Over the years, system administrators have been straddled with the responsibility of making IT services accessible without hitches. And, while there is an increase in DevOps and cloud computing, the primary duties of a system administrator will always be required. Today’s version of system administrators is knowledgeable in both hardware and software to ensure the success of the business. Every business or company requires a system administrator to ensure the smooth flow of activities in the organization. You could hire one to guarantee overall business development.
Who is a system administrator?
Job description of a system administrator
- The job description of a system administrator involves ensuring that the peripheral systems are in good working condition.
- They resolve hardware failure and handle replacements when necessary.
- Also, they create file systems and manage the network communication.
- Setup security policies, while maintaining network integrity and server deployment.
- Handle the accounts of users and access rights. They also handle application and database server operations.
- They do thorough research on new products, and service protocols.
- System administrators install, configure, and maintain servers and networks.
- They ensure 100% output and productivity while overseeing system performance.
System administrator responsibilities and skills
- Must be able to handle backup and recovery policies.
- Depending on your tool-chain, you must be able to monitor core server and network metrics and set up alert signals when there is an emergency. So, you would know how to use both external system outputs and metrics to determine the condition of your systems.
- You should also be able to work with a team.
- System administrators are in charge of all applications and services, both management, permission, and administration.
- They manage passwords, ensure security requirements are provided everywhere, and help employers gain access to the systems they need. For password management, system admins can use two-factor authentication and be vigilant enough to reset the password when there is a security threat.
- Ensure data management and organization by using policies and procedures to properly keep files in the rightful position. In other words, you must enable employers to gain access to files easily.
- You must also be distinct in your actions in order to carry every employee along, and show them how to use systems securely.
- Software installation, updates, and regular upkeep. The system admin is responsible for software installation and updates as often as required.
- You should also be able to detect system issues and fix them immediately.
- Fix redundancies and rollovers. System admins should have an updated backup plan for redundancies. In other words, he or she should be able to identify any failures and remediate IT incidents.
- Security should be top-of-mind across everything a system administrator works on. Whether it has to do with user permissions or the way the team maintains documentation, he or she needs to perform all actions securely.
- As the company setup networks, policies, and servers, the system admin should know how to do it in a technically acceptable way.
- Maintain precise documentation and update runbooks. System administrators need to know how they can leverage automation to keep runbooks and documentation accurate and updated without slowing the development process in the life cycle.
- Must be able to detect unusual incidents and offer immediate remediation. They need to build a formidable response mechanism for handling emergencies by building a system that allows incident detection.
- They also need to adopt a good communication strategy to ensure proper dissemination of information across the staff of the company.
- He/she should be accountable for every activity in the company. Most times, system administrators will have to be in charge of conducting post-incident reviews for their affected systems. How long did it take to identify the issue? The solution offered. How long did it take to remediate the incident? Keeping up with post-incident reviews, collaborating with other affected teams, and taking detailed post-incident notes can help improve IT and software developer relationships. The post-incident notes also serve as a means of learning and mastering your skills – leading to better feedback loops and more reliable deployments. Use post-incident reviews as a way to learn from your past mistakes and improve people, processes, and technology for the future.
- A good system administrator must be a problem solver with top-notch abilities. Despite the complications with system administration, it is necessary to find ways to reduce the risks in your IT and security infrastructure.
Inorder to be productive and fit into the era of massive technologies, system administrators need to know more about programming, automation, and cloud computing. They should also get acquainted with modern technical skills because they maintain the efficiency of all software and hardware.
Getting used to tools is necessary as well for professionalism and smooth execution of tasks. Some modern skills and technologies system administrators should be familiar with include:
Configuration management and automation
Like we said earlier, system administrators must be comfortable working with tools like Puppet, Chef, Ansible, and Jenkins. These tools enable them to automate tasks and configurations. This automation will lead to fewer errors, easy regulations, and faster deployments. So, developers can now spend more time in building new applications and services instead of fixing already existing projects.
Because of the level of growth in the technological space, and the takeover of AWS, Azure, and GCP – system administrators in any company need to know how to navigate systems in the cloud. What types of monitoring and alerting tools should you use? What’s the best way to manage your servers and networks now that your infrastructure is cloud-based? These are questions systems admins need to work on at all times.
Also, building redundancies and security into the entire system is necessary. It is one of the most important skills for system admins anywhere. Technology is expanding, the earlier you grow with it, the better for your career.
Git and other version control
Git is the most commonly used form of version control. And version control is a means of tracking changes in code and different versions of an application or service. By doing this, you can know if there is ever an issue with the current version of a service. System admins can easily rollback deployments or updates to fix the problem.
Version control is essential for maintaining a reliable CI/CD pipeline and providing visibility to projects across all of the engineering and IT. System admins need to understand version control so they can quickly see what developers are doing, identify issues, and fix them – many times before they ever happen for customers. This skill makes system administration a lot easier for both the ideal system admins, customers, and other staff of the company.
Server and network upkeep
General network maintenance is the main job of a system administrator. As mentioned above, system admins need to understand the mechanism of server and network upkeep. These servers and networks are the pillars holding up your entire business and providing value to customers. If there is an issue, it automatically affects the productivity of the entire organization.
So, system administrators need to continuously improve on different maintenance methods. These methods will help them to create more reliable systems, avoid outages as much as possible, and improve incident response when an incident does occur. You also need soft skills like precision and teamwork to enable you to maintain the company’s server because you will not be working alone.
Scripting and programming
Just like we mentioned in the introduction, software programmers now assume the role of the system administrator in most companies. And more system admins are writing scripts and programming to achieve their desired results. This need for system administrators who frequently write code has enabled a newer movement in site reliability engineering (SRE).
Traditionally, system admins have been highly reactive toward incidents in production due to the code that was passed to them by developers. But, as system admins and SRE teams start to write code more often and collaborate with developers earlier in the deployment lifecycle, they can proactively identify problems and fix them more often.
This prompt identification of problems saves the company a lot of stress, as they will be able to render their services without issues. System admins who are proficient at writing scripts and programming are highly coveted in today’s market because they can actively help improve system reliability and drive business value.
Appreciate your team’s system administrator
In our world today, system administrators rarely get the recognition they deserve. They frequently respond to on-call incidents and fix incidents that could potentially lead to millions of dollars in lost revenue and negative customer experiences. Sometimes their wins are often linked to software developers (even though they work together). Within any good IT and engineering team, there is a constant balance between speed and reliability.
While developers are often pushing the boundaries on speed, system admins are doing the hard job of slowing them down before they go too far. This balance produces greater reliability and security across all of your applications and services.
As a system administrator, do not sell yourself short, as your importance cannot be overemphasized. Read, learn, and always improve yourself. Your career path is one that is tied to how much you know and your problem-solving abilities. Therefore, you must be consistent in acquiring as many skills as possible. The increase in the number of tech-based startup companies is overwhelming but also indicates that you have many job opportunities.
Although it is quite rare to see freelance system administrator jobs, you could source for jobs online from legit sources or check around your locale. No matter how voluminous the responsibilities of a system administrator, all you need is the right frame of mind, enthusiasm, and maximum concentration to achieve your goals. In all you do, remember that the technical aspects of the company are in your hands, so you must discharge your duties with complete professionalism.
Are you a beginner in this career path, do well to drop your questions and remarks in the comment section.