|Names||System administrator, systems administrator, sysadmin, IT professional|
|Competencies||System administration, network management, analytical skills, thinking|
|Varies from self study, certifications, and sometimes an Associate or Bachelor's degree in a related field.|
|Management of a business|
A system administrator, or sysadmin, or admin is a person who is responsible for the upkeep, configuration, and reliable operation of computer systems, especially multi-user computers, such as servers. The system administrator seeks to ensure that the uptime, performance, resources, and security of the computers they manage meet the needs of the users, without exceeding a set budget when doing so.
To meet these needs, a system administrator may acquire, install, or upgrade computer components and software; provide routine automation; maintain security policies; troubleshoot; train or supervise staff; or offer technical support for projects.
Many organizations staff offer jobs related to system administration. In a larger company, these may all be separate positions within a computer support or Information Services (IS) department. In a smaller group they may be shared by a few sysadmins, or even a single person.
Most employersrequire a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as computer science, information technology, electronics engineering, or computer engineering. Some schools also offer undergraduate degrees and graduate programs in system administration.
In addition, because of the practical nature of system administration and the easy availability of open-source server software, many system administrators enter the field self-taught.
Generally, a prospective employee will be required to have experience with the computer systems they are expected to manage. In most cases, candidates are expected to possess industry certifications such as the Microsoft MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, Red Hat RHCE, Novell CNA, CNE, Cisco CCNA or CompTIA's A+ or Network+, Sun Certified SCNA, Linux Professional Institute, Linux Foundation Certified Engineer or Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator,among others.
Sometimes, almost exclusively in smaller sites, the role of system administrator may be given to a skilled user in addition to or in replacement of his or her duties.
The subject matter of system administration includes computer systems and the ways people use them in an organization. This entails a knowledge of operating systems and applications, as well as hardware and software troubleshooting, but also knowledge of the purposes for which people in the organization use the computers.
Perhaps the most important skill for a system administrator is problem solving—frequently under various sorts of constraints and stress. The sysadmin is on call when a computer system goes down or malfunctions, and must be able to quickly and correctly diagnose what is wrong and how best to fix it. They may also need to have teamwork and communication skills; as well as being able to install and configure hardware and software.
Sysadmins must understand the behavior of software in order to deploy it and to troubleshoot problems, and generally know several programming languages used for scripting or automation of routine tasks. A typical sysadmin's role is not to design or write new application software but when they are responsible for automating system or application configuration with various configuration management tools, the lines somewhat blur. Depending on the sysadmin's role and skillset they may be expected to understand equivalent key/core concepts a software engineer understands. That said, system administrators are not software engineers or developers, in the job title sense.
Particularly when dealing with Internet-facing or business-critical systems, a sysadmin must have a strong grasp of computer security. This includes not merely deploying software patches, but also preventing break-ins and other security problems with preventive measures. In some organizations, computer security administration is a separate role responsible for overall security and the upkeep of firewalls and intrusion detection systems, but all sysadmins are generally responsible for the security of computer systems.
A system administrator's responsibilities might include:
In larger organizations, some of the tasks above may be divided among different system administrators or members of different organizational groups. For example, a dedicated individual(s) may apply all system upgrades, a Quality Assurance (QA) team may perform testing and validation, and one or more technical writers may be responsible for all technical documentation written for a company. System administrators, in larger organizations, tend not to be systems architects, systems engineers, or systems designers.
In smaller organizations, the system administrator might also act as technical support, database administrator, network administrator, storage (SAN) administrator or application analyst.
An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware, software resources, and provides common services for computer programs.
A package manager or package-management system is a collection of software tools that automates the process of installing, upgrading, configuring, and removing computer programs for a computer in a consistent manner.
A web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that hosts websites for clients, i.e. it offers the facilities required for them to create and maintain a site and makes it accessible on the World Wide Web. Companies providing web hosting services are sometimes called web hosts.
The Network Information Service, or NIS, is a client–server directory service protocol for distributing system configuration data such as user and host names between computers on a computer network. Sun Microsystems developed the NIS; the technology is licensed to virtually all other Unix vendors.
Bonjour is Apple's implementation of zero-configuration networking (zeroconf), a group of technologies that includes service discovery, address assignment, and hostname resolution. Bonjour locates devices such as printers, other computers, and the services that those devices offer on a local network using multicast Domain Name System (mDNS) service records.
A live CD is a complete bootable computer installation including operating system which runs directly from a CD-ROM or similar storage device into a computer's memory, rather than loading from a hard disk drive. A live CD allows users to run an operating system for any purpose without installing it or making any changes to the computer's configuration. Live CDs can run on a computer without secondary storage, such as a hard disk drive, or with a corrupted hard disk drive or file system, allowing data recovery.
CUPS is a modular printing system for Unix-like computer operating systems which allows a computer to act as a print server. A computer running CUPS is a host that can accept print jobs from client computers, process them, and send them to the appropriate printer.
Group Policy is a feature of the Microsoft Windows NT family of operating systems that controls the working environment of user accounts and computer accounts. Group Policy provides centralized management and configuration of operating systems, applications, and users' settings in an Active Directory environment. A set of Group Policy configurations is called a Group Policy Object (GPO). A version of Group Policy called Local Group Policy allows Group Policy Object management without Active Directory on standalone computers.
udev is a device manager for the Linux kernel. As the successor of devfsd and hotplug, udev primarily manages device nodes in the /dev directory. At the same time, udev also handles all user space events raised when hardware devices are added into the system or removed from it, including firmware loading as required by certain devices.
Software deployment is all of the activities that make a software system available for use.
Safe mode is a diagnostic mode of a computer operating system (OS). It can also refer to a mode of operation by application software. Safe mode is intended to help fix most, if not all, problems within an operating system. It is also widely used for removing rogue security software.
A dedicated hosting service, dedicated server, or managed hosting service is a type of Internet hosting in which the client leases an entire server not shared with anyone else. This is more flexible than shared hosting, as organizations have full control over the server(s), including choice of operating system, hardware, etc.
Tom Limoncelli is an American system administrator, author, and speaker. A system administrator and network engineer since 1987, he speaks at conferences around the world on topics ranging from firewall security to time management. He is the author of Time Management for System Administrators from O'Reilly; along with Christine Hogan, co-author of the book The Practice of System and Network Administration from Addison-Wesley, which won the 2005 SAGE Outstanding Achievement Award, and in 2007 with Peter H. Salus he has published a compilation of the best April Fools jokes created by the IETF entitled The Complete April Fools' Day RFCs.
Linux Professional Institute (LPI) offers three different certification tracks. The core certification program, Linux Professional, contains three different levels addressing distinct aspects of Linux system administration. The organization also offers an introductory Essentials program for beginners in Linux and open source, as well as an Open Technology track for professionals working with additional technologies such as DevOps and BSD.
A number of computer operating systems employ security features to help prevent malicious software from gaining sufficient privileges to compromise the computer system. Operating systems lacking such features, such as DOS, Windows implementations prior to Windows NT, CP/M-80, and all Mac operating systems prior to Mac OS X, had only one category of user who was allowed to do anything. With separate execution contexts it is possible for multiple users to store private files, for multiple users to use a computer at the same time, to protect the system against malicious users, and to protect the system against malicious programs. The first multi-user secure system was Multics, which began development in the 1960s; it wasn't until UNIX, BSD, Linux, and NT in the late 80s and early 90s that multi-tasking security contexts were brought to x86 consumer machines.
A computer appliance is a home appliance with software or firmware that is specifically designed to provide a specific computing resource. Such devices became known as appliances because of the similarity in role or management to a home appliance, which are generally closed and sealed, and are not serviceable by the user or owner. The hardware and software are delivered as an integrated product and may even be pre-configured before delivery to a customer, to provide a turn-key solution for a particular application. Unlike general purpose computers, appliances are generally not designed to allow the customers to change the software and the underlying operating system, or to flexibly reconfigure the hardware.
Configurable Network Computing or CNC is JD Edwards's (JDE) client–server proprietary architecture and methodology that implements its highly-scalable enterprise-wide business solutions software that can run on a wide variety of hardware, operating systems (OS) and hardware platforms. Now a division of the Oracle Corporation, Oracle continues to sponsor ongoing development of the JD Edwards Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, While highly flexible, the CNC architecture is proprietary and, as such, it cannot be exported to any other systems. While the CNC architecture's chief 'Claim to fame', insulation of applications from the underlying database and operating systems, were largely superseded by modern web-based technology, nevertheless CNC technology continues to be at the heart of both JD Edwards' One World and Enterprise One architecture and will play a significant role Oracle's developing fusion architecture initiative. While a proprietary architecture, CNC is neither an Oracle nor JDE product offering. The term CNC also refers to the systems analysts who install, maintain, manage and enhance this architecture. CNC's are also one of the three technical areas of expertise in the JD Edwards Enterprise Resource Planning ERP which include developer/report writer and functional/business analysts!
Mobile device management (MDM) is the administration of mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablet computers, and laptops. MDM is usually implemented with the use of a third-party product that has management features for particular vendors of mobile devices. Though closely related to Enterprise Mobility Management and Unified Endpoint Management, MDM differs slightly from both: unlike MDM, EMM includes mobile information management, BYOD, mobile application management and mobile content management, whereas UEM provides device management for endpoints like desktops, printers, IoT devices, and wearables as well.
Infrastructure as code (IaC) is the process of managing and provisioning computer data centers through machine-readable definition files, rather than physical hardware configuration or interactive configuration tools. The IT infrastructure managed by this process comprises both physical equipment, such as bare-metal servers, as well as virtual machines, and associated configuration resources. The definitions may be in a version control system. The code in the definition files may use either scripts or declarative definitions, rather than maintaining the code through manual processes, but IaC more often employs declarative approaches.
A DevOps toolchain is a set or combination of tools that aid in the delivery, development, and management of software applications throughout the systems development life cycle, as coordinated by an organisation that uses DevOps practices.
This article incorporates public domain material from Occupational Outlook Handbook (2010-11 ed.). Bureau of Labor Statistics.