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LISA '03 — Abstract

Pp. 105-114 of the Proceedings

Peer Certification: Techniques and Tools for Reducing System Admin Support Burdens while Improving Customer Service

Stacy Purcell, Sally Hambridge, David Armstrong, Tod Oace, Matt Baker, and Jeff Sedayao, Intel Corp.


System administrators are under pressure to do more work and provide better customer service with fewer staff members. At the same time, other challenges emerge: constant interrupts, poor morale, career development needs. At Intel Online Services, we use peer certification to reduce system and network administration burdens while simultaneously improving both customer service and staff morale. Intel Online Services (IOS) has teams of system administrators specializing in various areas such as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), mail, DNS, and firewalls. Before peer certification these specialists did all of an area's work, from completing routine changes and handling problem escalations, to doing engineering work. Peer certification was created as a way to add qualified personnel. Specialists certified their peers by having them pass oral content tests and by supervising them doing changes. Tools were created to simplify administration tasks and make them doable by nonspecialists, and varied in complexity and flexibility depending on the expertise needed to do the task. After implementing peer certification, the number of staff certified to make basic changes increased greatly, along with the number of changes made by front line staff, while the number of escalations decreased. Morale improved as interrupts were reduced and staff gained new areas to learn while customer issues and requests were resolved more quickly.
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