The commemoration of different groups and jobs has become more common on different days throughout the year, and as the end of July comes around the time has come to show appreciation to all the System Administrators around the world.
System Administrators (or SysAdmins for short) in a sense wear a lot of “hats” in the running of an IT system in a company/department. This makes the exact role hard to define as it’s usually quite fluid and scenario specific.
In modern day pop culture, the role of SysAdmins have been portrayed in many different fashions, some positive, some negative. Due to the difficulty of defining this type of role you may see many characters in popular culture covering many of the characteristics of the role of a SysAdmin you might recognise.
One of the most famous examples of highlighting the world of Sysadmins comes from the popular UK comedy show ‘The IT Crowd’. This show has worked its way not only into tech-inclined circles but has also broken into general mainstream appeal. One of the running gags throughout the show is around the monotony of the world of tech support, poking fun at the general population’s lack of technical literacy.
In celebration of SysAdmin Appreciation day, comical appreciations have been released on this day. An example of this is the SysAdmin Day musical made by PDQ.
How it’s Celebrated
On the official website for SysAdmin Day lists a few suggestions in ways you can show your appreciation to your SysAdmin or your IT Department.
- Cake & Ice cream
- Words of gratitude
- Custom t-shirts celebrating the epic greatness of your SysAdmin
Despite this day not being as well-known as others, celebrations for it have existed for quite a while now, all across the world. Probably the biggest celebration of System Administrators appreciation day is in Russia. Since 2006 a gathering has been held on this day at the city of Kaluga to celebrate and commemorate this day. As the celebration has matured, people now usually gather at the monument called the “Keyboard Monument” pictured below.
In smaller companies and teams, they end up being the de facto tech support for the systems they are managing. This requires them to hold a vast and comprehensive knowledge of the systems they are operating. This type of support can come in many forms, the first of which being in aiding their colleagues with using the company’s systems when they are attempting something new or need reminding of something they haven’t done in a while. This support they give in their role as a Systems Administrator can also be on the hardware side by installing and maintaining the various pieces of computer equipment in the workplace, usually responsible for the routine repairs in medium and smaller workplaces.
In larger companies a SysAdmin will have less support to have to do as dedicated departments will cover this task, however from time to time they could be called on in delivering support to newly promoted members of the team or in assisting in the development of training material.
Another “hat” that a systems administrator wears is the security systems and the network of the systems that they manage. The types of security threats facing a SysAdmin vary from role to role and come in a few forms, the first of which being external malicious threats. These types of threats can be hackers attempting to gain access to the system or the information on it, this also would include planning and mitigating hardware threats on the physical computer equipment through the use of user permissions and a strong security policy.
Whilst at larger companies the security would be handled by a team focused on these issues a lot of the main decisions would be done through the SysAdmin so they continue to be an integral role in organisations of all sizes.
One of the lesser known hats they wear is that of the task of writing up documentation for the systems they administer. In all workplaces there is either a folder, a file or a digital collection of written up user guides and documentations to all systems used within the workplace. Any of these systems which have been developed or extended in-house will require the time spent planning and writing these guides.
Next time in your workplace when you are flicking through the work manual finding out how to do something, remember to be thankful to the Sysadmins for making sure all this information is available.
Backup & Disaster Recovery
The one message no SysAdmin wants to receive is when some form of disaster affects the system, this could be recovering from a malicious attack which has damaged or corrupted key data and information, or a bug within the system causing an immediate issue with the system. In times like this it’s important for a SysAdmin to remain calm and work through the protocols they would have helped devise, to identify the problem and get to work about sorting it out. Luckily in disasters like this it is important to keep regular and accurate backups of the whole system. In times like these it’s important that they make sure the backups aren’t affected, and then restore the entire system to this backup, updating any changes the backup doesn’t have.
In conclusion, it’s always going to be hard to describe the exact roles accomplished by a System Administrator, but the effect of the work they do is for all to see, this celebration of this day on the last Friday in July has seen a bit of growth in recent years, with a lot of large IT companies putting on events for it. Be sure to show your support for their often-overlooked but critical role in any workplace!
Nathaniel is a Web Design Executive who also writes content on technology and loves spending his days researching and building new projects, and generally complaining about new trends.