You are previewing Application Administrators Handbook.
O'Reilly logo
Application Administrators Handbook

Book Description

An application administrator installs, updates, optimizes, debugs and otherwise maintains computer applications for an organization. In most cases, these applications have been licensed from a third party, but they may have been developed internally. Examples of application types include enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer resource management (CRM), and point of sale (POS), legal contract management, time tracking, accounts payable/receivable, payroll, SOX compliance tracking, budgeting, forecasting and training. In many cases, the organization is absolutely dependent that these applications be kept running. The importance of application administrators and the level to which organizations depend upon them is easily overlooked.

Application Administrators Handbook provides an overview of every phase of administering an application, from working with the vendor before installation, the installation process itself, importing data into the application, handling upgrades, working with application users to report problems, scheduling backups, automating tasks that need to be done on a repetitive schedule, and finally retiring an application. It provides detailed, hands-on instructions on how to perform many specific tasks that an application administrator must be able to handle.



  • Learn how to install, administer and maintain key software applications throughout the product life cycle
  • Get detailed, hands-on instructions on steps that should be taken before installing or upgrading an application to ensure continuous operation
  • Identify repetitive tasks and find out how they can be automated, thereby saving valuable time
  • Understand the latest on government mandates and regulations, such as privacy, SOX, HIPAA, PCI, and FISMA and how to fully comply

Table of Contents

  1. Cover image
  2. Title page
  3. Table of Contents
  4. Copyright
  5. Dedication
  6. Acknowledgments
  7. Chapter 1. What Does an Application Administrator Do?
    1. Abstract
    2. 1.1 Overview of the Position
    3. 1.2 Qualities of an Application Administrator
    4. 1.3 Where Do Application Administrators Come from?
    5. 1.4 What Jobs Can an Application Administrator Move up to?
    6. 1.5 Examples of Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) Software
    7. 1.6 Dealing with People, Lots of People
    8. 1.7 Questions to Ask If Responsibility for an Application Is Dropped on You
    9. 1.8 Administering Multiple Applications
    10. 1.9 Training Your Replacement or Backup
    11. 1.10 Summary
  8. Chapter 2. Design
    1. Abstract
    2. 2.1 Specifications
    3. 2.2 Interaction with Other Software Packages
    4. 2.3 Capacity Planning
    5. 2.4 Legacy Systems
    6. 2.5 Types of Hosting Models
    7. 2.6 Web Applications vs. Client-Server Applications
    8. 2.7 The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of Your Application
  9. Chapter 3. Architecture
    1. Abstract
    2. 3.1 Application Architecture
    3. 3.2 Through Thick and Thin
    4. 3.3 Tiers
    5. 3.4 Computers, CPUs, and Cores
    6. 3.5 Virtual Servers
    7. 3.6 Fault Tolerant
    8. 3.7 Running Multiple Applications on a Server
    9. 3.8 Virtualized Desktops
    10. 3.9 High Availability/High Performance
    11. 3.10 Operating Systems
    12. 3.11 Windows vs. UNIX vs. Linux
    13. 3.12 Storage
    14. 3.13 What Does Your Server Look Like?
    15. 3.14 Scaling Up
    16. 3.15 Databases
    17. 3.16 Code Base
    18. 3.17 Middleware
  10. Chapter 4. Features Common to Many Applications
    1. Abstract
    2. 4.1 Multiple Modules in an Application
    3. 4.2 Customizations and Configuration Changes
    4. 4.3 Reporting for Users
    5. 4.4 Reporting for Application Administrators
    6. 4.5 E-mail
    7. 4.6 User Preferences
    8. 4.7 Data
    9. 4.8 Feed Me! Getting Large Quantities of Data into or out of Your Application
    10. 4.9 Application Administration Tools
    11. 4.10 Console Administrator Tools for Support Software
    12. 4.11 Log Files
    13. 4.12 Navigation
    14. 4.13 Error Messages
    15. 4.14 Dashboards
    16. 4.15 Limitations
    17. 4.16 Workflow
    18. 4.17 Time Zone Trouble
    19. 4.18 Cookies
  11. Chapter 5. Specifics About Your Application
    1. Abstract
    2. 5.1 Browsers Supported by Your Application
    3. 5.2 Is Your Application Brittle?
    4. 5.3 Does the Application “Play Well” with Others?
    5. 5.4 Integrates well with Other Applications
    6. 5.5 License Keys
    7. 5.6 Troubleshooting Assistance
    8. 5.7 Using the Application in Unexpected Ways
    9. 5.8 Source Code
    10. 5.9 Phoning Home
    11. 5.10 Tracking Down Changes
    12. 5.11 Using Disk Space
  12. Chapter 6. Taking Responsibility for an Application
    1. Abstract
    2. 6.1 Overview of the Application
    3. 6.2 Availability
    4. 6.3 Performance
    5. 6.4 User Base
    6. 6.5 Backups
    7. 6.6 Production Support
    8. 6.7 Hardware
    9. 6.8 Software
    10. 6.9 Database
    11. 6.10 Security
    12. 6.11 Training
    13. 6.12 Disaster Recovery
    14. 6.13 The Vendor
    15. 6.14 Interactions with Other Applications
    16. 6.15 Outputs: Reports
    17. 6.16 Outputs: Logs
    18. 6.17 Changing the Application
    19. 6.18 Monitoring
  13. Chapter 7. Change Control Management
    1. Abstract
    2. 7.1 What Is Change Control Management?
    3. 7.2 Software Configuration Management (SCM) or Change Control Management?
    4. 7.3 Change Control Board
    5. 7.4 Environments
    6. 7.5 When to Move Changes into Production
    7. 7.6 Moving a Change into Production
    8. 7.7 Sarbanes-Oxley or SOX
    9. 7.8 Subverting the Change Control Process
    10. 7.9 Exceptions
    11. 7.10 Testing
    12. 7.11 Application Version Numbers
  14. Chapter 8. Installing Software
    1. Abstract
    2. 8.1 Be the Man, or Woman, with a (Project) Plan
    3. 8.2 How Many Installs have to Be Done?
    4. 8.3 Preparing for the Installation
    5. 8.4 User Acceptance Testing—UAT
    6. 8.5 Test Data
  15. Chapter 9. Support Software
    1. Abstract
    2. 9.1 Support Software on Application Servers
    3. 9.2 Support Software on User Workstations
  16. Chapter 10. Updates and Patches
    1. Abstract
    2. 10.1 What Needs to Be Updated?
    3. 10.2 Types of Upgrades and Patches
    4. 10.3 Who will Be Doing the Updates?
    5. 10.4 How Updates Can Be Distributed
    6. 10.5 Approaching Upgrades
    7. 10.6 Maintenance Weekends, aka Patch Weekends
    8. 10.7 Automatic Updates
    9. 10.8 Testing Software Updates
  17. Chapter 11. Supporting Your Application
    1. Abstract
    2. 11.1 What Is a Support Role?
    3. 11.2 SLA (Service-Level Agreement)
    4. 11.3 Support Staff
    5. 11.4 Odd Hours
    6. 11.5 Maintenance Windows
    7. 11.6 Supporting a 24 × 7 Operation
    8. 11.7 Support Tiers
    9. 11.8 Remotely Accessing Your Servers
    10. 11.9 Who Is Supporting You?
    11. 11.10 Succession Planning
    12. 11.11 Callings Lists for Support Personnel
  18. Chapter 12. Disaster Recovery
    1. Abstract
    2. 12.1 Disaster Recovery Is Not Business Continuity
    3. 12.2 What Constitutes a Disaster?
    4. 12.3 Types of Disasters that Must Be Prepared for
    5. 12.4 Organization-Wide Disaster Recovery Plan
    6. 12.5 DR Plan for Your Application
    7. 12.6 The DR Site
    8. 12.7 Keeping DR up with the Production Site
    9. 12.8 Testing the DR Environment
    10. 12.9 Comparing Production and DR Environments
    11. 12.10 Communications
    12. 12.11 Making the Decision to Activate the DR Site
    13. 12.12 Returning to Your Production Site
  19. Chapter 13. Handling Problems with an Application
    1. Abstract
    2. 13.1 Handling an Outage
    3. 13.2 Contacting the Vendor
    4. 13.3 Preventing or Mitigating an Outage
    5. 13.4 Alerting Users About Problems
    6. 13.5 Is There a Work-Around to Avoid the Problem
    7. 13.6 Should You Gather Details or Immediately Get the System Back up
  20. Chapter 14. Operational Activities
    1. Abstract
    2. 14.1 Daily Tasks
    3. 14.2 Weekly Tasks
    4. 14.3 Monthly Tasks
    5. 14.4 Quarterly Tasks
    6. 14.5 Annual Tasks
    7. 14.6 Tasks That Are Done on Demand
    8. 14.7 Checklists for Repetitive Activities
  21. Chapter 15. Security
    1. Abstract
    2. 15.1 Users Accounts
    3. 15.2 Best Practices for Users Accounts
    4. 15.3 Application Security
    5. 15.4 Servers
    6. 15.5 Firewalls
    7. 15.6 Where Is Your Server Located?
    8. 15.7 Web Browsers
    9. 15.8 Hacking
    10. 15.9 Testing
  22. Chapter 16. The Server
    1. Abstract
    2. 16.1 Differences Between Servers
    3. 16.2 Server Hardware
    4. 16.3 Background Processes
    5. 16.4 What’s Running on Your Server?
    6. 16.5 Environment Variables
    7. 16.6 Path
    8. 16.7 Accounts on the Server
    9. 16.8 Troubleshooting Server Problems
    10. 16.9 Rebooting the Server
  23. Chapter 17. Performance Tuning
    1. Abstract
    2. 17.1 What Tuning Goals Are Desired?
    3. 17.2 Tools to Measure Performance
    4. 17.3 Potential Bottlenecks
    5. 17.4 Maintenance Tasks Can Help Performance
    6. 17.5 Changing the Landscape
  24. Chapter 18. The Network
    1. Abstract
    2. 18.1 LANs, WANs, and Other “AN’s”
    3. 18.2 Addresses
    4. 18.3 Domains
    5. 18.4 DNS—Domain Name System
    6. 18.5 Firewalls
    7. 18.6 DMZ—Demilitarized Zone
    8. 18.7 What’s on Your Network
  25. Chapter 19. Your Organization
    1. Abstract
    2. 19.1 Whom Does the IT Department Report to?
    3. 19.2 Innovation
    4. 19.3 Technology Groups that Support You
    5. 19.4 Does Your Organization have a Data Center?
    6. 19.5 Are There Similar Applications in the Organization?
    7. 19.6 Learn from Other Application Administrators
    8. 19.7 Application Prioritization
    9. 19.8 Change Control
    10. 19.9 Documentation
    11. 19.10 Documentation Location
    12. 19.11 Data Dictionary
    13. 19.12 Chargebacks
    14. 19.13 Impact of Other Applications
    15. 19.14 The Culture of the Organization
  26. Chapter 20. Users
    1. Abstract
    2. 20.1 User Count
    3. 20.2 Tips for Dealing with Users
    4. 20.3 The User’s Viewpoints
    5. 20.4 User Complaints
    6. 20.5 Handling User Requests for Changes
    7. 20.6 User Preferences
    8. 20.7 Training
    9. 20.8 Workflow Processes
    10. 20.9 Remotely Accessing the Application
  27. Chapter 21. Leveraging the Vendor Relationship
    1. Abstract
    2. 21.1 Licensing
    3. 21.2 What Support Does the Vendor Offer?
    4. 21.3 Making the Most of Vendor Contacts
    5. 21.4 Challenges with Vendors
    6. 21.5 Worst Case Scenarios
  28. Chapter 22. The Government Gets Involved
    1. Abstract
    2. 22.1 Multiple Levels of Government
    3. 22.2 Government Agencies
    4. 22.3 Regulations
    5. 22.4 Privacy
    6. 22.5 Protecting Personally Identifiable Information
    7. 22.6 Disclosure After Data Loss Incidents
    8. 22.7 Uncovering Discovery
    9. 22.8 Data Retention Requirements
  29. Chapter 23. Windows Tools
    1. Abstract
    2. 23.1 Windows Tools
    3. 23.2 Using Command Prompt
    4. 23.3 Learning more about the Computer
    5. 23.4 What’s Running on the Computer
    6. 23.5 Starting GUI Tools from a Command Prompt
    7. 23.6 Tools to Work Remotely
    8. 23.7 Tools to Test Connectivity
    9. 23.8 Windows Tips
  30. Chapter 24. UNIX Tools
    1. Abstract
    2. 24.1 Introduction to UNIX
    3. 24.2 Basic UNIX Commands
    4. 24.3 Help at the Command Line
    5. 24.4 Running Jobs
    6. 24.5 Scheduling Jobs
    7. 24.6 Tools to Learn about the Server
    8. 24.7 Basic UNIX Security
    9. 24.8 Text Editors
    10. 24.9 Tuning Tools
    11. 24.10 Connectivity
  31. Chapter 25. Linux Tools
    1. Abstract
    2. 25.1 Introduction to Linux
    3. 25.2 Shells
    4. 25.3 Directory Structure
    5. 25.4 Environment Variables
    6. 25.5 Basic Linux Commands
    7. 25.6 Help at the Command Line
    8. 25.7 Running Jobs
    9. 25.8 Scheduling Jobs
    10. 25.9 Tools to Learn About the Server
    11. 25.10 Basic Linux Security
    12. 25.11 Text Editors
  32. Chapter 26. Tools for Your Toolbox
    1. Abstract
    2. 26.1 Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
    3. 26.2 Examples of Tools
  33. Chapter 27. Third-Party Tools
    1. Abstract
    2. 27.1 Sysinternals Utilities
    3. 27.2 Remote Sessions
    4. 27.3 Session Sharing
    5. 27.4 Moving Files
    6. 27.5 Monitoring Tools
    7. 27.6 Manipulating Files
    8. 27.7 The Screen
    9. 27.8 Browsers
    10. 27.9 Database Access Tools
    11. 27.10 Project Manager Tools
  34. Chapter 28. Troubleshooting Tips
    1. Abstract
    2. 28.1 Overview of Troubleshooting
    3. 28.2 Identify the Problem
    4. 28.3 Gather Information on the Problem
    5. 28.4 Test Possible Solutions
    6. 28.5 Seek Specialized Assistance
    7. 28.6 Document the Problem and the Solution
  35. Chapter 29. Things to Do or Know How to Do in Advance
    1. Abstract
    2. 29.1 Who’s Logged into the Application
    3. 29.2 Terminating User Sessions
    4. 29.3 Preventing User Sessions
    5. 29.4 Bringing Down the System
    6. 29.5 Automate Maintenance Tasks
    7. 29.6 User FAQs
    8. 29.7 Log Files
    9. 29.8 Things to Know About a Server and How to Learn Them
    10. 29.9 Emergency Situations
    11. 29.10 “Read_Me.txt” Files
    12. 29.11 Version Please
    13. 29.12 Performance
    14. 29.13 Application Administrator’s Manual Template
  36. Chapter 30. Things Will Happen That You Don’t Want to Think About
    1. Abstract
    2. 30.1 The Application Hangs Up
    3. 30.2 Server Crashes
    4. 30.3 Database Dilemmas
    5. 30.4 Moving
    6. 30.5 Vendor Changes
    7. 30.6 Consolidation, Mergers, and Acquisitions
    8. 30.7 Adding a New Office, Department, or Division
    9. 30.8 Input and Output Files
    10. 30.9 Running Low on Disk Space
    11. 30.10 Disaster Recovery (DR) Plans
    12. 30.11 Ramping Up and Ramping Down
    13. 30.12 Getting a New Computer
  37. Chapter 31. The End of Days—Decommissioning an Application
    1. Abstract
    2. 31.1 Reasons to Retire an Application
    3. 31.2 Who Has the Final Decision-Making Authority?
    4. 31.3 What about the Data?
    5. 31.4 Steps to Shut Down an Application
    6. 31.5 No Application Is an Island
    7. 31.6 Documentation
    8. 31.7 Security
    9. 31.8 Releasing the Server
    10. 31.9 The Replacement Application
    11. 31.10 User Acceptance Testing of the New Application
    12. 31.11 Parallel Testing Is Even Harder than Parallel Parking!
    13. 31.12 Recommissioning the Application
  38. Chapter 32. Things Every Application Administrator Should Know
    1. Abstract
    2. 32.1 Understand the Application!
    3. 32.2 Files
    4. 32.3 UNIX vs. Windows
    5. 32.4 Command Line Components
    6. 32.5 Pipes and Redirects
    7. 32.6 DOS Commands That Can Save Time and Trouble
    8. 32.7 Testing Basics
    9. 32.8 Basic SQL
    10. 32.9 Advanced Uses of Excel
    11. 32.10 URLs
    12. 32.11 HTML
    13. 32.12 XML
    14. 32.13 WANs, LANs, and VLANs
  39. Chapter 33. Education
    1. Abstract
    2. 33.1 Areas Where Application Administrators Might Need Improvement
    3. 33.2 Opportunities for Education
    4. 33.3 Potential Personal Goals Related to Education
    5. 33.4 Educating the Users
  40. Chapter 34. Parting Advice
    1. Abstract
    2. 34.1 Do No Harm
    3. 34.2 Always Try to Be in the Driver’s Seat
    4. 34.3 Don’t Use the Admin Logon Unless It’s Absolutely Necessary
    5. 34.4 Understand What You’re Doing
    6. 34.5 Do Things the Easy Way
    7. 34.6 The Eyes Have It
    8. 34.7 Document, Document, Document
    9. 34.8 Be Consistent
    10. 34.9 Clean up After Yourself Right Away
    11. 34.10 Always Check Your Junk E-mail Folder
    12. 34.11 Trust but Verify
    13. 34.12 Don’t Run Scheduled Jobs Under Your Account
    14. 34.13 Don’t Try to Hide Your Mistakes
    15. 34.14 Get the Most out of Vendor Technicians
    16. 34.15 Things Always Take Longer than Expected
    17. 34.16 Final Words
  41. Index