Overworked Admins

How many servers should one admin reasonably be expected to support? Also; inappropirate conversations in the workplace.

March 26, 2004

3 Min Read
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The answer to your question depends on the type and complexity of the servers ... and whom you ask. A Microsoft-certified professional supports 20 Windows servers on average, according to Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine's annual salary survey. Meta Group's research pegs the average system-to-admin range from 10:1 to 20:1.

But my poll of NETWORK COMPUTING editors and contributors found wildly divergent numbers, from 350:2 for Windows servers and 150:2 for Unix in a university setting, down to 3:1 for complex Unix boxes--a critical Solaris system doing financial transactions by the millions, for example.

IT hiring may increase soon (see "Game Plan," below), but meanwhile, your best bet is to work smarter. That might mean taking advantage of consolidation and virtualization technologies. For tips on getting a consolidation project approved despite budget constraints, see Steve Schuchart's cover package "Server Consolidation: Why Less Is More".

Dear Career Coach
I was taught never to discuss religion, sex or politics at work. But a younger IT staffer never misses a chance to poll co-workers and users about touchy subjects. I don't want to seem stodgy, but isn't his behavior a harassment complaint waiting to happen?
You're right about the inappropriateness of your co-worker's behavior. So listen up, readers: If you recognize yourself in MM's letter, remember that the key to good manners is to make those around you feel comfortable--bringing up sensitive subjects is no way to do that. And don't even try the old "I'm a geek so you can't expect me to have social skills" excuse.

Meanwhile, have other staffers told Mr. Inappropriate that they'd prefer he keep his comments to himself? Sometimes that's all it takes to resolve the situation, says David Gomes, a job developer and career coach with The Career Place, one of Massachusetts' One-Stop Career Centers. Gomes says the employee may be trying to be friendly and isn't aware that his choice of topics offends others.

If a word to the wise doesn't work, it's time to involve your HR department, which may offer seminars on appropriate behavior in the workplace. The purpose, of course, is to prevent trouble before it occurs. Once filed, complaints and subsequent lawsuits up the ante, making it more difficult to resolve these matters. Either way, the sooner this is addressed the better.

Send your questions to [email protected]

Game Plan>Good news for IT job seekers: 11 percent of CIOs say they plan to add full-time staff to their IT departments in 2Q 04. Eighty-seven percent say they expect to maintain current staffing levels, while 2 percent anticipate cuts. The net 9 percent hiring increase compares with a 3 percent forecast last quarter and is the largest net increase reflected since the third quarter of 2002, according to Robert Half Technology's Information Technology Hiring Index and Skills Report. Get more information here.

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