System Administration and System Administrator's Role in Business Continuity

System Administration and System Administrator's Role in Business Continuity

Nijaz Bajgoric (University of Sarajevo, Bosnia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-160-5.ch009
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Abstract

Chapter IX focuses on the role of system administration as an IT-profession and system administrator as a person who does the administrative (managerial) activites on servers and server operating systems. If server goes down for any reason or server operating system crashes, in most cases it is up to this person to “recover” the server from the bad situation and make sure that business – critical applications continue to run and provide services to end users. HP-UX as a server operating system platform is selected in order to demonstrate most commonly used techniques and features that may lead to higher levels of system availability.
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Introduction

A short introduction on why system administration and system administrator as an IT profession are important in the light of business continuity.

As already mentioned in the first chapter, a super-user or sys-admin account represents one of the most exploited vulnerabilities on IT platforms because of the unlimited power of system administrator’s “super-user” commands. This so-called “root” account or “super-user” (su) on UNIX/Linux servers and System Administrator on Windows server machines posses all permissions and unrestricted access to all the files. Should the root account fall into the wrong hands, the security of the whole server configuration becomes compromised. Some businesses apply an approach, which redefines the role of a superuser into a number of specific superusers with specific roles assigned to different people.

A business can employ several “administrators” for several fields such as: database administrator, network administrator, security administrator, and so forth, with all of them having “all-powerful” capabilities on their specific domain-tasks. However, system administrator on the operating system level has all kinds of file ownerships and privileges, he/she is a kind of “top-level” system administrator, who in most cases supervises all other administrators. Horror story No.3 from the first chapter provides an excellent example of what could happen if such a person applies a wrong command or perform a sys admin – powerful action on user files. That story revealed that British ISP PlusNet lost 700GB of customer e-mails forever because an engineer accidentally deleted the e-mails and then tried an old admin trick to retrieve them. The trick backfired, and instead made the mails irretrievable.

Therefore, system administrator (sysadmin) is a very important person in every information system.These IT professionals use system administration commands in order to:

  • make/change system settings,

  • install/upgrade operating systems,

  • install/reinstall applications,

  • open/close user accounts,

  • make fair use of the system, and so forth.

Depending on the operating system platform, they use different commands or OS tools in order to manage not only operating system but the whole IT platform as well.

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System Administration On Unix (Hp-Ux)1

As an example, a short description of main system administration tasks and activities on HP’s HP-UX operating system is presented. The most widely used techniques as well as more advanced system administration utilities are explained. In addition, some business continuity-oriented integrated tools on HP-UX such as Ignite-UX, Bastille, HP Serviceguard, are presented.

In order to demonstrate the role of sys-admin in the context of continuous computing and business continuity we are going to use UNIX OS platform. Among several versions of UNIX operating system that are in use (HP-UX, AIX, Solaris, Tru64UNIX, IRIX,…) we will use HP’s HP-UX operating system (www.hp.com). The reader should keep in mind that all these UNIX versions are similar, once you learn one of them, it is not so difficult to switch to another one. However, we should also keep in mind that even within the specific UNIX platform, its vendor may have different approaches and solutions within several versions of its UNIX.

UNIX operating system (Linux uses the same approach) uses a specific directory so-called “etc.” directory, which contains most of system administration commands.

HP-UX works on several models of HP servers, including data entry servers, mid-size servers and high-end servers.

Basically there are three sets of system administration activities on HP-UX servers:

  • 1.

    Hardware activities

  • 2.

    Software activities

  • 3.

    End-user activities

Hardware activities include several operations that are aimed at:

  • Verifying of the installation of hardware components (CPU, memory, external memory, peripherals, etc.)

  • Monitoring of the performances of hardware components

  • Activities on hardware repair

Complete Chapter List

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Dedication
Nijaz Bajgoric
Table of Contents
Foreword
Angappa Gunasekaran
Preface
Nijaz Bajgoric
Acknowledgment
Nijaz Bajgoric
Chapter 1
Nijaz Bajgoric
The first chapter aims at defining a “big picture” of contemporary business and business computing. Business pressures and business risks are... Sample PDF
Business Computing in the Internet Era
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Chapter 2
Economics of Downtime  (pages 23-39)
Nijaz Bajgoric
After introducing some basic facts on how today’s businesses are faced with several types of business risks, the second chapter tends to explain one... Sample PDF
Economics of Downtime
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Chapter 3
Nijaz Bajgoric
The previous chapter introduced the two major concepts of continuous computing: downtime and uptime. Chapter three goes a step further and aims at... Sample PDF
Business Continuity and Business Continuity Drivers
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Chapter 4
Nijaz Bajgoric
Based on the framework defined in Chapter III, the fourth chapter discusses the models of information architectures that are used in implementing... Sample PDF
Information Architectures for Business Continuity
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Chapter 5
Nijaz Bajgoric
After identifying major downtime points within a client-server architecture in Chapter IV, Chapter V discusses in more details enterprise servers... Sample PDF
Server Operating Environment and Business Continuity Drivers
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Chapter 6
Server Operating Systems  (pages 103-131)
Nijaz Bajgoric
Server configurations described in Chapter V are operated by server operating systems. Server-based application software and business-critical... Sample PDF
Server Operating Systems
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Chapter 7
Nijaz Bajgoric
Server operating systems described in Chapter VI usually come preinstalled. Additional components can be installed “on-demand” in the form of... Sample PDF
Advanced Server Technologies for Business Continuity
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Chapter 8
Nijaz Bajgoric
Chapter VIII discusses the server operating systems’ main attributes from the selection perspective. Several selection criteria are explained... Sample PDF
Choosing the Server Operating Platform for Business Continuity
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Chapter 9
Nijaz Bajgoric
Chapter IX focuses on the role of system administration as an IT-profession and system administrator as a person who does the administrative... Sample PDF
System Administration and System Administrator's Role in Business Continuity
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Chapter 10
Nijaz Bajgoric
Chapters V-IX dealt with server operating environment and its role in ensuring business continuity mostly in cases of ongoing data processing... Sample PDF
Backup and Recovery Technologies for Business Continuity
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Chapter 11
Nijaz Bajgoric
In addition to standard storage and traditional tape-based backup technologies explained in Chapter X, businesses employ advanced storage... Sample PDF
Advanced Storage Technologies for Business Continuity
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Chapter 12
Nijaz Bajgoric
Continuous computing technologies explored in previous chapters, in many cases, are located on different locations. However, they depend on each... Sample PDF
Networking Technologies for Business Continuity
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Chapter 13
Nijaz Bajgoric
After explaining several continuous computing technologies in previous chapters, the book focuses on business continuity management in Chapter XIII.... Sample PDF
Business Continuity Management
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Chapter 14
Nijaz Bajgoric
Continuous computing technologies are employed in order to achieve business continuity from the business operations perspective. In the same time... Sample PDF
Business Continuity for Business Agility
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About the Author