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Keeping many businesses moving this year would have been near impossible if not for the technology that enables many employees to work from home.

But more than the technology itself, the system administrators – or SysAdmins – that support it are equally as important. SysAdmins have helped enable thousands of employees across the country to continue working despite the pandemic; without this, many of these businesses would likely have collapsed.

This System Administrator Appreciation Day, we should all take the time to acknowledge and thank these IT heroes for their hard work and dedication. WeAreTechWomen spoke to six IT industry experts to hear their thoughts on how and why we should do this.

How 2020 has ramped up the pressure

The impact that the pandemic has had on all IT employees is immense, including for the SysAdmins trying to keep everyone else online. Alan Conboy, Office of the CTO at Scale Computing, encourages businesses to recognise this.

Alan Conboy Scale Computing, SysAdmins“Consistent, reliable and responsive, SysAdmins have been the backbone of our industry during these challenging times. 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.”

Harrison Wigg Content Guru, SysAdminsHarrison Wigg, Production Engineer at Content Guru, agrees that, “this year there have been added pressures. With organisations and schools everywhere undergoing a monumental shift to homeworking, it has been the SysAdmins working behind the scenes to ensure this is done as efficiently and securely as possible. We have had to ensure that physical equipment, from servers to laptops, is suited to this new working environment, and have supported staff by migrating equipment – from monitors to chairs – home for them.

“From a business continuity perspective, I feel that a SysAdmin’s role has been vital in keeping companies afloat throughout these past few months. Although the whole process of migrating everyone home has been challenging, the importance of ensuring it was done as perfectly as possible is unquestionable. And we get to do it all again now that staff are slowly migrating back to the office!”

It’s not only private businesses that have struggled with the sudden need for change but public sector organisations too, as Sascha Giese, Head Geek at SolarWinds, explains:

Sascha Giese SolarWinds, SysAdmin“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.”

With that in mind, how exactly can all organisations improve the role of SysAdmins?

Ways to help ease the load

Brett Cheloff ConnectWiseBrett Cheloff, VP of ConnectWise Automate, ConnectWise, details how finding the right software solutions can increase efficiency:

“With responsibilities such as proactive network monitoring, conducting routine maintenance, and managing ticket flow and security, SysAdmins need expert efficiency to get the job done. But as routine pitfalls produce extra work, even the most experienced technicians struggle to keep up with the demands of a modern IT infrastructure.

“These processes can be made much easier by using the right software. SysAdmins should seek out programs that provide insight into workflows and efficiency as well as facilitate system response monitoring. Doing so will improve overall response time and allow SysAdmins to reallocate their time to other important tasks. With the right product and processes, they can be more proactive-oriented and better prepared to handle reactive situations.”

JG Heithcock, Retrospect_StorCentric, SysAdmin“You can only have a successful remote team deployment with constant communication, which requires reliable, responsive and resourceful team members – three key attributes of SysAdmins,” comments JG Heithcock, GM at Retrospect, a StorCentric company. “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.”

Agata NowakowskaAgata Nowakowska, AVP EMEA at Skillsoft, admires the job of SysAdmins not just during the pandemic but prior to this, as she highlights that, “the SysAdmin role was no easy feat pre-COVID. SysAdmins face rising pressures and are expected to have a detailed knowledge of various technical programming languages. They need to be available at a moment’s notice, ready to support numerous new technologies as organisations power ahead with digital transformation.”

She continues by adding how training should be an increasing priority: “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. 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.”

Though SysAdmins are not always the most visible of employees, most organisations would falter quickly without them. As many workers slowly start to return to offices – or continue to embrace the new normal of working from home – it’s important to recognise the crucial role that SysAdmins play in keeping IT systems up and running, and we should celebrate them not just on July 31st, but every day!

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