[Beowulf] Beowulf SysAdmin Job Description

Steve Herborn herborn at usna.edu
Wed Apr 29 14:17:09 PDT 2009

Right now "I" think a lot of what you say is from the perspective of "while
true at the time".  

As HPCC goes mainstream and all the bugs, wrinkles, and bumps in the road
are straightened away we'll begin to see the Scientists who developed (and
were forced to maintain) them move on to more esoteric conundrums that face
them and their research.  I have no idea what the next great break-through
in computing will be, put I highly doubt from a processing perspective it
will be the IT guys who've been forced into standardization, availability
and cost reduction.

Eventually even HPCC will get homogenized and integrated into an
organizations overall greater IT structure as these systems are used more &
more for business purposes.  At that time a plain-old Unix SysAdmin just
might do, be they self-taught or degreed.

People end up working with computers as a primary job for any number of
reasons, but I do not consider that to be necessarily working in IT.

The one thing that does seem to be apparent is not an awful lot of people
have HPCC SysAdmin as a job description.  I suspect most have some other
type of job description and ended up doing HPCC work out of necessity to
fulfill their primary job role.

Or, on the other hand I'm completely out to lunch.  :)

Steven A. Herborn
U.S. Naval Academy
Advanced Research Computing
410-293-6480 (Desk)
757-418-0505 (Cell)

-----Original Message-----
From: beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org [mailto:beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org] On
Behalf Of Prentice Bisbal
Sent: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 1:12 PM
To: Beowulf Mailing List
Subject: Re: [Beowulf] Beowulf SysAdmin Job Description

Steve Herborn wrote:
> The request wasn't so much about finding candidates, or even questions 
> to ask candidates, but to get a "good" idea what should go into an 
> HPCC Administrator's job description over & above just a plain old 
> every day System Admin job.  I don't know about every where else, but 
> our HPCC people do way more then our regular Unix/Windows SysAdmins.

I'm sure you can tell from the posts on this list that most HPCC people have
a much better understanding of the minutiae of how computers operate than
your average sys admin.

Part of that may be because the subscribers here are just more experienced,
but I think the main reason is that HPCC really taxes the hardware much
more, and knowing how to get the most out of the hardware requires knowing
how it works. Evaluating cache design or FPU performance is much more
important when choosing a cluster nodes than web servers or desktops.

Another trend I've noticed in HPC - most cluster admins do not have any
formal education in Computer Science or IT. Most have advanced degree in a
pure science and learned HPC because they needed it to do their research,
whether in college of afterwards, then found that IT pays better. ;). Keep
in mind that's based on my personal experience, not a formal survey. My
degree is in Chemical Engineering, for example.

So if you were writing a job description for a cluster admin, don't make the
mistake of requiring an education in CS/IT.

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