Sysadmins worry about security and uptime

Sysadmins worry about security and uptime


The GCN Reader Survey is intended to provide data on trends and product preferences. This survey on LAN management is based on a telephone survey of 100 federal readers who on their subscription forms identified themselves as LAN managers.

What gives feds who oversee LAN operations the biggest headaches?

Keeping networks secure was most often cited by systems administrators and other information technology managers interviewed in a GCN survey on LAN trends.

But feds also mentioned a striking assortment of other daily challenges.

For many LAN managers, network downtime caused by server crashes was a major source of migraines.

'When the domain server goes down, we can't get e-mail or communicate outside the post,' said a network administrator at the White Sands Missile Range in White Sands, N.M.

At a Defense Department facility in Jacksonville, Fla., network unreliability has induced a few headaches in recent days, said a computer specialist at the agency.

'It's been fluctuating. It's been up and down,' he said. 'The major problem is the rotation of people that have knowledge of the network.

'New people coming in cannot troubleshoot or keep the network up and understand how each piece of equipment works, like routers and switches and things like that. It's just happened recently. But hopefully it will stabilize soon. It's just the turnover here. The equipment is fine.'

In a related vein, a Navy senior engineer in San Diego reported that his biggest problem was training network administration staff.

Training problems

Keeping end users trained and up to speed was a difficulty for some feds.

'We're just not set up to train end users,' said a Bureau of Indian Affairs computer specialist in Eagle Butte, S.D.

Users themselves can also be a source of exasperation, the survey found.

For some feds, user carelessness was a major irritation. 'Users forgetting their passwords is my biggest headache,' said an Environmental Protection Agency LAN administrator in San Francisco.

Others felt overwhelmed by user demands. 'Our end users always want everything,' complained a computer specialist at the Army Medical Information Systems System Support Activity in San Diego.

Still others reported struggles on the user hardware and software fronts.

'There's too much outdated equipment on the PC level,' said a computer operations chief at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

'Keeping clients updated on the newest software is my biggest headache,' said a General Services Administration computer specialist in Boston.

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