Systems People

Ernest Retzel 1535 49118 ernest at lenti.med.umn.edu
Fri Jun 19 09:47:52 EST 1992


With respect to the systems discussion, I agree with Reinhard, Dave and Bruce. 
You will be far better served to be looking for systems people than by 
trying to manage a system yourself.  What you get when you look for someone 
with a Computer Science background is expertise and a skill level that is 
extremely hard to find or develop.  Trying to do it yourself would be like 
trying to create a molecular biologist out of an English Lit background: it 
can be done, but...

For those facilities trying to grow, I would suggest looking in your computer
science department for systems people who want to run their own show.  Usually
there is a Systems Group made up primarily of undergrads who basically serve an
apprenticeship under a Unix Wizard; frequently, there is one of them who would
rather be on their own than taking orders, and if you can deal with that type
of personality, it can be a good solution.

Unless you have money for an extraordinary startup core facility, you usually 
don't need a full time systems person; as you grow, you will *know* when it 
is time for one.  Here, there are >30 workstations in four buildings with 
nearly that many disks, with all filesystems mounted on all workstations; 
that number is increasing rapidly.  There are 3 OS's [Sun, SGI, NeXT], spread 
over in four buildings; a smattering of X-terminals, all from different 
manufacturers, and things getting served from everywhere, including 
bi-directionally with the Supercomputer Center.  The Macs and PC underneath, 
we don't even count.

This is not an environment that is easily managed.

What you do get with a systems person like that is knowing what is current.
The language of choice these days is C++; the windowing system beyond X is
InterViews.  They also do not come cheap, nor should you expect them to.  There
is just a different payscale for BS degrees in CSci with all the industry
growth.

Ernie Retzel
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN

ernest at lenti.med.umn.edu




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