Friday, 14th August 2020

Celebrating the SysAdmins that kept the industry moving through the pandemic

Every year, SysAdmin Day is a time to celebrate and recognise the hard work system administrators do for the organisations they work in. Their work is the bread and butter that keeps organisations moving. However, this year, the pandemic has doubled – and even tripled – their workload, especially with the added task of managing IT systems remotely. Digitalisation World spoke to six industry leaders who want to acknowledge and recognise the importance of SysAdmins, and the work they have done to keep organisations running during this time.

Unsung heroes of IT

“This year, the U.K. public sector has been faced with more challenges than it’s tackled in decades. 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,” Sascha Giese, Head Geek atSolarWinds, explains. “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.”

Krishna Subramanian, COO atKomprise agrees and emphasises how important a SysAdmin’s role truly is: “The work SysAdmins do is imperative to business operations. If you lose access to your data, you can’t do anything. Keeping data available and secure is a big job, but it’s thankless – something needs to change.

“SysAdmins deserve more recognition, and there are ways this can be done subtly. For example, there are data management tools and platforms out there with dashboards that showcase the business value that SysAdmins deliver to management. It’s worth keeping this in mind and to take the time today to really appreciate just how successful your business is thanks to the forgotten heroes that are SysAdmins.”

Harrison Wigg, Production Engineer atContent Guru highlights Sysadmin’s support with the shift to remote working:“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. We have also had to ensure that employees’ home setups are going to be efficient, from a connectivity, security and productivity point of view.

“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!”

Give SysAdmin’s additional support

Agata Nowakowska, AVP EMEA atSkillsoft stresses how SysAdmin’s need additional support to continue doing their job to the best of their ability: “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.

"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."

“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,” saysAlan Conboy, Office of the CTO atScale Computing.

Alan continues, “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.”

Tim Bandos, Vice President of Cyber Security atDigital Guardian concludes by highlighting that we continue to educate employees to support SysAdmins in their roles:“SysAdmin Day’s number one objective is to celebrate the colleagues who keep IT secure, prevent disasters and generally keep the IT lights on. It’s an increasingly challenging role, made all the more difficult by the huge number of employees who are now working remotely. IT organisations have had to scramble to connect teams while their security counterparts have had to scramble to ensure it’s being done while minimising risk. This balance can be difficult. For example, do vulnerabilities exist in video chat platforms apps that can allow attackers to compromise credentials and even eavesdrop on conversations? Are employees leveraging sites that are typically blocked while at work, like Dropbox or Box.

“It’s essential to educate employees on the risks associated with how data is transferred and offer them the tools they need before they go out on their own looking. To ensure the right safeguards are in place to protect your data, its highly recommended organisations identify a platform that falls in line with its security controls.”

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