From the solemn and sublime to the downright bizarre, the calendar is chock full of national and international days that celebrate, commemorate or draw attention to just about anything. But, for anyone who has ever worked in or with IT, system administrators deserve a day of appreciation and it says a lot that ‘SysAdmin Day’ has been around for 20 years as a way to recognise the valuable – and often under-appreciated – work they do to behind the scenes of every business.
But what do people who live and breathe technology really think? Collecting a cross-section of views from IT professionals gave us eight reasons why SysAdmins should be celebrated:
- SysAdmins offer an important range of key tech talents
Jon Lucas, co-director, Hyve Managed Hosting:
“When it comes to hosting, SysAdmins are not only central to our business, but our customers’ businesses too. So, the question isn’t what they do for our business – but rather, what don’t they do. SysAdmins handle all aspects of IT, keeping systems up and running and mitigating risks of downtime, meaning people in this role are required to have a very broad range of skills and knowledge. Obtaining and nurturing talent of this kind is something we take very seriously, as suitable candidates for the job are often hard to find. Because of this, we should definitely be taking time on SysAdmin Day to appreciate all of the work they do, as well as considering how we can continue to nurture future generations.”
Agata Nowakowska, AVP, Skillsoft:
“There is a huge amount of pressure on SysAdmins to respond quickly and perform under pressure. By its very nature, the position is byzantine with the specific requirements for technical fluency varying greatly from one company to another. SysAdmins need to continually upskill – either on the job or by studying for an official IT certification to keep up with the constant evolution of technology.
“Furthermore, the demand for qualified SysAdmins usually far exceeds supply, making it highly beneficial to the company to ensure their SysAdmin feels appreciated. So show them you care and thank your SysAdmin this Friday.”
- SysAdmins are central to the delivery and maintenance of IT infrastructure
Steve Armstrong, Regional Director, UK and Ireland, Bitglass:
“Cloud adoption continues to rise as more organisations moving away from premises-based tools to secure, flexible, easy-to-use cloud solutions. This shift is also impacting the role of the system administrator. Today’s SysAdmins are often focused on configuring, monitoring and managing organisations’ cloud infrastructure far more often than patching and administrating on-premises applications. As the role SysAdmin evolves, the best in the field are like human Swiss Army Knives, equipped with every skill needed to keep systems up and running while ensuring that all services are secure and properly configured.”
Neil Barton, CTO, WhereScape:
“System administrators have a variety of different responsibilities but ensuring a businesses’ IT data infrastructure is maintained and ready to deliver insights and faster time to value is one of the most important. The role of the SysAdmin is proving even more crucial as business needs drive ever increasingly more frequent changes to data infrastructure, particularly in the deployment process and for keeping systems online and operating. Because of this, as a business, you don’t want your SysAdmin bogged down trying to prevent roadblocks. Automation solutions can help your SysAdmins by reducing the time, cost and risk of deploying changes to data infrastructure by eliminating manual tasks. SysAdmins can then ensure the data infrastructure is delivering results.”
Brett Cheloff, VP, ConnectWise Automate:
“SysAdmins spend a lot of time putting out fires. Whatever the issue, taking a reactive approach to problems is far less efficient than working proactively. Indeed, a proactive approach to solving internal or client-based infrastructure issues is far superior, allowing you to fix IT systems before they develop into serious problems.
“From managing security and ticket flow to conducting routine maintenance and proactive network monitoring, SysAdmins require expert efficiency to stay at the top of their game. Yet common pitfalls create time traps and extra work, and even the most seasoned technicians struggle to stay on top of everything a modern IT infrastructure requires.
“The right software can help make this process that much easier. This will give you valuable insight into workflow and efficiency. Second, search for software that facilitates system response monitoring. This will help improve overall response time, so you’ll spend less time putting fires out. The right product and processes in place means you’ll gain a firmer grip on proactive operations — and be more prepared to tackle reactive situations.”
- SysAdmins are key to the success of organisations across the economy
Sascha Giese, Head Geek, SolarWinds:
“SysAdmins play a pivotal role in public sector organisations, sustaining the background activities that keep the UK’s public services up and running. Whether it’s life-saving technology in hospitals, confidential data held by the government, or official-sensitive information for the department of defence, SysAdmins are constantly working to ensure IT quality and functionality in these organisations are upheld. Undertaken against an evolving IT landscape, it’s important for IT leaders to prioritise training and tools to increase efficiency and enable SysAdmin teams to focus on delivering the vital systems they organise, install, and support. Because we know: it isn’t always the network.”
- SysAdmins enable businesses to manage legacy technology
Hubert Da Costa, Senior Vice President and GM, EMEA and APAC, Cybera:
“As the people charged with maintaining network security and uptime, SysAdmins also have to balance increasing demand for bandwidth with (often) very lean budgets. If you think about costs associated with managing legacy WAN technology, for example, it’s enough to make your eyes water! And then if you layer on the rapid adoption of cloud IT and the significant number of applications being deployed within a business, you’ll appreciate that today’s SysAdmin has a really tough job on his – or her – hands. The good news is that technology is available to help alleviate a big chunk of the pain associated with both the performance and budget aspects of their job. A great example is modern, software-based networking which can reduce the deployment and operational complexity associated with traditional solutions. That said, although technology can go a long way to helping SysAdmins do their job, there’s one thing it can’t always solve – the unpredictability of users! But that’s another story….”
- SysAdmins are great in a crisis
Alan Conboy, office of the CTO, Scale Computing:
“Consistent, reliable and responsive, system administrators are the backbone of our industry. Without them, we would be more susceptible to a number of issues, such as server failures, downtime and problems with upgrades and capacity. It’s great to have a day recognising all their hard work and we should definitely carry out that praise the other 364 days of the year. Even in the midst of a crisis, SysAdmins maintain the team’s momentum to overcome IT challenges, with a plan of attack for the next time. Today is a good reminder for organisations to provide their SysAdmins with the tools, resources and words of encouragement they deserve to continue supporting our IT infrastructures.”
- In an era of cloud and managed services, SysAdmins bring teams together
Gregg Mearing, Head of Managed Services, Node4:
“SysAdmins fulfil a vital role that is growing in importance. For many organisations, the impact of cloud and the increasing investment in managed services means IT teams in general need to work more effectively with external providers on a regular basis. For these organisations, SysAdmins are really important experts in the delivery of an effective cloud-based IT strategy. From the Managed Service Provider point of view, SysAdmins often become part of a wider co-operative team – their intimate knowledge of their company and its IT infrastructure remains as important as ever.”
- SysAdmins are the gatekeepers of IT resilience
Gijsbert Janssen van Doorn, Technology Evangelist, Zerto:
“The SysAdmin is directly responsible for the uptime, performance, and security of the systems they manage that the business depends on. It’s no mean feat, but the best thing a SysAdmin can do for your business is keep you online – and prevent outages. In some ways, they are the gatekeepers of IT resilience, so it’s important to recognise the role they play.
“It’s a tough job and most systems administrators are all too familiar with the middle-of-the-night call to come in and fix things when the systems mysteriously go down. Organisations looking to support their SysAdmins should ensure that they are spending enough on resilient infrastructure – across backup, disaster recovery and cloud mobility. This will allow your SysAdmins to focus on building and managing systems for always-on and agile services, rather than constantly fighting to get the systems back online.”
- SysAdmins are the detectives of IT security
Stephen Gailey, Head of Solutions Architecture, Exabeam:
“No challenge is higher up the enterprise IT agenda than security. The IT Pros, such as SysAdmins, tasked with ensuring security in a modern enterprise require a Sherlock Holmes-esque persona – sifting through a slew of false positives and negatives that are part and parcel of the modern security environment.
“Thousands of logs are created every day, and some are much more dangerous than others. To the untrained eye, each individual log may seem fine. As the Consulting Detective once said, there is a clear distinction between seeing and observing. It’s only when all of this activity is linked together that the real picture begins to emerge.
“It takes a truly skilled eye and the latest technology to detect a real threat as it forms amidst the clouds of uncertainty. IT pros know there are hundreds of adversaries out there, but with so many distractions, spotting the real threats takes skill: ‘The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance observes’.”