It would be really interesting to read research about the organizational patterns of information flow. I’ve encountered a place where we administrators have huge problems with getting information. Major events happen beneath our feet, but we feel the force only when the mattress is taken under. There’s no communications beforehand whatsoever. And I can tell that it creates stress, uncertainty and lack of belief in the systems. Not just for the administrators, but users also.
I think every sysadmin has a little bit of control freak inside them. The computers are supposed to take orders and execute them ASAP. This is the fact; it’s not changed by poor communications. But poor comms can leave you in a situation, where eg. you can’t locate the proper computer to give commands at. The host name may not be known to you.
It’s the navigation part of the work that suffers. Situations change and even infrastructure changes with time. We need to have information about these changes to be successful. The problem with documentation is that it should be kept to a reasonable amount; but, then again, which bits are the important ones? If you take a tool to investigate (inventory) a system, you gets loads and loads of raw data. Only some of it is probably useful. For the documentation to be human readable, it needs to be hand edited and made more sensible. This takes time and effort, and requires usually some experience about the systems.
IT is a system consisting of people, information, connections, and hardware. All of these are required. The systems are usually made for human “consumption”. Basically laptops and desktops exist so that we can handle information in a more efficient way. Computers and networks are only tools to enable our new kind of working.
Every administrator is supposed to have a certain basic skill set. It varies with experience and work history, but let’s say for example most Windows admins know how to install and run programs, how to create users on a server, how to make certain security adjustments to the file system, etc. This is basic knowledge.
Virtual and real networks of people are a huge factor in co-operation.
When I’m facing a seeming dead-end, I seek out people to help with the case. It’s
often that somebody within the company knows a solution, and has even faced the same issue before. If only this knowledge could be codified in an easy way. Documentation still seeks the form in which it would be as fresh as possible, and the production
of knowledge wouldn’t take so much resources. I think currently a lot of documentation projects are considered heavy and even dead as they’re born.
Any experiences of using wikis to document an IT infrastructure?
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