A system administrator or (informally) admin, sysadmin manages computer systems on the basis of broad access rights to the system. System administrators plan, install, configure, and maintain the information technology (IT) infrastructure of a company or other organizations. As operators, they carry out the manual activities required for the ongoing operation of the computer equipment.
In many companies, organizations, etc. the IT infrastructure determines the flow of business processes to such an extent that it has become a business-critical factor. For this reason, the proper functioning of this infrastructure is of considerable importance. In addition to servers and workstations, the structures in this sense also include the underlying storage systems, networks and telecommunications systems.
There are currently no necessary, generally recognized, formal training and examination certificates to work as a system administrator. The required knowledge from many sub-fields is taught in its entire breadth and in a suitable form at very few educational institutions. The majority of professionals in this field are currently career changers whose skills and knowledge are based on further training in daily professional life (experience). In practice, it can be seen that system administrators have completed certain training and courses of study.
Methodological Skills and Social Characteristics
The following paragraph attempts to compile the essential non-technical characteristics of a system administrator. Some points are self-evident or also a prerequisite in other professions, others are particularly characteristic of system administrators.
It is important to work systematically and analytically. Several tasks are completed at the same time, often under deadline pressure. Furthermore, effective precise communication should be conducted in oral and written form, preferably in other languages, but at least in the language used in the organization and in English. Another important skill is to be able to obtain information independently and to be ready for continuous further training. A good system administrator should also have initiative, independence and a sense of responsibility, and be willing to take on responsibility. In addition, he should have the ability to assess the risks of his own actions. In order to be able to present a successful result, it is very important that he has a strong will to find solutions to problems and to test them. Furthermore, it is important that the system administrator concentrates on his work in peace, even under high deadline pressure, and that the work that has been started is completed.
The system administrator must have a business understanding and skills to evaluate the technology in terms of costs. In addition, he should be able to prioritize tasks in the interest of the organization. The goal of a system administrator should be efficient operation according to the KISS principle. The result should be a minimization of time and stable, maintainable systems. In view of the fact that operational IT systems can only be taken offline on weekends for maintenance and care, if at all, precise planning of the implementation structure of new systems, patch management, relocation or servicing of the systems is crucial. It is not insignificant to take into account the operating environment; For example, companies whose systems work primarily on weekdays as opposed to critical systems, such as in hospitals that need to maintain their data permanently and over long periods of time, and where an outage can be life-critical, for example.
A system administrator is expected to have a basic understanding or mastery of common concepts in the IT environment. These include, but are not limited to:
- Relevant concepts of the operating systems to be administered (processes, memory, input/output, file systems, etc.)
- Microsoft Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Windows Server 2012
- Unix/Linux Server
- Basic operating system services (e-mail, print services, user management, etc.)
- Authentication methods, security concepts
- Diagnosing and resolving hardware failures
- Network Infrastructure
- Network protocols and network base services (Internet protocol family and others)
- Application architectures (client-server, 2/3/multi-tier, peer-to-peer…)
- Directory Services and Middleware
- Script programming for administrative purposes
- Programming languages (Perl, Java …)
- Basic data center operations (backup, change management, service levels, etc.)
- Apache HTTP Server
- Storage infrastructure (virtualization, SAN, NAS, etc.)
- Discretion, integrity and loyalty
A system administrator should be able to administer systems based on these concepts, if necessary on different platforms with the appropriate tools.