System administrators work on the front line, protecting organisations from server failures, upgrading issues and downtime. During the Covid-19 pandemic, they have faced the additional challenges of managing IT infrastructure and databases remotely.
However, despite their around the clock service, they often go unnoticed by the rest of the organisation – only called upon when something goes wrong. If your organisation truly wants to embrace a culture of belonging, it’s time to celebrate their worth.
This SysAdmin Day, seven IT experts share their thoughts on how and why we should acknowledge and thank System Administrators for their hard work and dedication.
Take notice of SysAdmins all year round
The rationale behind SysAdmin Day is as true today as it was when Ted Kekatos set it up 21 years ago.
“The simple fact is that most users don’t think about IT until something goes wrong,” says Raif Mehmet, vice-president EMEA at Bitglass.
“As more companies move their IT to the cloud, the role of the SysAdmin has become ever more complex as companies now need to manage comprehensive cloud security platforms too. And as more of us are now working remotely using personal devices, the probability that something will go wrong is multiplied by several factors.”
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“Think about it – if something doesn’t work, or if something goes wrong, it’s their ‘fault’ and they’re expected to fix it,” observes Krishna Subramanian, COO at Komprise.
“But, if everything is working correctly and there are no issues, then they go unnoticed, even though they are the ones keeping all critical operations up and running.
“The work SysAdmins do is imperative to business operations. If you lose access to your data, you can’t do anything. Keeping data available and secure is a big job, but it’s thankless – something needs to change.
“SysAdmins deserve more recognition, and there are ways this can be done subtly. For example, there are data management tools and platforms out there with dashboards that showcase the business value that SysAdmins deliver to management. It’s worth keeping this in mind and to take the time today to really appreciate just how successful your business is thanks to the forgotten heroes that are SysAdmins.”
Remote work brings new challenges
“This year, the U.K. public sector has been faced with more challenges than it’s tackled in decades,” highlights Sascha Giese, head geek at SolarWinds.
“While doctors and nurses have been saving lives and the central government has determined how to keep the country running, the IT systems on which this sector relies have been mission-critical. From the systems behind the NHS 111 helpline to the data collection and analysis shared by Number 10, technology has underpinned it all. It has also helped ensure many non-frontline employees can work from home safely and securely.
“SysAdmins are the team members working behind the scenes to uphold IT quality and functionality in all organisations, and to keep systems from suffering downtime—and this can be the difference between life and death, particularly during a pandemic. As the country begins to recover, it’s crucial for IT leaders to recognise the hard work of their SysAdmins and their vital role over the last few months, and they should provide training and tools to help them do their jobs even better.”
“IT organisations have had to scramble to connect teams while their security counterparts have had to scramble to ensure it’s being done while minimising risk,” agrees Tim Bandos, vice-president of cyber security at Digital Guardian.
“This balance can be difficult. For example, do vulnerabilities exist in video chat platforms apps that can allow attackers to compromise credentials and even eavesdrop on conversations? Are employees leveraging sites that are typically blocked while at work, like Dropbox or Box.
“It’s essential to educate employees on the risks associated with how data is transferred and offer them the tools they need before they go out on their own looking. To ensure the right safeguards are in place to protect your data, its highly recommended organisations identify a platform that falls in line with its security controls.”
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Showing appreciation this SysAdmin Day
“We should mark SysAdmin day this year by not only showing our appreciation for the role SysAdmins have played during the recent shift to remote working, but by increasing the ongoing support and training we offer people in this essential role,” comments Agata Nowakowska, area vice-president EMEA at Skillsoft.
“Organisations need to provide the opportunities for their SysAdmins to upskill and learn new certifications so they can continue to provide valuable support, even during periods of great change.”
JG Heithcock, general manager at Retrospect, a StorCentric company, agrees that it is important to provide SysAdmins with resources which will support them in their time-critical work. He describes:
“As we continue to work remotely and consider hybrid working environments in the future, it’s important for organisations to optimise their businesses and provide SysAdmins with the resources needed to seamlessly transition to this new normal by implementing the latest AI technologies to backup engines where possible and consolidate backup management to a single pane of glass.
“By securing and maintaining backups, SysAdmins will have the tools necessary to streamline workflows with efficient and reliable data backup solutions to keep businesses running and protected across changing working environments.”
“Consistent, reliable and responsive, SysAdmins have been the backbone of our industry during these challenging times,” Alan Conboy, office of the CTO at Scale Computing, concludes.
“Without them, we would all be more susceptible to all the usual issues – server failures, downtime and problems with upgrades and capacity – but even in the midst of the crisis, SysAdmins have maintained their teams’ momentum to overcome IT challenges, with a plan of attack for the next time.
“They’ve played a vital role in maintaining business resilience, ensuring companies worldwide could quickly and effectively mobilise their workforce to work remotely by keeping platforms like virtual desktop infrastructure running, making it possible to extend the remote capabilities of the workforce in a predictable and easy to manage way, without compromising enterprise security.
“Today, we celebrate all SysAdmins with a special offer that acts as a good reminder for organisations to always provide their SysAdmins with the tools, resources and words of encouragement they deserve to continue supporting our IT infrastructures, particularly through times of crisis.”