Time to recognise your SysAdmins this System Administrator Appreciation Day

Today is System Administrator (SysAdmin) Appreciation Day – a moment to stop and think about the people who form the backbone of modern business IT. On this day, we spoke to a number of experts to get a better understanding of the current role of the SysAdmin, how this is evolving, and why appreciating your SysAdmins is so important.

The current role of the SysAdmin Neil Barton, CTO, WhereScape “Ensuring your IT data infrastructure is maintained and ready to deliver insights and faster time to value is one of the best things a SysAdmin can do for a business. As business needs drive ever increasingly more frequent changes to data infrastructure, the role of the SysAdmin is proving even more crucial, both in the deployment process, and for keeping systems online and operating correctly. Using automation solutions can help reduce the time, cost and risk of deploying changes to data infrastructure, by getting rid of the near-herculean manual tasks. This will free up SysAdmins to ensure the data infrastructure is delivering results, rather than being trapped in the manual nitty-gritty of deployment tasks.”

Paul Parker, Chief Technologist - Federal and National Government, SolarWinds “SysAdmins can be some of the most under-appreciated employees in any organisation, and yet they are, arguably, some of the most vital. In the NHS in particular, these administrators are crucial for the health service to function efficiently—when lives are on the line, downtime isn’t an option. SysAdmins maintain existing infrastructure, implement new technology, and coordinate these sometimes-contrasting systems. This enables medical staff to concentrate on the patients and the care that they need, without worrying that their technology might not be up to the job.”

Gary Watson, CTO and Founder, Nexsan “[Being a SysAdmin is] no easy job, managing and maintaining the IT infrastructure of an organization and when everything is running without a hitch you usually won’t hear from them. However, when the pressure turns up and users encounter IT challenges SysAdmins are the first point of contact and ready to help. With IT challenges taken care of, SysAdmins enable employees to focus on their own role without needing to worry should any technological glitches occur. So, although flying under the radar is all part of being a SysAdmin it’s still important to acknowledge the work they do and show appreciation for all the SysAdmins out there; they are the reason why IT keeps on ticking.”

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.”

Gijsbert Janssen van Doorn, Technology Evangelist, Zerto “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 investing 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.”

Ron Herrmann, Director of Sales Engineering at E8 Storage “System administrators (SysAdmins) play a fundamental role in supporting and maintaining critical IT business operations and performance. The SysAdmin is behind the scenes working on tasks of all sizes – from IT upgrades to more demanding projects, such as accelerating performance, data consolidation and improving data analytics. This work can often go over looked, but upkeeping the system and network is perhaps one of the most central roles in the IT department. In addition, performance and latency can have a profound impact on an organization’s bottom line, and with SysAdmins keeping the IT infrastructure running smoothly, organizations can deliver on performance when it matters, to drive the bottom line of the business.”

The future role of the SysAdmin Alberta Bosco, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Puppet “SysAdmins in today’s agile businesses are closer to a developer-style of role. In a DevOps environment, they write infrastructure as code and can deploy it using continuous delivery solutions to be agile as developers. SysAdmins often are the ones driving the DevOps change within an organisation. They have always been the core of the IT team and they are now becoming the most revolutionary function, setting a high bar for themselves when it comes to meeting business expectations.”

Steve Armstrong, Regional Director UK, Ireland and South Africa at Bitglass “Cloud adoption is on the rise across the globe as more organisations transition from premises-based tools to secure, flexible, easy-to-use cloud solutions. Because of this widespread migration, the role of the system administrator has changed considerably. 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 of a SysAdmin is evolving, 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.”

Mat Clothier, CEO, CTO and Founder, Cloudhouse “SysAdmins, defined by their distinct ability to configure, troubleshoot and optimise IT infrastructures, can play an important role in an area of IT that is often overlooked - legacy technology. As the problem of outdated IT becomes more and more prevalent in the run up to the upcoming end of life (EOL) of widely-used platforms, SysAdmins are perfectly positioned to support a business in its transition away from unsupported systems and towards newer, on-premise or cloud alternatives. The mobility of applications in an ever-changing IT landscape should be a focal point for any organisation looking to thrive, and the role of the SysAdmin is to help route out and push through this evolution of infrastructure in the ways that make most time and monetary sense.”

The importance of recognising your SysAdmins Alan Conboy - office of the CTO at Scale Computing “SysAdmins are the foot soldiers of the IT team, standing right on the front line and in doing so protect the organization from downtime, server failures, upgrade issues and capacity problems to name but a few. However, when things are going well we don’t always remember to thank the SysAdmins for the work they do and instead more often than not we only recognise when a problem arises. So today, organisations should take the time to appreciate the workplace IT foot soldiers, SysAdmins, and thank them for all the time they spend ensuring we don’t get taken down by IT challenges as and when they arrive.”

Neil Stobart, VP Global Systems Engineering, Cloudian “We all know that getting recognised for our good work is a great motivator to do well, but what isn’t a great motivator is only ever being noticed for the 1% of the time when something goes wrong. SysAdmins not only ensure that the business they work for doesn’t get hit with downtime, they also have to understand all of the new technology that the organisation chooses to adopt, so that they can provide instant support to their colleagues. So next time you get noticed for your great work, remember all of those who made it possible.”

Jon Lucas, Director, Hyve Managed Hosting When it comes to hosting, SysAdmins are central to both our own business and that of our customers. With this in mind, the question shouldn’t be what do they do for our business - it should be what don’t they do! SysAdmins handle all aspects of IT, keeping systems up and running and minimising 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. Consequently, not only should we be taking time on SysAdmin Day to appreciate all of the work they do, we should also be considering how we can continue to nurture future generations to ensure that the job is always a lucrative and rewarding one.“

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