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Managing the Mission Critical Environment
E. Scott Menter, Enterprise Systems Management Corporation
Mission critical environments present an entirely unique set of challenges to the systems manager. "Make it work and watch the budget'' are the standing orders for most systems administrators, and yet in some situations the consequences of systems-related problems can be devastating, whereas in others the result is no more than inconvenience. As UNIX systems are increasingly at the heart of vital financial, medical, and defense technologies, we thought it would be useful to examine how systems administrators can cope with the challenges of managing such an environment. Finding and deploying the correct technology is only half the story: the systems administrator in this role is part of a social dynamic in which personnel and their skills are constantly being evaluated against their ability to support the mission. Thus, to be successful, the systems administrator has to be equally adept at handling both the politics and the technology that are endemic to the mission critical environment.