a server admin returning from a real weekend

27 Apr

I work or semi work most weekends because of the nature of supporting servers. I may not do much over the weekend but I am on call and browsing emails from my phone. Its does make for a more pleasant Monday morning but it has a drag on my personal life. So often we support people can get stuck in firefighting mode. This is a terribly draining feeling when evening comes around and you haven’t finished anything you intended to do that day.

I have been fortunate to get Good Friday off everywhere I have worked in my IT career. This last Easter weekend was a well enjoyed real weekend. I didn’t check email but once late Friday.

Planning for this three day weekend was key to an easy Monday. Making a list of things I was currently working on Thursday afternoon helped me clear my mind of ongoing projects so I could enjoy my weekend. I closed out of the applications I had open so I wasn’t distracted when I unlocked my computer on Monday.

I was also well aware of issues we have when our company is off and the banks are open. I didn’t do a great job of preventing these issues, however I knew where to look and how to fix these issues.

When I sat down at my desk I had a list of things I was working on but that would wait until I completed this checklist:

1. Alerts – A common problem we have is running out or nearly out of space. We keep our servers fairly low on purpose so we can handle rapid growth on expensive disk when necessary. Server down alerts I try to filter a copy to my inbox so they will come to my phone, I usually get to those when I wake up in the morning
2. Urgent emails or from Familiar people – There are about three people that come to mind where if they send me an email, I better read it right away. For people not on that list, don’t be afraid to flip the urgent switch because I’ll check those first.
3. HTTP request/ sql conn important pages and databases – Automated monitoring isn’t fullproof, write your own you can trust or open connections/ browsers and pop the key systems that need to be online at 8am
4. pop open the calendar to make sure you won’t miss meetings
5. get to the second layer of emails – this is not time for completing any tasks that will take more than 2 minutes, do write down todo items or flag the emails.
6. check your issue tracking software for problems outside of email
7. complete any items from your Thursday list and resume sanity

To get myself out of firefighting mode I have got a plan for a personal dashboard. Integrating with existing monitoring software and even writing some custom portlets to limit the influx of data after a three day weekend. Right now its in bits and pieces in different locations. Every time I move to a new application I incur risk of being distracted. I plan on adding to this list and posting some source for some monitoring tools.

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Posted by on April 27, 2011 in Uncategorized


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