The SysAdmin’s SysAdmin

Sometimes you don’t always get to choose which end-users you want to work with, but sometimes you don’t get to choose your SysAdmin either, even if you are the SysAdmin!

Working in state government, the organizational structure can be absolutely absurd as to whom is in charge of what and under which circumstances. As a SysAdmin for a branch agency of the State, much of what we do is controlled from the top down by the State’s IT department. They are in charge of higher level infrastructure such as the State’s backbone, networking equipment and virtual cluster environments. Other SysAdmins like myself are in charge of everything else for our own agency as a whole.

The problem with this, is that we cannot control a lot of the decisions made by the State IT staff. All we can do is complain. A lot.

My problem comes in full swing today in this example:

Our agency is in charge of disasters and emergency management for the state, and we have many briefings with many other agencies and non-state entities. In the State, we are given many tools to complete our daily tasks such as our Bomgar system, which greatly and swiftly handles the burden of remote desktop support and presentations. Other non-state entities, are at free will to purchase and use whatever service they like best, such as WebEx or Join.Me. My problem comes in today as we prepare for a major state wide storm, and are about to have our “pre-disaster” briefing with the National Weather Service. The NWS has chosen to use Join.Me as their mode of relaying information and doing remote presentations to any and all outlying organizations that have to deal with them on a regular basis.

As I found out this morning with no advanced warning, the State IT department has chosen to block Join.Me because they view web proxy services as a major hole in network security. True. I don’t disagree.

However, because of the nature of our business and how we have to do business with other agencies I asked if we could have a waiver for our VLAN because of our special need. The answer I received back was simple and to the point. “No.”

So I did what I had to… I smiled, nodded, agreed, and did what I wanted anyway without telling them. Through some minor network rewiring (which we are NOT allowed to do without an open work order to State IT, and also not allowed to do ourselves, as we have to “pay” them to do the work), we managed to get an outside cable line direct to the port of the PC we needed to have access, bypassing the State’s network infrastructure all together.

In short, our IT staff learned a valuable lesson today (as we became the end-user of the State) that sometimes gets lost on those cynical IT professionals who have been in the business a while, while dealing with in-house end-users.

If you’re not willing to work with the people that depend on you, the people will find a way to not work with you back.



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