6 reflections the key role that systems administrators play
System Administrator Appreciation Day may be one of those offbeat recognition days that pops up out of the blue each year, but it’s also an important date for businesses to acknowledge. The date, July 27, provides the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to the valuable men and women who, come rain or shine, keep IT secure, prevent disasters and put out tech fires. The role of the SysAdmin is impossible to live without, but often easily overlooked. With this in mind, IM asked several industry experts for their views on why SysAdmins remain so important, and how the role is changing for modern organizations.
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Unsung heroes
“There are many roles in the workplace that can often fall under the radar, and a role that is specifically prone to this is system administrators. SysAdmins, though, 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. In doing so, not only does it mean that the organization can continue without being interrupted by an IT meltdown, it also means that other employees don’t need to worry about the IT infrastructure at all. 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, organizations 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."

- Alan Conboy, office of the CTO at Scale Computing
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Backbone of the IT environment
"In the same way electricity powers a grid without being seen, SysAdmins underpin the smooth running of an organization's IT environment - they're the 'invisible' but crucial backbone of IT. It’s 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."

- Gary Watson, chief technology officer and founder at Nexsan
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Watcher of all
"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 recognize 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. Organizations 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."

- Gijsbert Janssen van Doorn, technology evangelist at Zerto
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Making magic behind the scenes
“Keeping pace with constant technology changes and updates is hard enough, but IT staff, specifically system administrators (SysAdmins) are increasingly expected to keep network strategies on track as well. From migrating your IT infrastructure to a new environment to implementing a comprehensive IT resilience strategy, SysAdmins are behind the scenes, ensuring that networks are secure, up-to-date and efficient. On SysAdmin Day, it’s important to take a moment to thank SysAdmins for their hard work, dedication and commitment to keeping the infrastructure powering businesses running smoothly.”

- Derrin Rummelt, director of cloud engineering at US Signal
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Performing a central role in IT
“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 overlooked, 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.”

- Ron Herrmann, director of sales engineering at E8 Storage
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Helping organizations turn data into decisions
“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. With that in mind, as a business, you don’t want them to be bogged down trying to prevent roadblocks. 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.”

– Neil Barton, chief technology officer at WhereScape