No admin wants that late night call interrupting their family dinner or holiday party. Nevertheless, it should be expected when you're in charge of technology, especially for a large enterprise. Murphy's Law tells us that everything stays quiet until it's your turn for time off. You can't escape 911 issues during the holidays, but you can take steps to make your sysadmin life easier.
Don't Jump Into Big Projects, Especially Large Upgrades.
Every administrator knows that big upgrades require long-term babysitting until the system bugs are flushed out and resolved. You don't want to babysit new systems during the holidays, so set a blackout time to stop all changes to the network several weeks prior to the holidays. You can still keep basic maintenance schedules, but any major changes should wait until after New Year's.
Your Smartphone Can Spare You from Many Headaches.
Years ago, if an administrator got a 911 phone call, they had to break out a laptop or find the nearest desktop. They would then VPN into the network and start fixing things. Sometimes, a server just needs a reboot to fix what ails it, and it's a common occurrence when you're away.
Today, you don't necessary have to work on a desktop. Your smartphone can be used for many of the administrative tasks that you do at the office. You can check server status messages, reboot them, and even control services. Load up on every smartphone app that gives you control of your servers to save time while you're away.
Invest in USB Drives for Your Favorite Tools.
You won't be able to find smartphone apps for everything you need to do, but you can compensate by downloading your tools onto a USB drive. You'll probably need several drives to load up all of your tools, and they are a boon during busy holiday seasons when you have time off.
Overheating servers, failed updates, critical security patches and frozen applications are just a few of the common issues you probably see monthly. You can use the USB-transferred tools to fix these issues remotely instead of dragging yourself to the office.
Have a List of Team Phone Numbers and Contact Information.
Serious problems require a team effort, and chances are, you'll need to contact someone should your servers suffer from critical downtime. Think security breach or server issues that impact revenue. Whether your organization has a NOC or you have a team on-call during critical outages, time is of the essence. Having your team's contact information will greatly reduce the time it takes to get servers back online and functioning, which means you can more quickly return to your holiday party.
Have a Rotating Schedule for On-Call Support.
You shouldn't need to be on call for every holiday, and neither should any other person on staff. Build a rotation schedule where each staff member takes a weekend or a holiday and then has the following one off. This gives everyone the opportunity to enjoy a holiday without interruptions, and it can be a good incentive for staff who want one holiday off and are willing to work another.
Even better - offer bonuses to staff members who stay on call during holidays if you have that type of authority. You would be surprised at the number of people who want to take over during the holidays when you offer them a bonus.
In the end, the main goal for every sysadmin should be to prepare for the worst and be pleasantly surprised when you get off easy with no critical errors. A little preparation and intuition goes a long way when you want to have a happy holiday rather than a disastrous one.
At Serverpoint.com we offer 24/7 customer support to handle any basic technical support issues that you may be having. And for more complicated problems that have to do with the internals of the server we offer managed support plans, where you will get a technician to help you with the configuration of your server. Feel free to contact ServerPoint with any questions you may have. We are always here for you!