SysAdmins: unsung heroes of the IT world

SysAdmin Day is celebrated annually on July 29 to show appreciation and recognition to those who keep our businesses running – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. While their critical work is essential for business continuity and survival, while everything runs smoothly, SysAdmins are often overlooked and undervalued.

As Mike Gosling, IT Service Platforms Manager at Cubic Conveyor Systemsemphasizes: “Although SysAdmins are respected within the IT profession, many people do not understand the scope and complexity of their role. High-quality IT services are often taken for granted, with the expression ‘out of sight, out of mind’ indicating Indeed, organizations tend to recognize customer-facing staff more than roles like the SysAdmin, who keep the systems running behind the scenes.”

On SysAdmin Day, Top Business Tech spoke to nine IT industry experts to learn more about the important job of these unsung heroes and how to show our appreciation for them.

You have to understand to appreciate

The main reason most people overlook the importance of SysAdmins is simply because they don’t understand what their role entails. Donnie MacColl, Senior Director of Technical Support at HelpSystemsdescribes them as “the mystical, invisible wizards who are always there to keep your IT systems running smoothly. Without them, many essential, day-to-day tasks simply wouldn’t happen, including: cash register transactions … print all documents .. recover or reset forgotten passwords…start a new job with a laptop, username and password ready…And the list goes on!These days, almost everything you depend on is touched in one way or another by your SysAdmins.”

Terry Storrar, director at Leaseweb UK, added: “SysAdmins are the backbone of the organization. These professionals maintain, upgrade and troubleshoot office systems, internal networks, firewalls and routers to ensure reliability and quality for end users. Without their hard work, companies would literally fall to their knees.

“At Leaseweb Global, we know the invaluable work SysAdmins do for our organization. In fact, every SysAdmin is available 24 hours a day for two weeks a month. Regardless of the day or time, whenever a problem arises at Leaseweb Global, an experienced SysAdmin is quickly available to resolve it.”

While criticism in any company, Gregg Mearing, CTO at Node4, stresses that SysAdmins are even more important “for Managed Service Providers whose technologies are used by many companies at the same time. They often have extensive knowledge about a wide variety of technologies and incredible problem-solving skills. It is these qualities, along with hard work and often long hours, that keep an MSP’s services running with consistent reliability and no downtime, which is essential to providing the best service to customers.”

Despite the challenges that have come their way in recent years – with COVID and remote working changing the way we work, in addition to the ever-growing threat of cyber-attacks – SysAdmins continue to do everything they can to keep our systems running.

“Their work gets harder every year,” explains Richard Orange, Vice President EMEA. from exam. “Challenges that SysAdmins now face include supporting a geographically diverse workforce, while battling an ever-expanding attack surface and shrinking company size. And with organizations increasingly focused on the cloud, SysAdmins are doing much of the heavy lifting when it comes to migration. Accelerated cloud adoption also removes some of the previous security controls inherent in provisioning on-premises infrastructure, adding further complexity to our SysAdmins. Bandwidth, as is so often the case, is now the main challenge for SysAdmins. We know that without them any business would not be able to function effectively.”

Show your support

SysAdmin Day is dedicated to showing support and appreciation for their work, but such gratitude should not be limited to just one day. Implementing policies and technologies that will make a SysAdmin’s job easier in the long run shows that you appreciate their hard work.

As Paul Farrington, Chief Product Officer at Glass wallsuggests, “Providing additional training and upgrading the tools they use every day are just two ways companies can show their appreciation for their SysAdmins. These actions will not only help administrators be more productive, not are held up by tedious manual tasks – it will also help them learn more skills and provide more opportunities for their career development.”

Rob Gilbert, Managing Director for Commercial and Logistics Affairs at Totally mobileagrees that “Creating a clear career progression path through regular training sessions and opportunities to take on greater responsibilities, supported by appropriate and innovative technologies, will enable them to deliver maximum value.”

As one of the primary responsibilities of a SysAdmin is to help protect against and prevent cyber attacks, Christopher Rogers, Technology Evangelist at Zertoa Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, advocates that “one of the best ways we can help our SysAdmins in their day-to-day tasks is to provide them with all the necessary tools and disaster recovery solutions to help them tackle and overcome disasters quickly and with ease.” Organizations looking to support their SysAdmins need to ensure they are spending enough and investing in a resilient infrastructure – for backup, disaster recovery and cloud mobility.The process of protecting your data by creating an extra copy is one thing, but organizations need a disaster recovery plan that focuses on minimizing downtime and recovering operations in minutes or seconds, not days or weeks.”

“The best thing an organization can do to support its SysAdmins is to find the right programs to provide visibility into workflows and efficiency while facilitating system response monitoring,” agreed Steve Cochran, CTO at ConnectWise. “This frees up SysAdmins to address other, more pressing issues so they can be more proactive and handle reactive situations with ease.”

Finally, Gregg Mearing of Node4 encourages everyone to recognize this annual event and include time for celebrations in your day: “If you rarely notice the work of a SysAdmin, it proves how well they do it! On this SysAdmin day, take the time to celebrate the unsung heroes of your company.”

Mike Gosling

IT Service Platforms Manager at Cubic Transportation Systems

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