Is your network secure? Is your computer updated and working? Is the IT-infrastructure of the company you are running or working for stable? If the answer is yes, well then, that is not because of some sort of magic. There is one person responsible for the proper functioning of all IT systems and gadgets and this is the System Administrator, most commonly referred to as sysadmin. Sysadmins kill computer viruses, rise servers from the dead, fix programs which have crashed… and reconnect THAT cable OVER THERE which somehow has been neglected ONCE AGAIN, and which, therefore, is the reason why something does not turn on. However, it is precisely these people who become the forgotten heroes of the hectic IT everydayness. Coming to realize the lack of obvious recognition of what system administrators actually do, back in 2000 Ted Kekatos changed the game. What started as a joke, transformed into a National System Administrator Appreciation Day. The holiday is celebrated in many countries on the last Friday in July every year in order to show appreciation for these specialists. This particular day is now commemorated by geeky and other IT websites like ThinkGeek and CafePress which come up with a number of contests, exclusive product deals and discounts. There are also E-cards and filk songs which honor the Sysadmin Day.
With the upcoming day in question, we asked our BGO Software system guru, Ivan Angov, a couple of questions. And here is how he responded.
- So what the HACK is a SysAdmin?
A Handyman. No, just kidding. Although, often, system administrators come very close to this definition. Or at least most people think so. But seriously now. Generally speaking, System Administrator is a person who manages the IT-infrastructure of one company, the network for OSPF, BGP, VPN and the VoIP. This is also the person who takes care of the data security, servers, DNS and many other systems. In my case, though, I am the guy who configures all these things and after that I make sure that they work flawlessly and reliably. Interestingly enough, 99.9% of people think that Sysadmin is somebody who only replaces the battery of the mouse. True, it is part of his obligations but, as you can see, there are far more interesting things which he is responsible for.
I personally think that it is important to note that the sysadmin, or at least a true one, has no determined working hours. He is online 24/7/356 days in a year. System administrators work on Saturdays and Sundays when all the others rest. And this is a necessity. It is a routine. Sysadmins do that in order to reconfigure the network, to make the necessary maintenance of mail servers and to cover all other things that cannot be completed when everybody is at work and uses the IT infrastructure.
In summary, real system administrators dedicate 100% of themselves to their profession. They always carry a backpack which contains a laptop and at least two 3G USBs. Why is that so? Well, because sysadmins must be ready to save the IT infrastructure remotely in case something happens. And it is, in fact, inevitable because something always happens. Especially if you have decided to take a day off and go to the mountain or the seaside and you are 400 kilometers away from the office and the datacenter. This is like leaving your dog at home and hoping that he will not eat the furniture. Or the electrical cords.
- We’ve noticed that one of your favorite t-shirts says “No I will not fix your computer again. USE LINUX.” So, tell us the story behind that t-shirt.
I have been a Linux system and network administrator for many years now. I love Open Source and I love having full control over the system. The freedom of work which Linux simply provides you with is impressive. Everyone knows that Windows is considerably more user-friendly but that makes it quite vulnerable to all sorts of issues. Unlike Linux. Here, things are much more complex but almost the whole IT world is managed by Linux servers. They are significantly more stable, more secure and, most importantly, there is no need to pay for insanely expensive licenses. It is free and works impeccably.
Of course one can talk about this topic for ages but this is not the point. So, about the t-shirt. I decided to play a little joke on my colleagues who are fans of Windows. This is why I ordered it but there is actually a huge dose of truth in it. Fact!
- Is it true that the most important skill you need to master as a SysAdmin is problem solving and if yes, why?
Yes and no. A system administrator should have many skills. Undoubtedly, it is important to solve all sorts of problems. Still though, a system administrator should strive to configure and choose things in order to outline what potential problems may arise so that they can be prevented in advance.
Of course, different fields require a lot of experience and knowledge. Nevertheless, it is important to do things with the idea to minimize prerequisites for one problem or another. Problems will always appear in the dynamic world which we live in and in the very nature of technologies. And we have to solve them. Everything in the IT industry is developing really fast. The needs of different companies and the requirements of people are growing. Therefore, in order to work in-line with such progressions, a system administrator must constantly update his skills and knowledge.
To be a Master-sysadmin, one should be able to not only fix problems but to foresee them so that he can eliminate them to minimum. And typically for a system administrator, I will finish with something off the topic. Backup, backup and backup. There are two types of people on the planet – the first type needs a backup now, and the second type will need it very soon.
So show appreciation towards your SysAdmin. Download a virus, unplug a cable, throw away the battery of your mouse and call the system administrator over. Tell him you need his help and make him feel worthy.