2wanda has said before (and i admit that she, as my wife, might be biased) that she thinks that computer systems administrators should unionize because we're the tech workers who are most often abused by companies. I have mixed feelings about unions, but there's little doubt that the industry takes us for granted far too often. And yet, in all of my career, i have never encountered a situation so dire as in my current place of employ. If they'd offered me a full-time position, i would have turned it down and fled screaming; however, the contract lets me stick to fulfilling tasks instead of worrying about my future with the company, or the company's future.
Right now, IT ("Ops" is reserved for another part of the company that fulfills a different role) is composed of the Director, who is a senior sysadmin with a managerial title, and one junior sysadmin. Normally, that's a bit light for a small startup, but not egregious. The guy they hired before me absconded with a new Mac laptop and an iPhone after four days there. The guy they hired before that lasted two weeks before they realized that he was a complete charlatan (he was hired over the Director's objection, too). The guy who was the boss when the current Director was hired was such an idiot that he recompiled the kernel on the phone system server in the middle of the afternoon, rebooted it, and when it failed to come up, took a few half-hearted stabs at fixing it before leaving for an appointment, leaving the phones down until the next day. This was normal for him, i was told; he was too often worse than no help at all.
Aside from the personnel problems, the infrastructure is a complete cockup. A few examples: the whole office is on a /24 (a network segment with 256 IP addresses) that has been out of available addresses for months, predictably yielding IP conflicts; the Ops team works in an office that is restricted to people with an Ops keycard for security reasons, but their network is fully reachable from anywhere in the company; the office has both wired and wireless pipes to the Internet, but they are not set up for failover, nor are services such as VPN set up to use either one; production has been running on network equipment that dates from the Clinton administration, and development is running on servers from a manufacturer that stopped making hardware in 2001; the source control repository that contains the code for the company's applications has not been backed up in months.
The CEO introduced herself to me on Wednesday, and told me, "I'm glad you're here. We really need you. As a SaaS company, infrastructure is really important to us." You know what, lady? You don't really believe that. If you did, you wouldn't keep hiring morons, you wouldn't be running your company on spit and baling wire, and you wouldn't be telling your Director of IT that you can't afford to hire the people he needs to keep your fucking company from imploding.
I cannot fathom why so many Internet technology companies run their business on a suboptimal infrastructure that is always the result of an abject failure of prioritization. They get the best possible developers because they want a top-notch product, they get the best possible sales and marketing because they want to have as many customers as possible, but when it comes to building the base on which everything runs, well, the founders just slapped together some whitebox PCs from Fry's, and the product's been running on that just fine, so why change it? It's this and eleven billion other idiotic excuses that come from people who Don't Fucking Understand how to build an infrastructure and are, somehow, Utterly Incapable of hiring someone who does.
Why? It can't be that we're scary; yes, it's easy to lean on the "sysadmins and netadmins are all disturbed or disturbing" stereotype, but you know what, every FUCKING job req out there demands "excellent writing and speaking skills", and people get hired, so maybe we're not nearly as bestial as people think. In the end, i think it's simply a complete lack of respect for what we do; we're almost never given the resources that we need to do the job right, and when the resource starvation produces less than stellar results, the blame always comes quickly at us. We need advocacy. I don't get the impression that SAGE has any idea or interest in it, but they damn well should. Maybe i'll go yell at them for a while. Yelling at people is always an effective communication tool.