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It has been said that there is a designated ‘day’ for everything under the sun. I don’t know whether that’s true—but I do know that system administrators (sys admins) have their day in the sun on July 28th. Yes, that is Sys Admin Appreciation Day, and a great time to celebrate all those who ‘keep the lights on’ for the rest of us.


Sys admins are the unsung heroes of the IT world. They support our computing environments, and ensure that IT services and support systems continue to run effectively and efficiently. They manage uptime, and limit work disruptions resulting from downtime. They schedule maintenance and upgrades, install and troubleshoot hardware and software, and assess new technologies. We really would be lost without them. They are, as David Weik put it so elegantly in a tweetchat last July, the modern-day steam that powers every organisation.


The world of sys admins

What should we celebrate in particular about system admins? Here’s my list:


1. They have really strong technical and personal skills and capabilities.

There is no question that system admins have extremely good technical skills. However, they also usually have excellent interpersonal skills, especially communication skills. In most organisations, they are required to translate technical language, and provide hand-holding services for less technically adept users, acting as a bridge between IT and the business world.


2. We keep criticising—but they still keep things running.

Let’s be honest about this: we all know that sys admins can’t win. Whatever they do, we’re going to criticise. If there’s downtime, we’ll want to work. If they don’t schedule downtime, things will go wrong. They can never, ever do anything quickly enough for most of us. We only ever see them when things go wrong, so they tend to take a lot of flak from us. However, they still manage to stay calm and keep things running.


3. They keep managing to do more with less.

Every organisation wants to achieve more with less—and system admins are key to this in IT. Optimisation is the watchword to managing this feat, and they are really good at it. They also manage to keep the organisation secure despite the huge challenges involved in this. Truly, they are modern miracle workers.


4. They always manage to stay ahead of the game.

Like the rest of us, system admins need to stay up to date with what they do. They have to know about the latest technology so that they can respond knowledgeably to requests for new software and hardware. Perhaps even more importantly, they need to be ahead of the game on cybersecurity matters, because they are very much the front line in that department.


Learning and growing

The next question, of course, is how do sys admins manage to stay up-to-date and keep learning? We may be able to find some part of the answer at the SAS Explore event happening in Las Vegas in September. Here are four breakout sessions on the agenda that caught my attention:


Praveen Jampana will be leading a session on items that are often missed in SAS infrastructure maintenance. This is the ‘nuts and bolts’ of system admin: practical, useful information about getting the basics right, and particularly drawing on the expertise at SAS to find new solutions to problems. Margaret Crevar’s session focuses on another ‘nuts and bolts’ issue: installing upgrades, and in this case migrating to the latest issue of SAS® 9.4. She will discuss how to manage a smooth transition, and the security benefits of upgrading.


Eric Bourn’s session focuses on security, a perennial headache for system admins. He will consider how to use the right authentication and authorisation frameworks, and what else system admins can do to protect organisational assets from harm. The fourth and final session will be run by Rob Collum. He will focus on a technical issue: the intersection between Kubernetes and the SAS Viya platform. Understanding the controls available means that system admins can better fine-tune the environment to ensure that it runs smoothly and can be tailored to fit the organisation’s specific needs.


The icing on the cake

I often think the best training I’ve ever received on system admin was learning from people who had been doing it for years. There’s no doubt this sentiment resonates with may admins I have met. The admin sessions at SAS Explore are a way to deliver on this need to meet peers and exchange experiences.


The best registration deal going right now includes full registration + first hotel night included for $995 USD.  Register now while this offer is available!


Meteorite | Level 14

We all know how important data is!




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