes to new features in a product, they hope that they will be implemented in a consistent and logical manner. Or at least in some way that doesn't involve trudging through a 50 page deployment guide that includes its own special appendix of registry modifications. Any procedure that requires trudging through a 50 page deployment guide is probably only going to be performed by someone who wants to do a TechED presentation on the topic.

It isn't unusual to meet administrators whose knowledge of the product hasn't really developed from the first version that they encountered. Many people who started Systems Administration in the NT4/Windows 2000 era use the same techniques and approaches when it comes to managing Windows Server 2008 R2. They will probably use the same techniques when it comes to Windows Server 2012. They do this because these techniques work and another thing that systems administrator learn fairly often is "if it works, don't mess with it in case it stops working".

Unfortunately IT isn't a business in which you can stop learning. If you are tired of learning or just too busy, you should work on getting yourself promoted to management.

When a new version of a product comes out that you need to deploy, spend some quality time figuring out what is new and what is different. Figure out how things have changed. Most importantly, recognize that reality does not reflect that comment from the movie "Tron: Legacy" where the bad guy says that the only difference between the new version and the old is the name.

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Orin Thomas is a contributing editor for Windows IT Pro and a Windows Security MVP. He has authored or coauthored more than thirty books for Microsoft Press, founded the Melbourne System Center,...
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