Monday, September 21, 2009

How Many Admins Does it Take..

To manage a Lotus infrastructure?
Let's look into this a little deeper.

Domino, Notes clients, Sametime, Quickr, Connections, WAS even Domino.Doc wait everyday to cause admins around the world to stay busy...or do they?

What if your admins were really doing pc support most of their time, not server support.

Modern times bring modern problems, items you never imagined years ago, like Java versions, Browser types AND versions, languages, LDAP directories, DNS, Routers and so many other pieces just happen to be involved and knock off Frank in Accounting.

But let's get back to the numbers. How many admins does your organization really need?

I used to use a rule of thumb that one admin per 3-5,000 people. However, that number seems to have been raised now to 5-10,000 per admin depending on the organization and structure(read politics).

A few answers on Twitter provided what I presume usually, good admins can manage up to 15-20,000 users in many cases because they built their network solid to start and thus require less time involved focused on problems.

Now admins come in many flavors:

1) Level 1 (IBM's name for it is Rhythm) - Sometimes a help desk staff member, sometimes an ID reset/creator/password person.

2) Level 2 (IBM's name for it is Blues) - Detailed issues related to users with problems not easily solved by basic support and this is a broad lake filled with people.

3) Level 3 (IBM's name for it is Jazz) - The person who sits in his little room/cube and no one knows what he does except the level 2 team because they can the level 3 person in when they can't do it. Or it is a server/OS issue or failure.

4) Level 4 - Guru, not necessarily technical, but able to grok the environment and provide direction and just "fix it" when no one else will or wants to do so.

So how many do you need in an organization is a variable that each comes up with.

MUST you have multiple levels? No.
Should you hire good admins to start with, always.

If you can't afford good admins, please spend the money wisely on the senior person and make sure they are senior but also like and want to train others or mentor them, otherwise you are wasting your money.

So how many level 3/4 people do you need? How many 1/2? Just depends how you manage your infrastructure.

Too few and servers stop getting updated and you start seeing problems in the environment. Too many and you should be pushing some new products and business ideas.

So where do you fall in this spectrum?

I post this because as we look into an RFP for 100K+ users trying to figure out how many admins we would need to staff to manage it. So any input is always welcome.


  1. I would add that you should consider how active the environment is. You'll need more admins for a even a small business if you have a lot of employee turnover, constantly experimenting with new (Domino) technologies, and with busy cowboy developers who take down the server with each new agent. OTOH, you can have a large environment, but very little turnover or changes to that environment, and you might only need one admin who also does other things.

  2. Maria,
    Thanks for your input. I don't give my developers rights on my production servers. I provide them demo boxes for playing.
    Any old pc will do for these.
    Or Amazon has servers for 10 cents an hour! Go do it there.
    But in general your time is only as good as you planned it from the start.
    Reading a book about this which I will post about soon as well.

  3. We are down to 1 admin/1 dev for 1500 users. Likely will go down to 1 covering both roles
    Environment is:
    AIX:1 app, 1 hub, 1 mail, 1 qkr
    Windows: 1 sametime
    Repeat the AIX env twice for dev and preprod environments.
    Other domino addons: IQ.Suite, Domdoc, Rightfax

    On top of that, we have 1-2 guys dealing with BES and berries. I stay away from this type of support....execs are too finicky!

    We also have a 24/7 helpdesk with at least 2 people on the phone at any time, peak time can have up to 4-5 people. They deal with 70% of notes issues. 2nd level does 25%, and 3rd level does 5%

    A lot of admin time can be saved by having automated user creation/deletion. We use tivoli identity manager for this. It also synch's up passwords. I personally do no nothing when a new employee is created, nor when they leave

  4. Patpicos,
    You bring up a good point, automation is key, but in small orgs, it's not always practical (Tivoli is a bit expensive).
    Dev/stage usually require less maintenance(except in crunch deadline times) but do tend to crash more because of hokey code.
    But I agree front line support can be taught to handle most issues leaving true admins available for more important work.
    Let me know if I can help you move the Domino.Doc data for you sometime. :-)

  5. I have been in Remote Infrastructure support from India and mainly in Lotus Notes / Domino Support. Based on my experience I can say that 5-10K per admin would be ok for L1/L2 admins but for L3 you have to look after how many servers to support, clusters, different geographic locations, different working shifts etc. For L4 admin you need to look after how many kind of technologies (domino, sametime, Ldap etc.) to support. How many new project coming up your way.
    Frankly I dont think that we should be considering L1/L2 counts for domino supports, L1 needs to be joined with helpdesk/service desk and L2 should be your remote desktop support which takes care of all kind of technical issues at user's desktop.
    In Lotus Domino team we should have L2+ (escalated tickets) the admin who will work on users tickets which require server work, then L3 for server fixing/configuring.
    Thats too much now for 100K+ users i assume servers would be around 150 -- 200 at least (purely based on my experience of serving 2 100K+ customer, 1 35K+ customer, and 2 small 5K+ customer). believe me the number of pure L3/L4 is almost same in all of them.
    Bottom line for 100K+ we need following for 24 X 7:
    1.) L2+ --> 12-15
    2.) L3 --> 5-7 would be good number
    4.) L4 --> 4-5 in my openion

  6. Oops, I missed following,
    5.) L5 --> for any accounts having 15-20K+ users there has to be a L5, God, Massiha, Jesus whatever you call him, a deadly combo of notes development, administration, processes etc. A Central Architect.

  7. Bhavesh,
    Thank you so much for your input it is well appreciated and interesting.
    There are few God's out there, but I know some.