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Why I do it - Ed's journal
Why I do it
There's been a recent discussion about staff morale.
It's been 'somewhat low' following redundancies, pay freezes and general manglement policies.

There's been a suggestion of flexitime.
We've currently got free coffee.

But the thing is, you see, they've not really figured out why us ops people do it.

It's not about the money. Well, it's nice to get paid, nicer still to get paid well, and fantastic to get paid well enough to do the stuff that you want.

But that's not why we do the things we do.

We do it because it's fun. We like new challenges. We like new things to play with. And we like being able to work on different things day to day, hour to hour.

At the moment I have two Projects, 4 projects (lower case p - differentiated from a Project because they don't get project managed or deadlines), a 'to do' list with some 50odd entries on it, and whatever helpdesk calls we get. I do it, because I like the variety. I like the opportunites to learn about, understand and 'get' the mental paradigm of whatever technology, be it SAN, NAS, VMware, TCP/IP, webserving, programming perl.

Whilst I may not know as much about a tech that I 'can do' than a specialist, I'm well able to get a starting point, and with a week or two of 'messing around' get things in a workable state.

The real art of systems admin is to pick up a tech, and understand the concepts within it. Encyclopediac knowledge of 'all the functions and their arguments within the Win32 API' is not required. (Helpful, but far from necessary).
The real trick is all about understand the concepts. Once you grok how a SAN fits together and works, or a network, or an operating system, or a particular application, then you're almost at the point of being able to 'Admin' it.

The rest of the way includes having had experience with it so you feel comfortable and easy about routine operations, and enough of a feel for it that you can tell when something's not quite right.

But I digress. The thing I was intending to point out is that it's not about the pay or terms and conditions. It's about the stuff we get to play with.
They (ah yes, the ever prevalent, but otherwise ethereal 'they') don't seem to understand that just giving everyone a £200 PDA would do _far_ more in morale terms than a grand a year pay rise. (Although aircon would go a long way too)

Cos ... you know ... it's a new toy innit? One that one doesn't have to feel guilty for buying, or explain to family why that £200 went on _you_ rather than _them_.

The thing is, if I were to win the lottery, then I'd probably end up buying myself a server room and just pissing around in it. Hosting servers for people on a 'pint of beer every now and then' sort of tarriff, and play with a remarkably similar set of toys.
Just more, and bigger ones.

Yes, there's always stuff that goes wrong, irate users, technolgy failures, and other bags of shite that you don't want to be dealing with. But there's also the rich overwhelming satisfaction after something going horribly wrong that you _can_ deal with it.

Actually, the thing I haven't worked out yet is why they pay me to have this much fun...
4 comments or Leave a comment
jambon_gris From: jambon_gris Date: May 19th, 2004 06:04 am (UTC) (Link)
funny I was having a conversation about pay today too. I aint paid half of what i could earn elswhere. Oxfordshire is almost as expensive as sunny London, abnd inm on £22k a year. I got asked to a second interview for a job crunching numbers for the Warwickshire Polce force (as a drugs reduction analyist) for 35K a year, but it looked crap. I get lasers and radio active things and exploding metal to play with here. Proper big bad boy toys not a nice desk that is after all what we want. Money can buy quality of life but after a certain point the extra cash doesnt compensate for the agrovation.
the_wood_gnome From: the_wood_gnome Date: May 19th, 2004 09:58 am (UTC) (Link)
i think you have just changed my plan for when I win the lottery.

a huge server in my house sounds more fun than anything atm. although the masively complex underground lair to put it in sounds fun too.
crashbarrier From: crashbarrier Date: May 19th, 2004 11:06 am (UTC) (Link)
you could put a server in your lair.. make it twice as interesting:D
xarrion From: xarrion Date: May 19th, 2004 10:28 am (UTC) (Link)
*whimper* Want decent techie job *cry*

Must start catching up on tech. Damn you for reminding me how boring my job is :p
4 comments or Leave a comment