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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Thu, May 10, 2001 (Vol. 6, #33 - Issue #268)
Your System Admin Checklists
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
  1. EDITORS CORNER
    • Save This Issue!
  2. TECH BRIEFING
    • Your System Admin Checklists
  3. NT/2000 RELATED NEWS
    • Listening To MOM Is Expensive
  4. NT/2000 THIRD PARTY NEWS
    • New Transcender Exam Simulations For Cisco's CCNP And CCDP
    • Schools On NT/W2K Recouping Millions On Student Printing Costs
  5. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  6. PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
    • Windows 2000 Power Toolkit, written by yours truly
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  EDITORS CORNER

Save This Issue!

The one thing that has been requested the most over the last year, has been these System Admin lists we compiled. So we decided to update them, and get everyone a refreshed version. You should save this issue if you can. It's likely you're going to need it some where down the line.

Another observation I was sent today, shows we'll shortly have a lot of very powerful, very cheap hardware we can get our hands on. Why? IT is down at the moment, and that means an inventory glut. So you will see a bonanza of tech purchasing late this summer. Investmenthouse.com ended their comment with: "That is going to give us the best equipped business sector in the entire world. Lean, mean, and 'teched' out to the hilt." If we can skate by the recent slowness, we are going to see a massive tech buildup once again at cheap prices. It's the time for good deals.

Warm regards,
Stu Sjouwerman
(email me with feedback: [email protected])

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  TECH BRIEFING

Your System Admin Checklists

We compiled this item in last year, but I got SO many requests for it on a regular basis from people that lost it, heard about it, and wanted it that I decided that it was time to re-run it with an update. Here you go!

Most of us wear many hats: Systems Manager, Network Admin, Security Admin, Database Admin, Telecommunications Admin, Email Administrator, and sometimes WebMaster but senility is setting in and we can't remember them all. :-))

A thread on the NTSYSADMIN list server discussed what a System Admin really needed to do. Out of the 40 postings or so, I grabbed all the items that seemed not duplicated and plugged them into one list, for daily, (nightly) weekly, monthly and 'incidental' activities.

I'm not claiming it is complete, but it's at least a good start. Items are not in order of importance, and of course the activities are determined by the size of your site. You can add the items that are relevant to your own job. A lot of this can be automated with tools, but then you have to continue to check if the tools do the job. Here is the updated version. You can even use this as a start for a job description. Hope it helps!

Daily:

  • Check event log of every server, fix/try to fix as needed.
  • Creating new directories, shares, and security groups, new accounts, disabling/deleting old accounts, managing account policies.
  • Make sure backup runs and make sure the restore works as planned.
  • Plugging Security holes, in both the OS and apps like IIS.
  • Exchange Management including DL's, users, etc.
  • Train the training people, helpdesk people, and end users.
  • Answer all important emails from CFO/CEO/IT-MIS Director.
  • Glance over T1-hookups, switches, hubs, make sure everything is green.
  • Check router logs.
  • Check firewall logs.
  • Check if Disaster Recovery Systems are still functioning
  • Various calls to MS Support for things that really aren't your fault.
  • Check for free space on all servers, for file pollution and quotas.
  • Ensure that all server services are running.
  • Ensure that antivirus definitions are up-to-date.
  • Run defrag and chkdsk on all drives.
  • Monitor WINS replication.
  • Monitor directory replication.
  • Maintain performance baseline data.
  • Monitor RAM for runaway processes or memory leaks.
  • Monitor network traffic with sniffer or NETMON to keep performance up.
  • Keep Service Pack (and/or) hotfixes current as per company policy.
  • Monitor Web traffic for indications of attacks.
  • Install software for users
  • Monitor user email for corporate policy violations.
  • Check Print Queues.
  • Keep a log of everything you have fixed or performed maintenance on.
  • Make sure all apps are shared.
  • Permissions and filesystem management.
  • Check for bad system and .ini files on database server (Btrieve).
  • Make sure load on database server is acceptable and ghosted users are cleared as well as multiple logons.
Nightly:
  • Backups
(Next Applies to Terminal Server admins only)
  • Reboot each Citrix server.
  • Delete all autocreated printers stuck.
  • Clear out rogue local profiles.
  • Backups
Weekly:
  • Clean Servers, check for .tmp files, and other file pollution.
  • Implement any new policy, permission, logon script, or scheduled script modifications.
  • Research, Research, Research.
  • Change any active monitoring & alerting (third party tools) as needed.
  • Update Website, External and Intranet, process website log reports.
  • Check PerfMon, NetMon, (or 3rd party tools) for OK baselines.
  • Reboot Servers if needed.
  • Keep up-to-date on IT news regarding my networks.
  • Evaluate software for System Admin purposes.
  • Try to get some MCSE study time in.
  • Performance Monitoring/Capacity Planning- Budgeting for the future.
  • Uptime/Downtime reports.
  • Auditing network for unauthorized changes, ideally both from the inside but also outside-in.
  • Plan for W2K migration.
Monthly:
  • Rebuild Databases as needed.
  • Gather statistics on Webservers. Send to CEO/CIO/CTO/CFO (Whomever).
  • Clean exchange mailboxes.
  • Change Service Account Passwords (not doing this is Russian roulette).
  • Convincing your boss that most of this stuff _needs_ to be done.
  • Extended testing backups with restores.
  • Maintaining applicable Service Level Agreements.
  • Set System and Application priorities: If more than one thing is broken, what needs to be fixed first.
  • Managing off-site storage of backup tapes, whether you take them home or a service picks them up.
  • IT System vulnerability analysis: like "This mail server uses this mail router- what's the impact if one or both are down (if mail server is down mail router will store inbound mail and may run out of disk space).
  • Periodically reviewing all of the above, is documentation up to date? Has the Disaster Recovery Plan been updated to reflect changes in the environment?
  • Periodically reviewing workload. Are some things no longer done?
  • Periodically review company technical environment. How can it be improved?
Initial or Occasionally:
  • Disaster Recovery to alternate site, in case of emergency. Configure and maintain DNS - Internal and External, DHCP, WINS, TCP/IP, etc.
  • Document the full network.
  • Rebuild corrupt servers.
  • Test the Restore Procedure.
  • Reconfigure domain structure.. again.
  • Get a performance baseline for things like %Processor Time, PageFaults, Disk Queues.
  • Initial checklist should include status of administrative and service passwords, status of the backups, check out DHCP scope(s), WINS, DNS, remove unnecessary protocols.
And then of course: drink lots of coffee, post Dilberts all over your cubicle, surf the web, smoke cigars out back, walk around the office looking busy with a concerned look on your face, make personal phone calls, look for better work on company time, download MP3s and other stuff that slows down the T's .. you know .. important stuff like that.
  NT/2000 RELATED NEWS

Listening To MOM Is Expensive

It's been a long time in the making. Mid nineties, a friend of mine called Selim Kohen in a UK company called Serverware developed a tool called SeNTry. It was the world's first Event Log Monitor tool for NT. After a few years they sold it to the people from Mission Critical in Texas. These in their turn merged with NetIQ, and after more development the code was sold to MS for something like $175M. So now it's here and after 4 name changes it's called "MOM 2000"! It's a strange world. Selim would have been thrilled to know, but he left us way too soon.

MS just unveiled its new Microsoft Operations Manager 2000 at the NetWorld +Interop 2001 Las Vegas show. They call it an enterprise-class event and performance management solution for servers and applications. And it will be sent to manufacturing next month. There are quite a bit of tools in the market that do this, but MS claims that its centralized features will support MS.NET, Exchange 2000 and SQL Server 2000.

As you perhaps know, MS is a strong proponent for the so called "scaling out" of your environment. Meaning adding more servers instead of throwing out a small one and replace it with a bigger one which is the more traditional way of growing, and is called "scaling up". There are big advantages for sure, but before you know it you know manage 50 servers which causes major headaches by itself.

If we look at the MOM features, here are the highlights:

  • Event and performance management are accessible from a single console that categorizes and prioritizes
  • Support for AD, IIS, Exchange and SQL
  • Management packs, including knowledge and expertise per environment
  • Scalable architecture - move from 5 servers to 500
  • Will complement MS SMS, and APP Center 2000
  • NetIQ will provide more Management packs like Oracle, Sun and Novell.
Sounds all good. Until you hear the price. MOM has a very expensive taste. It's scheduled to be available this summer for $849 (estimated retail price) per processor for each managed W2 Server or NT Server. So, I walked over to our Server room and counted: 27 CPU's. That would set me back $22,923.00 greenbacks. Yowser!

But that's not all. The above price includes the 'basic' management facilities which includes Active Directory and IIS. But I have an Exchange Server and a SQL server in the mix. How about those? Well, the Application Management Pack (which provides information for managing nearly all MS server-products, including Exchange and SQL Server) is available for an additional $949 (estimated retail price) per processor.

Some quick math showed that out of these 27 CPU's we are running, 8 are either SQL or Exchange. Add another $7,592 with a sweet total of $30,505 for our relatively modest environment supporting 60 staff. Dang! MS said on their product page: "Listen To Your MOM", but she sure has some expensive habits. Who has budget for that? Here are MOM's specs:
http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=051001-MSMOM

A tool that does a lot of this is called Event Log Monitor, and is just $345 per machine, not per CPU. Total cost for the Sunbelt server room would have been $4K as opposed to $30K.
http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=051001-ELM

  THIRD PARTY NEWS

New Transcender Exam Simulations For Cisco's CCNP And CCDP

Transcender released two new exam simulations for the Cisco Certified Network Professional and Cisco Certified Design Professional certs. They are called RoutingCert 1.0 and SwitchingCert 1.0. The first one is a simulation of the Building Scalable Cisco Networks (BSCN) 640-503 exam. SwitchingCert 1.0 is a simulation of the Building Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks (BCMSN) exam 640-504. Single-user licenses for these exam simulations are available for $179 each.

RoutingCert 1.0 and SwitchingCert 1.0 both contain three full-length exam simulations, including customized and randomized exam options. Each exam provides in-depth questions and answer explanations that explain why the right answer is correct and why the wrong answer is wrong. They also feature a score history report that pinpoints the user's weak areas requiring further study and references in each questions to Cisco study materials. For more detail, check:
http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=051001-TranscenderCISCO

Schools On NT/W2K Recouping Millions On Student Printing Costs

NT is worldwide a very popular platform in both middle schools and higher education. Many are upgrading or switching to Windows 2000. In every instance, as these platforms have no functionality to adequately control how much users can print, student printing is out of control knocking school budgets askew with paper and toner costs.

More than 65 percent of all computers in schools are now Windows-based PCs. During the current school year, 70 percent of the computers that schools plan to purchase will be Windows-based PCs, according to Quality Education Data of Denver. According to sources at Yale University and other colleges and universities in the US, the average 25,000 student population college, where students have been given internet access, is printing approximately 200 million pages per year.

Toner and paper costs for normal laser printing runs at about 5 cents per page. If factoring in the costs of technology maintenance and hardware costs, the per page cost is 10 cents to 15 cents. Based on the above, the average 25k student population school is spending $10 million to $30 million a year in printing costs.

This is an expense which schools did not have even up to a few years ago. The biggest reason given by systems admins for the exploding printing costs was firstly student access to the internet and secondly the increased availability of printers and technology due to rapidly reducing prices over the last several years.

A Network Administrator at a California University recently reported that the cost of student printing in toner and paper alone was breaking the budget ever since they had gone to NT. The only software package he could find that could limit student printing had taken him two months to set up and cost $18,000 and it still did not work. He had recently found Print Manger Plus and was completely thrilled that it worked at once upon installation and completely solved his problem.

Print Manager Plus paid for itself in less than a week in saved toner and paper cost. It had cost $425.00 compared to an $18,000 package that never worked. Print Manager Plus is probably the most vital third party tool for any school that has gone NT or to Windows 2000. That tool alone can pay for the cost of not only itself but also the cost of the entire Microsoft software migration where there are lots of students. If your students or employees binge on printing, check:
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/product.cfm?id=668

  FAVE LINKS

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

  • New site with a lot of free training video's to get you to MCSE
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=051001FL-FreeMCSE
  • Want to know what site your potential customer/competitor/consultant runs?
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=051001-WhatsThatSiteRunning?
  • Need more security budget out of your CIO? Send them to Gartner!
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=051001FL-GartnerInfosec
  •   PRODUCT OF THE WEEK

    Windows 2000 Power Toolkit, written by yours truly

    As I said in the Editor's Corner, you can now order your W2K Power Toolkit via Amazon.com and get almost 500 bucks worth of software thrown in! If you make your reservation right away, they will ship the book+CD to you the moment they get their big shipment in on the 11-th. W2K Power Toolkit assist you in the analysis, tuning, opti- mization, automation, enhancement, maintenance, and troubleshooting of Windows 2000. Barry and I show you how to use operating system utilities, Resource Kit applications, and third-party tools to help you accomplish everyday and advanced W2K system tasks.

    And with it, comes a FREE permanent full function copy of AutoPilot for Windows 2000, (See Tech Briefing). You'll find a coupon in the back of the book that allows your free download of these tools. This is a value of $497.00 thrown in at no cost. Here's where:
    http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=050701-StusNewBook