Administration of a single computer or a network of computers has evolved in many directions over the past few years. In the not-too-distant past, an administrator of single computers only required to be concerned with a few relatively simple tasks such as checking the integrity of a hard disk or ensuring modem connectivity. For networked systems, the most common task for administrators was ensuring access to shared files and other network resources such as printers.
Today both stand-alone and networked system administration have become increasingly complex. Stand-alone systems typically have access to the Internet, a host of new peripherals (video cameras, removable storage drives, DVDs, and so on), and multiple software applications that require at least intermittent attention. Networked systems can provide services locally as well as globally by using the Internet. Although these systems have many of the same administration issues as stand-alone systems, they additionally must deal with a host of new issues related to server and network administration.
Underlying this plethora of new technology are multiple administration programs, each with its own unique user interface. It is not always easy to find the administration program required for a particular application or peripheral. In addition, administration program user interfaces are not customizable to fit the knowledge and skill level of the administrator, adding to the training and supervisory loads of experienced administrators. All of these issues contribute to a long learning curve for new system administrators and a high frustration level for current system administrators.
A typical server administrator uses a wide range of applications to keep a server running smoothly. These applications control such things as databases, printers, networks, Internet connectivity, telephones, computer hardware, automated software installations, and user accounts. Each application has a different user interface. It can be difficult to find the application required to do the task at hand. For example, an application appearing on the Start menu can easily be buried under a menu item not usually associated with the task at hand.
The following list contains problems that might be experienced by computers and network administrators:
- Administration tools can be hard to find.
- Each administration tool has its own unique user interface.
- In general, tools cannot be customized to the knowledge or skill level of the intended user.