August 6, 2012
I just got home from my first day as a sysadmin at Northeastern, and I think I'm really going to like it.
Since this is my first position in academia, I can't generalize and say "wow, academia is so much different than private enterprise" (I'll leave that for others who know better than I do), but I can tell you that it's going to be a really interesting period of acclimation.
The infrastructure that I'm dealing with is widely varying. The College of Computer and Information Sciences has been around since 1982, and I suspect there are still small lingering parts of that infrastructure lurking about. While part of the infrastructure is utterly modern (particularly the user-facing portions such as the managed Windows and Linux desktops), there are certain portions that are visibly datable to the early 90s.
The "onboarding" process (does anyone else hate that term?) reminds me of how we used to bring people on at IA when I started there. It's pretty rough and it could definitely be streamlined and automated, but when there's an average turnover rate of around seven years, you have to wonder if it's really worth the effort.
What is worth the effort is unifying the knowledge base. There IS network documentation, but it's pretty well spread out, questionably updated (my predecessor actually left a year ago), and inconsistent. Creating a cohesive documentation repository (one which can, hopefully, be updated in an automated fashion) will go a long way to making the infrastructure faster to pick up for whoever has to do this next time.
Also up for renovation is the monitoring system, but I'll save that for a later episode of This Old Infrastructure.