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What is a Sysadmin?

by | Jul 30, 2021 | BLOG

In a world of constantly evolving technology, SysAdmin is one of the oldest and most in-demand roles in the technology field. 

While not always getting all the glory, SysAdmin is a critical piece of the technology organization and essential to the success of a business.

SysAdmin or Systems Administrator is the person responsible for configuring and managing a company’s entire infrastructure, including all the hardware, software, and operating systems required to support the business’ operations.

With the evolution of DevOps, traditional SysAdmin has become a more hybrid role, often wearing multiple hats and helping with a variety of tasks and actions that may require some development and programming. 

As such, this type of administrator must have a solid knowledge of hardware and software to effectively configure a resilient and secure architecture to protect the business and ensure a seamless customer experience.

Keep reading and learn more about the responsibilities of a SysAdmin and the differences between SysAdmin and DevOps.

What does a SysAdmin do?

SysAdmins are always available, whether it is to update their company’s software or repair a corrupt SQL database. Here are other tasks that IT professionals do that you might not even notice:

  • A SysAdmin installed the server for this website, installed an operating system, fixed it for security, made sure the power and router were working in the server room, monitored stability, configured the software, and kept backups in case anything goes wrong. 
  • Another SysAdmin installed the routers, laid the cables, set up the networks, set up the firewalls, watched and guided the traffic for each hop of the network that passes through copper, fiberglass, and even air itself to bring the Internet to your computer. 
  • SysAdmins ensure that your computer is working properly on a healthy network. They back up to safeguard and protect the environment from disasters, protect firewalls from security threats and hackers, and keep printers running. 
  • A SysAdmin takes care of spam, viruses, malware, spyware, as well as power outages, fires, and floods. 
  • When the mail server goes down at 2 am on a Sunday, a SysAdmin is notified, wakes up, and starts working. 
  • A system administrator is an expert who plans, takes care, fixes, pushes, defends, protects, and builds good computer networks.

What is the difference between DevOps and SysAdmin?

Since DevOps encompasses so many different tasks and processes, getting to a clear and comprehensive definition is a challenge.

DevOps is not necessarily about individual tools or roles, but rather a set of practices that developers and operators use to deliver software to end-users more holistically and efficiently. It is another philosophy along the lines of Agile that seeks to break down organizational silos and promote cross-functional teamwork and cooperation.

In other words, DevOps represents a convergence of many different spheres within enterprise IT.

Meanwhile, a system administrator, or SysAdmin, is a person responsible for maintaining, configuring, and reliably operating computer systems, especially multi-user computers such as servers.

As the descriptions above show, there is a clear difference between the two. So where does the confusion come from?

Much of the confusion occurs because “DevOps” has become a buzzword in the tech space.

The word “DevOps” has been misused countless times by companies looking to save money and get things done quickly. Using the word to cover up the desire to save money by reducing staff often creates big problems in the future.

Many companies and startups think DevOps engineers can do everything themselves and will solve all their problems once they are hired. This is not the case. It is wrong to think that a DevOps expert can be called upon to clean up all the mess a company has made until now with its infrastructure.

What to do to become a SysAdmin?

Becoming a system administrator will require learning some specialized skills. Earning a certification can bring you the necessary experience and enhance your resume.

As a SysAdmin, you will need to develop a basic set of skills that will allow you to make sure the computer systems in your organization are running smoothly. Here are the key skills you should want on your resume.

  • In-depth Knowledge of Operating Systems: Whether Windows, Linux or Mac, hiring managers often look for competence in administering the operating system used in their company. Windows and Linux operating systems have been widely adopted and are good systems to start with, although it is a good idea to see if your industry favors one over the others.
  • Hardware Familiarity: Running physical devices such as servers or printers will be an important part of a systems administrator’s job.
  • Cloud Administration Skills: Familiarity with cloud applications like Office365, Google Apps, and AWS can boost the hiring process.

  • Networking Knowledge: Being able to configure and maintain Local Area Networks (LAN) and Wide Area Networks (WAN), in addition to configuring network security features such as firewalls, are often expected of system administrators. This can often be the case in smaller companies where IT professionals are expected to play many roles. 
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills: In addition to working as a team, system administrators often must help other employees who do not have the same technical knowledge, through help desk support or other means. Being able to communicate well will be a critical part of the success of a system administrator’s daily tasks.


Final Thoughts

A SysAdmin reviews the big picture to ensure their business is running as efficiently and securely as possible.

This means being able to not only survive a major failure, but also protect against minor issues such as security breaches, system failures, and large financial costs.

The latter may seem like an odd role for IT, but think about it. How many computers does your organization have and how often do you replace them? Are you waiting until they are completely obsolete or fail before replacing them?

A large part of a SysAdmin’s job is to plan and maintain an up-to-date system. This means installing a regular hardware routine based on an approved schedule.

If you are interested in the subject, we also recommend reading the article Risks Associated with the Lack of Protection in Cloud Access below.

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