In the previous two posts I discussed some differences between proactive and reactive server administration. In this post I discuss some things that you can do to shift more from being a reactive to a proactive server administrator.
Identify key future technologies
You should always have a list of at least 5 technologies in your head that you want to find out more about or skill up on. The tools that you’ll be working with in a few years time will be different to the tools that you work with today. The difference between a proactive and a reactive server administrator is that the proactive server administrator is prepared for change, the reactive server administrator simply responds to it.
Take control of your training
One of the big differences I notice between the server admins I meet that seem behind the curve and those that are ahead of it is their approach to training. The server admins that are ahead of the curve take responsibility for their own training. They purchase training materials like books and Pluralsight subscriptions out of their own funds, or simply take the time to watch TechEd/Ignite sessions when they aren’t in the office. The server admins that are behind the curve often have an attitude that boils down to “I’m not doing any training unless it is on the company’s clock and dollar”. Each organization is different, and even if they aren’t willing to pay for you to go out on a course, they may allow you a certain number of hours each week to perform self study tasks. Some work environments may not allow that. In that case, it’s up to you to use your own time to learn enough to be able to move to a work environment where your continuing education is a priority.
Improve your time management
It’s fairly likely that you don’t actually use the time that you have as effectively as you might. Figure out what you spend most of your time doing and then work out ways how you might do that task more efficiently. That seems like pretty obvious advice, but the reality is that many server administrators spend a good deal of time on tasks that take quite a bit of time for little overall benefit. There is much more to be gained by optimizing something that takes 5 hours out of every week than optimizing a task that only takes half an hour out of every week.