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The network administrator is a professional in charge of maintaining a network infrastructure. There are several responsibilities involved in achieving what can be an enormous task. Network administrators may have to install software for several computers in a domain environment, configure permissions to computers and maintain the integrity of many domain servers of a networked system.
There are several tools used by administrators to manage and maintain a computer network system. The heart would have to be the server. Microsoft Windows is now distributing Windows Server 2008. A server computer can be one or several computers linked together. They provide services throughout a network. Servers may have dedicated functions like printing, data base or web server. They may use error detection and correction as well as several hard drives, processors and power supplies to increase their reliability. (Damil 2008) One of the duties of the network administrator is the maintenance of servers in a computer network. Event viewer and system monitor are two of the most popular tools used by network administrators to monitor and troubleshoot server problems. Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and Software Update Services (SUS) are two more tools used to provide administration framework which allows snap-ins to be installed in different configurations for different maintenance tasks. SUS can make the job of a network administrator easier by providing a centralized way to update software to several computers, apply software patches and security updates at the same time. (Dinicolo 2006)
Managing File and Folder Permissions
There are basically two methods of securing resources in a network environment: shared folder permissions and NTFS permissions. When users try to access a resource over a network, they usually use shared folders. NTFS permissions are used both locally and over a network.
These access rights allow permissions to be assigned to individuals or groups on a network in a domain environment. This allows the network administrator to delegate access rights only to users or groups who need them to perform their jobs.
There are several different kinds of permissions that a network administrator can use. Three of the most basic permissions are:
Read permission which allows a user to read a file but they cannot access specific information about the file such as file type, size and ownership.
Write permission which allows a user the ability to modify a file.
Execute permission which grants the users ability to execute a file.(SAS 2009)
With NTFS permissions, special permissions can be assign to users or groups. A more customized unique level of permissions is available with the application of special permissions to files and folders. Examples of special permissions are:
Read attributes: allows the object to see the attributes of a file or folder.
Write attributes: allows the object to change the attributes on an existing file or subfolder within a folder.
Take ownership: enables the object to change the owner of a file or folder to the objects user ownership.
Full control: allows the object to perform all special permissions.
There are several more special permissions. Each one gives the network administrator the ability to customize levels of access to a file or folder.
A network administrator should be familiar with how NTFS permissions are applied, the different standard and special NTFS permissions available and how effective permissions for a particular group or user can be determined. (Chapple 2008)
"Group policy is a feature of Microsoft Windows family of operating systems. Group policy allows for a centralized management and configuration of operating systems, applications and users' settings in an Active Directory environment." (Wiki 2010) What a user can and can not do is partly controlled by group policy. Network administrators must be very familiar with group policy settings in order to configure effective permissions throughout a domain. By incorporating group policy into the Active Directory structure, it would allow the network administrator to easily manage and control different settings and configurations such as desktop settings, desktop and domain security and also deploying and managing the installation of software. Group policies also control the inheritance of files and folders in an Active Directory hierarchy.
When Active Directory is installed, group policy objects are stored in two containers. One is called the Default Domain Policy and the other is Domain Controller Policy.
When a Group Policy Object (GPO) is created, it can then be joined to a site, domain or organizational unit. From these locations, it can easily manage and control different configurations. Information about GPO's are stored in Group Policy Containers (GPC) and include a version number needed by other domain controllers to keep them informed with up-to-date information. The version number also insures that the group policy template is synchronized. If the template is not synchronized, domain controllers are unable to communicate and be updated. (Moskowitz 2008) It is of critical importance that a network administrator be well versed with the operations of group policy in an Active Directory environment.
It is very hard to put a finger on just exactly what a network administrator's job really entails. From assigning IP addresses, troubleshooting, debugging network related problems, routing protocols, authentications, etc. The job encompasses several duties and assignments. Dealing with IT budgets, trouble tickets and finally setting up security, the network administrator's job is no joke and entails a very high degree of responsibility, a steady hand and a cool nature in order to perform in peak character. "It is said that the highest level of a computer techie is a network administrator before they are turned into a pointy haired boss and made into management." (Shelly - Wiki)