A network systems administrator is responsible for maintaining/configuring a computer network. This can range from settings up new user accounts to exchanging servers in a rack. The network systems administrator makes sure that a network is running at peak performance 100% of the time, and exceeds user demand. To exceed user demand an administrator may have to install and or upgrade hardware/software, troubleshoot problems that may emerge when installing new hardware/software, provide technical support for staff, and train staff to use new hardware/software.Ever since around 2014 I’ve wanted to become a network systems administrator. It all started when my dad had given me my first server, it had an Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 clocked at 2.93GHz and 4 gigabytes of DDR2 memory running at 667MHz. I started out running a Minecraft server for me and a few friends and after that, it just started to grow. I don’t quite remember how I branched out from just running Minecraft servers but eventually, I ran my own FTP (file transfer protocol) server, with this, you can upload and download files between a client and the server. Then I started to host VOIP (voice over IP) servers for guilds/clans. Eventually, I had to stop due to my internet connection being too slow. Shortly after though Google Fiber was offering plans in the Kansas City area. We had gotten the best plan they offered, 1 gigabit per second upload and download, after that my interest in server hosting peaked. I started hosting everything from game servers to websites.My first upgrade came when my dad had bought three Dell PowerEdge 1950 generation III’s in 2015, they each had 32 gigabytes of DDR2 ECC (error-correcting code) memory running at 667MHz, and two Intel Xeon X5470 quad-core CPUs running at 3.33GHz. Not too long after I was introduced to the world of Linux. Linux is an open-source operating system, it was released on September 17, 1991. Linux has many different ‘flavors’ or distributions; Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, Arch Linux. The list goes on and on, there are literally thousands of different flavors of Linux. I started running Ubuntu server. I soon realized how difficult Linux really was since it was just a terminal so I switched to Windows Server 2012 R2 to educate myself more on the subject. I figured out to truly learn how to use Linux I had to run the operating system in a virtual machine. A virtual machine is a computer running inside of the host machine, this isolates Linux from Windows so I’m not locked down to one operating system. Obviously, the virtual machine will use resources like memory and CPU power from the host system. Eventually, I was running so many virtual machines that I was on my servers max. I had websites, mail services, VOIP, game servers, and FTP all running on one machine. I felt that it was extremely efficient, I wanted to virtualize everything but I was in the capacity of my server. I had to get an upgrade.For Christmas in 2016, I had gotten the upgrade that I needed. I had gotten a Dell PowerEdge R710 configured with 288 gigabytes of DDR3 ECC memory running at 1333MHz and two Intel Core Xeon x5650 hexacore processors running at 2.67GHz. This gave me 12 cores and 24 logical processors in total. I had tons of room for expansion, and I still do. I haven’t even scratched the surface with this server yet. I was again hosting everything I could imagine. I was doing more experimenting than ever before, mostly with different Linux distributions, different network configurations with my storage server that I had. I was learning a lot.In the spring of 2017, I started to experiment more and more with the hardware side of things. For example, I would start to configure my network switches so I could have the fastest data transfer speed to my storage server. Every time I would go to my ‘datacenter’ I would always find something to do. Whether it was plugging in another ethernet cable, or exchanging out processors in servers for faster ones, I was doing a little bit of everything at that point in time. Towards the summer of 2017, I was beginning to invest all of my time into cybersecurity. I had seen a video on youtube that covered building your own router. Shortly after I had my mind set that I was going to build the best firewall that I could, I wanted to get it to secure that it would block DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks. These are attacks that get performed on a network to deny the client and or users service. I had gotten attacked before when I had refused to host for an individual so he had essentially taken out my internet. I didn’t want this to happen again in the future so I really wanted to make my router the best. I started doing research on the operating system and realized that it was a FreeBSD based operating system. FreeBSD is like Linux but it isn’t if that makes sense. It is still terminal only but there are just a few commands that vary from one to the other. The easiest part of building my own router came when I was picking the hardware. Of course, I chose my second server, the Dell PowerEdge 1950, it was perfect for an overkill router, with the two processors and 32 gigabytes of memory. When it came to installing the actual software that was the challenging part. Let’s just say there were many hours put into browsing forums on how to configure the router to work with the google fiber service. Eventually, with lots and lots of troubleshooting, I finally got it working. Finally my very own router. Here I could configure whatever I wanted, there were no limits. Soon after doing research on firewall plugins I stumbled upon one called Snort from Cisco. Cisco, as you know, is a company that manufactures networking hardware and software. Cisco is the enterprise standard for networking equipment. There were so many options for configuring the firewall. It took me about a month to finally get it configured how I wanted it. I had the firewall setup to where it would block any requests coming in at a certain size and time in between requests. I’ve tested it with multiple attacks and it works, it blocks all of the bad requests.Everything was perfect, all of my servers were running optimally, my firewall/router was perfect but I had gotten an unexpected upgrade. For my birthday I had gotten three Dell PowerEdge R910s equipped with quad Intel Xeon X7560 octa-core processors, and 512 gigabytes of DDR3 ECC memory. I was in complete awe when I saw the specifications. Until then I have never seen a server with that amount of memory and processing cores.