5 minutes with . . . Rodney Marman, Senior network administrator, NSW Attorney General's Department

Computerworld: Did you always envisage that you would have a career in the IT industry?

Rodney Marman: After finishing school in South Africa, IT was the last career on my mind, I had a holiday for about six months then went into the hospitality industry for a year. I soon left that because of the long 12-hour shifts.

Finally I gained an apprenticeship with Honda as a motorcycle mechanic but soon got sick of smelling petrol and oil.

After another short break I landed a job with ICL South Africa as a computer service technician. I then moved to Australia where initially I continued as a service technician.

CW: How did your career in IT begin?

RM: I worked for a while in Australia as a field technician, then the opportunity arose for me to do my CNE. Once I had completed it I got into networking really seriously.

CW: What duties does your current position involve?

RM: I maintain a NetWare 4.11 environment which I designed and built with about 120 file servers and about 3000 users for the NSW Attorney General's Department. Day-to -day duties include daily maintenance of user accounts, such as creations, deletions and transfers, and constant updates of service packs for NetWare, virus signature updates and all other problems that occur during the day.

CW: What is your favourite IT gadget?

RM: I am not really into all the latest IT gadgets but if I have to choose I'd probably say the famous Palm Pilot.

CW: How do you think mainstream Australia perceives IT professionals?

RM: As more and more Australians are purchasing personal computers and subsequently going online, I believe IT professionals are being viewed in the same light as anyone else who works for a living. Almost everyone knows a ‘professional' whom they turn to in times of need for their own PCs. This has helped break down the ‘unknown factor' that many people had, not really knowing what IT was all about.

The majority of Australians now see IT specialists as necessary staff just like human resources and accounting.

CW: What would be your second choice of career if not IT?

RM: I'd probably go back to motorcycles. I would have my own motorcycle shop. As you can guess by now I love my toys so I reckon it would be good to have a constant supply of the latest models that come out each year.

CW: How secure do you think your network is against denial of service attacks?

RM: Well, there are no practical methods to prevent denial of service attacks, but there are ways to lessen the blow.

Increase the bandwidth of the service, like planning for far more traffic than would be expected, thus making it difficult to overload the service.

Identify points of failure in the service and build in backup servers. If the attacker manages to redirect the attack to the new systems it will increase the risk of getting caught. Having the redundancy also makes it harder to sustain the attack.

CW: List your top three likes and dislikes of your job.

RM: Opportunity to work with new technology, meeting new people all the time, salary is favourable compared to most other careers.

Okay, three dislikes: where do I start? Bad management decisions in any organisation always ranks as number one.

Not getting recognition for the work, time and effort that is put in by me and the whole team.

Being a contractor, sometimes you are not very popular with permanent staff members for various reasons.

CW: Is there any part of the IT industry you would like to learn more about?

RM: I suppose there is always new technology raising its head and you never know it all. I like designing Web pages as a hobby but have never taken it seriously. The next progressive step would be project management which I should enjoy coming from a technical background, but I am quite happy where I am in my career.

CW: What are your career goals for the future and what do you hope to be doing in the next five years?

RM: To be quite honest I hope to be retired in the next five years. I should have made enough money and secure investments by then to live quite comfortably.

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