It’s Systems Administrators month! For those that don’t know, System Administrators appreciation day is celebrated every last Friday of July.
System Administrators are awesome – they have some kind of magic hands.
To appreciate and recognize their hard work and dedication, here is a little about them and what is it that makes them awesome and succeed in the workplace.
In a nutshell, a network is a collection of computers, servers, routers, switches, and other devices connected together to share information, data, application programs, and resources such as printers, storage disk, databases, and the most shared resource – the internet. It allows business employees to collaborate, access and share data efficiently which is why they are one of the most essential roles in any organization.
As such, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why system administrators are awesome:
1. They’re Resilient
Systems administrators are responsible for maintaining computer hardware and software that make up the network.
Systems maintenance covers a wide variety of equipment and activities – defragging hard drives, upgrading old hardware, installing new hardware, upgrading hardware firmware or application software, replacing UPS batteries, upgrading wiring to the latest standard, or tidying spaghetti cables in the patch panels.
They perform most maintenance work at night and at weekends to minimize disruption to users and business. When a server goes down on a Sunday evening, the system administrator receives an alert, drops what he/she is doing, and goes to work to address the problem.
Systems administration is not a 9 to 5 job, and as such, the system administrator needs to be as flexible and resilient as they can be.
2. Not for the Faint of Heart
Systems and Network administration is not for the faint of heart. Unexpected events can happen anytime – usually and surprisingly at the most unexpected time.
A malware attack or power failure can cause systems to go down and possibly corrupt data and system files. On occasion, systems administrators can be slammed with multiple incidents at the same time and some of those issues can be intermittent or stem from an unknown cause.
To make matters worse, the internet has spoiled us with impatience – no one wants to wait more than a few seconds for a webpage to load.
Employees see their networks as an integral part to the function of a business, hence users and management demand that networks and data be restored in an instant. You’ll have to be prepared for a barrage of staff yelling “we want our systems back right now!” and be able to respond accordingly.
Technology can be complex and systems issues can’t be fixed in the blink of an eye. Putting out fires and restoring a network, servers and data sometimes require long hours in the trench, a calm heart and a cool head.
3. They’re Social
Most think that systems or network administrators are the stereotypical geeks that sit and work in the computer room not having to worry about dealing with people.
While systems and network administrators can work independently, they also build and maintain systems in concert with the organization’s needs and users’ expectations. The administrators interact with users on a daily basis and may work in a team to identify the business needs and propose project plans to solve problems.
“System administration is a customer facing job. A lot of times they’ll be dealing with a variety of clients – users, management, CEO and executive staff.”
They’ll be working with various teams to build projects or support business initiatives while dealing with third party vendors and service providers. In large organizations, they’ll also be working constantly with systems analysts, developers, technicians, programmers, and engineers.
That said, a significant part of the systems administrators job is highly social in nature. No hiding behind desks as they’ll need to have good social skills in order to succeed.
They can have a ton of technical knowledge but without proper social skill, it’ll be a difficult journey growing within a company. At the end of the day, systems administrators have to be just as good at dealing with people as they are with systems.
4. They Never Find Dull Moments
There’s a fair amount of variety in systems and network administration work. It’s a 50% desk job and a 60% on-the-go type of job.
I realize that doesn’t add up but that’s the point – systems and network administration can defy logic with its varied tasks!
If they’re not at their desk documenting the network, managing and configuring equipment, creating network policies or reviewing intrusion prevention system (IPS) logs – they could be at the user’s desk getting their hands dirty by fixing his/her computer or replacing a network card. You may even come across them as they patch cables or install dual monitors the minute you come into work.
On the other hand, they could be at a remote branch office setting up redundant switches and connection for spanning tree protocol (STP). They could be doing disaster recovery in a server that’s running amok, restoring from backups, patching vulnerabilities, and training users about information security.
If everything is running properly and smoothly (which is a big if) – they could be doing research and keep up with the latest technologies, tinker and build new gears or beta test new software utilities. Systems and networks administrators are continuously learning something new to adapt to rising challenges and build a system infrastructure that automatically detects possible failures. In essence, this allows servers to implement a recovery mechanism and prevent network downtime.
There’s an abundance of work that goes into keeping the network up and running. A system administrator will never find dull moments, only different levels of excitement each day.
5. They Find it Gratifying to Help Others
Systems and network administrators are responsible for the upkeep and day-to-day operation of the networks.
They play a big role in the success of the business. They ensure employees remain productive and get their job done by keeping printers running, ensuring that web servers are backed up and that computers are protected from malware. They also ensure that applications are up to date, keep the internet connection stable, and address problems before anyone notices that something is amiss.
The system administrator performs a lot of tireless work from behind the scenes and often gets caught with tasks that can only be completed after normal business hours or on weekends. Their work for keeping the network secure and systems up and running nearly always goes unnoticed and unappreciated (except someone like me of course).
I believe most of us have run into one or two situations where we just can’t figure out the problem in our computer system. We have done every logical step we can think of to fix the problem, but the problem still persists. However, once the system administrator steps in, the problem seems to corrects itself and I can’t help but be amazed.
For many businesses, being “online” or connected can mean the difference between success and failure. Under the hood of each well-managed network is one or more system administrators (aka network administrators) who are analytical and strong in troubleshooting, hard working and hands-on individuals.
According to Robert Half Technology (RHT):
“Systems and networks are the backbones of any company“.
They are masters who know their way around computers, stacks of servers, routers, and switches, firewalls, operating systems and myriad of protocols. Their technical knowledge and skills provide them with the base and the confidence to be an expert.
While system administration can sometimes be a tough job, systems administrators love seeking challenges and find satisfaction every time they solve problems and know their efforts make others work easier. In fact, if not for the system administrator maintaining the network and internet connection you may not have been able to read this blog in the first place.
As such, now that you know how awesome system administrators are – the next time you see yours, be sure to give him/her a pat on the back!
All images used belong to their respective copyright holders.
Harness The Power of System Administration
If you’re interested in beginning a career in network administration, Brighton College offers specialized courses and hands-on training to land you a job as soon as you graduate.
Join a free information session by registering online or call 604-430-5608 for more details.
About the Author
Ricky Del Mundo is an instructor at Brighton College teaching Information Technology courses specializing in network administration. When he is not teaching he loves gardening, biking, tennis, and fishing.
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