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Old 03-12-2019, 09:56 AM   #1
NadEFurY
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How to calm the wrath of a senior sysadmin?


Hey there,

I'm the junior sysadmin.

I was wondering if I could ask a bit of advice.

Recently got myself into a social pickle? that I'm going to have to start solving in the near future and that is.

I chose to replace the existing e-mail system in the company from the core MTA of exim with Postfix. EDIT: This system isn't live, it is being deployed at the moment.
The reasons from my perspective are that I have a little more experience with Postfix myself, the machines we use are OELs, for which this is the default MTA anyway, thus perhaps a point of easier management in the future without much hassle? And well, IMO it seems that the doc seems a bit better for postfix and other add-on modules seem to have more info for postfix too? But that is subjective.

His argument is of'course, "Why did we generate ourselves more work instead of just swapping out the old exim instance with a newer one?"

I was curious, how would you handle this situation, what would you say? Considering the fact that I'm relatively new in the field as well and I have small doubts about the choice too. I mean it would probably be the same in order of difficulty with replacing exim with exim instead of postfix but we do have to implement DKIM, and other elements that we we're actually missing from the current install, such as greylisting and a few others... so... yeah.

The senior admin works remotely, he visits the workplace once a month or 2, this discussion will definately come up, so far it has only remained in IRC.
Advice would be appreciated.


PS. Which MTA do you think is "better"?

Last edited by NadEFurY; 03-12-2019 at 11:31 AM.
 
Old 03-12-2019, 10:13 AM   #2
rtmistler
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Old 03-12-2019, 10:19 AM   #3
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NadEFurY View Post
Hey there,
I'm the junior sysadmin. I was wondering if I could ask a bit of advice. Recently got myself into a social pickle? that I'm going to have to start solving in the near future and that is.

I chose to replace the existing e-mail system in the company from the core MTA of exim with Postfix. The reasons from my perspective are that I have a little more experience with Postfix myself, the machines we use are OELs, for which this is the default MTA anyway, thus perhaps a point of easier management in the future without much hassle? And well, IMO it seems that the doc seems a bit better for postfix and other add-on modules seem to have more info for postfix too? But that is subjective.

His argument is of'course, "Why did we generate ourselves more work instead of just swapping out the old exim instance with a newer one?"

I was curious, how would you handle this situation, what would you say? Considering the fact that I'm relatively new in the field as well and I have small doubts about the choice too. I mean it would probably be the same in order of difficulty with replacing exim with exim instead of postfix but we do have to implement DKIM, and other elements that we we're actually missing from the current install, such as greylisting and a few others... so... yeah.

The senior admin works remotely, he visits the workplace once a month or 2, this discussion will definately come up, so far it has only remained in IRC.
First, this is not a 'social pickle', but a professional one. You don't socialize with this person, you work for them. I bolded some things above for emphasis only.

You say yourself that you're relatively new to the field, and you are the junior person...did you stop to think about what any of that means? You don't just 'choose' to do something company wide, without involving folks higher up and the rest of your team. Unless your name is on the door/building, or you sign paychecks, it isn't your job to make such decisions unilaterally. Do you know *WHY* the current setup is as it is?? Do you know what the larger goals/needs are that the current system provides?? Unless you know the WHOLE PICTURE, you can't guess, and such decisions could have an ENORMOUS impact on things you have no idea about.

You go on to say you have your own doubts about things, and would 'probably' have the same difficulty...which circles back around to your junior position. You become senior because you *KNOW* such things, and have thought about how they impact everything else around them, and have planned for the 99% of pitfalls that you have encountered. You haven't done that yet, which is why the 'probably' is there.

Sorry to sound harsh, but honestly I'd rip you a new one if you took that plan to anyone else but me. You need to apologize immediately for overstepping, and have a discussion with your senior about your ideas. If they are any good at their job, they will listen, but you need to come PREPARED. List out your runilaterlallyeasons for what you're recommending, the pros/cons, deployment plan, fallback plan if things go pear shaped, expenses/costs, etc. Show that you can do the job, and you've given it serious thought. Do **NOT** bring your ego into the room during this talk...this is a technical discussion. You may really feel one way, but don't let it cloud your judgement...things have to function and be maintainable. Sure, you can probably write dozens of scripts/patches/programs to make a system work the way you want...but do you want to maintain it forever? Document all of it? Be on call 24/7 to keep it going, since none of it is standard?
Quote:
PS. Which MTA do you think is better?
Again, not trying to sound harsh, but this is a pointless question. There is no 'better'...there is the tool to fit the job, period. There are pros and cons for EVERYTHING, and the only question you need to solve for is "Does this tool do the job that **I NEED IT TO DO, IN THE MANNER I NEED IT TO**?" You may not get a 100% fit, but if you can get 95%+, that's the one to choose.
 
Old 03-12-2019, 10:44 AM   #4
jsbjsb001
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TB0ne View Post
...
You say yourself that you're relatively new to the field, and you are the junior person...did you stop to think about what any of that means? You don't just 'choose' to do something company wide, without involving folks higher up and the rest of your team. Unless your name is on the door/building, or you sign paychecks, it isn't your job to make such decisions unilaterally. Do you know *WHY* the current setup is as it is?? Do you know what the larger goals/needs are that the current system provides?? Unless you know the WHOLE PICTURE, you can't guess, and such decisions could have an ENORMOUS impact on things you have no idea about.
...
I was thinking almost exactly the same when I read this thread before. If someone done something like that on my desktop machine, let alone if they were working for me, AND done that on system's that I was getting paid to support, I'd tear them a new one myself. I'm surprised the OP still has their job at all (assuming they still do) in all honesty.

Reminds me of a similar situation (not involving computers/company networks), where it's like (to my supervisor) it's their property, you really need to ASK them if we can rip THEIR bush out (he was just going to get me to tear it out without asking them). So it's like "who do you think you are?!", you're asking me to modify someone else's property without their permission - I'm *not* doing that, period.

Sorry NadEFurY, but you can't just make decisions like that all by yourself as a junior sysadmin. I have to agree with TB0ne here, you really should apologize to them, and then offer to help put things back the way they were beforehand.
 
Old 03-12-2019, 11:12 AM   #5
scasey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsbjsb001 View Post
Sorry NadEFurY, but you can't just make decisions like that all by yourself as a junior sysadmin.
I'd even venture to say that even a senior sysadmin can't (shouldn't) make decisions like that all by themselves, if possible.
 
Old 03-12-2019, 11:18 AM   #6
NadEFurY
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Okay, I forgot to mention that the changes aren't actually live yet.


The deployment plan exists, it is going to be parallel until the new one is fully ready. I guess I should've mentioned that.

Another thing is that this was sort of written hastily and I left out the bit that I did discuss this with another sysadmin who is less senior to the one I had in mind. In other words, it hasn't come out of the blue as a unilateral self-made decision. It was more along the lines of, me and him have both more experience with this, may as well go down that route. It suits us both, but we don't know much about him, and I think my colleague actually fears the 'senior' fella a bit too. Even though he's been there for many many years.

The question was more along the lines to what would you say in your defense to the decision.

And yeah I am still between the 2 and yeah, considering the apology and actually falling back to exim, is also on the table.

EDIT: There's 3 of us (4, 4th is on MS systems), + the head of the team.
 
Old 03-12-2019, 11:19 AM   #7
fatmac
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Quote:
surprised the OP still has their job
Sacked on the spot, I'd imagine - likely won't get another job anywhere near a system for many years to come either.

Edit: Aha! Didn't actually do as was intimated in the first post then, yeah, you must take it up with your senior.

Last edited by fatmac; 03-12-2019 at 11:23 AM.
 
Old 03-12-2019, 12:20 PM   #8
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scasey View Post
I'd even venture to say that even a senior sysadmin can't (shouldn't) make decisions like that all by themselves, if possible.
Agree totally. Can't do things like that in a vacuum.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NadEFurY
Okay, I forgot to mention that the changes aren't actually live yet.
And that matters how? You went around your superiors/team, and did something on your own, on the ASSUMPTION it was going to go live.
Quote:
The deployment plan exists, it is going to be parallel until the new one is fully ready. I guess I should've mentioned that.

Another thing is that this was sort of written hastily and I left out the bit that I did discuss this with another sysadmin who is less senior to the one I had in mind. In other words, it hasn't come out of the blue as a unilateral self-made decision. It was more along the lines of, me and him have both more experience with this, may as well go down that route. It suits us both, but we don't know much about him, and I think my colleague actually fears the 'senior' fella a bit too. Even though he's been there for many many years. The question was more along the lines to what would you say in your defense to the decision.
What 'suits you both' is again, immaterial. You need to pull in the ENTIRE TEAM, including your bosses for such a critical infrastructure decision. Again, you do not have the entire picture of the needs of the rest of the organization, and it doesn't sound like you asked.

You talked something over with one of your co-workers, went around your superiors and 'just decided' to do it because it 'suited' the both of you. There is NOTHING about that which is good.
Quote:
And yeah I am still between the 2 and yeah, considering the apology and actually falling back to exim, is also on the table. EDIT: There's 3 of us (4, 4th is on MS systems), + the head of the team.
Doesn't matter if there are 300 on the team, or 3; you are PART of the team, and you need to act like it. The fact that you're 'considering' an apology and 'falling back' to what your boss tells you, speaks volumes. It says to me that you are too young to realize just how bad a move this is from many aspects. You're 'considering' apologizing to your boss for going behind their back? And you're going to be gracious enough to ALLOW your boss to make a decision that doesn't go along with what suits you?? Really???

Again, I'd tear you a new one, if not fire you (and possibly your co-worker, depending on who implemented things), on the spot. Again, unless you own the company or are a boss, you don't make those decisions, period. If you don't like doing things the way you're told, pack your stuff and go elsewhere...that's the reality of the situation. I employ many people, and thanks to how we've grown, haven't had to deal with this often. When I have, things are explained to them as they have been to you now. They are then given the choice to work with the team and know WHY things work like they do, or to leave.

You initially sounded like you were asking for advice, but it sounds now like you're wanting us to give you justification for doing what you did. Personally, I cannot, and I doubt any professional who's in a senior position would.
 
Old 03-12-2019, 12:32 PM   #9
NadEFurY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TB0ne View Post
Agree totally. Can't do things like that in a vacuum.

And that matters how? You went around your superiors/team, and did something on your own, on the ASSUMPTION it was going to go live.

What 'suits you both' is again, immaterial. You need to pull in the ENTIRE TEAM, including your bosses for such a critical infrastructure decision. Again, you do not have the entire picture of the needs of the rest of the organization, and it doesn't sound like you asked.

You talked something over with one of your co-workers, went around your superiors and 'just decided' to do it because it 'suited' the both of you. There is NOTHING about that which is good.

Doesn't matter if there are 300 on the team, or 3; you are PART of the team, and you need to act like it. The fact that you're 'considering' an apology and 'falling back' to what your boss tells you, speaks volumes. It says to me that you are too young to realize just how bad a move this is from many aspects. You're 'considering' apologizing to your boss for going behind their back? And you're going to be gracious enough to ALLOW your boss to make a decision that doesn't go along with what suits you?? Really???

Again, I'd tear you a new one, if not fire you (and possibly your co-worker, depending on who implemented things), on the spot. Again, unless you own the company or are a boss, you don't make those decisions, period. If you don't like doing things the way you're told, pack your stuff and go elsewhere...that's the reality of the situation. I employ many people, and thanks to how we've grown, haven't had to deal with this often. When I have, things are explained to them as they have been to you now. They are then given the choice to work with the team and know WHY things work like they do, or to leave.

You initially sounded like you were asking for advice, but it sounds now like you're wanting us to give you justification for doing what you did. Personally, I cannot, and I doubt any professional who's in a senior position would.
You're right, I agree with you.

This topic got off on the wrong foot. Now thinking back at it, I didn't think it through when posting and that's my fault.

Knowing what you know, I would behave the same way, and yes, you're right. I'd probably tear myself a new one as well.



This is going to get segmented now into too many pieces, I'm probably considering on closing it off or ending it here.

The point still remains, I am asking for advice how to nicely explain the situation to the 3rd administrator.


The way he works keeps us in the blind on what he's doing. The boss, me and my coworker(whom I spoke to) we are in the same building/office together, he is here occasinally.

Big point here that you weren't aware of: Boss/head of the team is aware of this change, the idea to implement what I am implementing and had nothing to say against it. In other words, yes this is what I SHOULD HAVE MENTIONED AGAIN EARLIER but was too tired and in a hurry, is my fault. He is aware of it, and that is nearly 90% likely the road we are going down. The 3rd administrator wasn't aware of it.

The comapny is small so there is a lot of free maneouvaribility in what we do. It's just the 3rd guy, who is in the loop and at the same time, out of the loop. And righteously annoyed because something that had been working for 14 years is being reworked.

The ins and outs of all the crannies and nooks that work behind the scenes, I'm yet not aware of 100%, but the implementation is in parts. We are doing the external facing SMTP relay first. Not the bit that is doing the mail delivery to their final destination. This machine is essentially a frontend that does all the content scanning, greylisting, DKIM, SPF, DMARC.


Sorry guys, but I think it's just a misunderstanding at this point. I formulated my opening completely wrong and that's my fault.
 
Old 03-12-2019, 12:46 PM   #10
jsbjsb001
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I wouldn't be able to trust someone who isn't going to make sure everyone involved is in the loop from the start.

If you want to make changes, then you need to discuss that with everyone involved *before* any plans are even thought of, let alone made.
 
Old 03-12-2019, 01:15 PM   #11
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NadEFurY View Post
You're right, I agree with you. This topic got off on the wrong foot. Now thinking back at it, I didn't think it through when posting and that's my fault. Knowing what you know, I would behave the same way, and yes, you're right. I'd probably tear myself a new one as well. This is going to get segmented now into too many pieces, I'm probably considering on closing it off or ending it here. The point still remains, I am asking for advice how to nicely explain the situation to the 3rd administrator.
You apologize, first and foremost. You admit you were wrong to leave them out of the loop, and ask them for advice on how best to proceed. Again, explain WHY you are making the recommendation you are making, your thoughts behind it, and the benefits/pros/cons, as was explained previously. Will it hurt your pride? Yes. But you need to do this, and most importantly, you need to LEARN and GROW from this experience.
Quote:
The way he works keeps us in the blind on what he's doing. The boss, me and my coworker(whom I spoke to) we are in the same building/office together, he is here occasinally.

Big point here that you weren't aware of: Boss/head of the team is aware of this change, the idea to implement what I am implementing and had nothing to say against it. In other words, yes this is what I SHOULD HAVE MENTIONED AGAIN EARLIER but was too tired and in a hurry, is my fault. He is aware of it, and that is nearly 90% likely the road we are going down. The 3rd administrator wasn't aware of it.
Does NOT MATTER; you omitted people on your team from things. If the senior administrator keeps you in the dark and doesn't communicate, then you need to (politely), tell them that's part of the issue. Regardless, it is YOUR responsibility to communicate..you cannot control others, only yourself. The flip side is that this also protects YOU, if you analyze things. Think about it: if you had looped in your senior admin to start with and their response was "No, do it xxx way", that opens a door. This is the point where you ask WHY, and start a dialog. If they refuse to tell you, you don't press it yourself; you send it up to your bosses boss, and explain the situation. You then tried to follow the chain of command, communicate with your boss/team, and your boss won't provide details.

At that point, there is NOTHING your senior admin can take issue with, whether they like it or not. There is NOTHING your management team can take issue with, and it'll reflect good on you that you tried to operate professionally as part of a team. That goes a long way.
Quote:
The comapny is small so there is a lot of free maneouvaribility in what we do. It's just the 3rd guy, who is in the loop and at the same time, out of the loop. And righteously annoyed because something that had been working for 14 years is being reworked.

The ins and outs of all the crannies and nooks that work behind the scenes, I'm yet not aware of 100%, but the implementation is in parts. We are doing the external facing SMTP relay first. Not the bit that is doing the mail delivery to their final destination. This machine is essentially a frontend that does all the content scanning, greylisting, DKIM, SPF, DMARC.
Before you take one more step, you're still ignoring a big piece of this puzzle. If you're not aware of all of the ins/outs behind the scenes, you **NEED TO BE**...that is step one of any project. Because at this point your entire new plan could be rendered 100% useless, because it doesn't do xxx/yyy that programs aaa/bbb/ccc need to function, and it won't fit in with monitoring software jjj. Are you then going to rework your entire companies systems to accommodate things???
Quote:
Sorry guys, but I think it's just a misunderstanding at this point. I formulated my opening completely wrong and that's my fault.
No worries, but do you see our point? If you're not formulating a post here (where there's no downside/pressure), how sure are you that you've formulated the plan at your company??

I'm NOT saying the senior admin has all (or even ANY) of the answers; but they are your senior. If they've put this in and have kept it chugging for 14 years, what they DO know is all of the nooks and crannies that this system interacts with, and how. And you're ignoring that enormous source of knowledge. Again, apologize and ask for input/guidance. At worst, they'll refuse and the entire thing comes back on them (not you), and your bosses boss will then deal with it.
 
Old 03-12-2019, 02:06 PM   #12
NadEFurY
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I do see the point. And I'm grateful for the reply on the suggestion on what to do.

The way you come off is quite important and the involvement bit has been lacking indeed on my side. Our core issue, mine*, is that the communication is nonexistent between me and the other admin. There are reasons to this but I have a feeling it's just another case of coincidences or a tough character. It's good that it came out now rather than later, making it even worse.

Shall see how this goes.

Thanks.
 
Old 03-12-2019, 02:13 PM   #13
TB0ne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NadEFurY View Post
I do see the point. And I'm grateful for the reply on the suggestion on what to do.

The way you come off is quite important and the involvement bit has been lacking indeed on my side. Our core issue, mine*, is that the communication is nonexistent between me and the other admin. There are reasons to this but I have a feeling it's just another case of coincidences or a tough character. It's good that it came out now rather than later, making it even worse.

Shall see how this goes.

Thanks.
No worries and good luck. It's good that you are taking a thoughtful approach to things, and it will serve you well later in life.
 
  


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