System Administrator: The Unsung SuperheroGregg Petersen
Since time immemorial, we have grown up watching our favourite superheroes battle threats and safeguard us. While some superheroes have supernatural powers, there are a few who are just like normal human beings, but still carry out the extraordinary task of keeping trouble at bay.
Drawing a parallel with the real world, an IT system administrator (sys admin) working in the background plays no lesser role than a superhero to ensure the business runs without any glitches. This is even more relevant in the digital ecosystem, where an enterprise is expected to make data and applications available 24X7X365. Whether for the reel or real superhero, high performance is a strategic priority and necessity to address internal and external forces of change.
Agility is the key weapon in a superhero's arsenal. Likewise in the digital ecosystem, cloud, mobility and social are driving business agility and redefining the way an enterprise conducts business today. However, to make businesses available, sys admins face major roadblocks in the form of managing legacy technology that is ill-equipped to address the requirements of modern businesses.
What enterprises truly need today is to extract extreme performance in a virtual environment through powerful data centers. Understanding business needs and aligning corporate goals should be at the heart of the IT team’s strategy to fill the gap between the users’ demand and the ability to provide high availability. For instance, CXOs are not just convinced with the periodic report on backup, what they need is 24 X 7 disaster recovery, backup, replication, and monitoring packaged in one solution to help enterprises run in an Always-On mode.
The forces of four Ps come together to empower the IT system administrator in becoming the real world superhero:
- Partner: Even the strongest superheroes need to forge partnerships and combine forces to jointly address the biggest of challenges. Similarly for enterprises, sys admins should partner with an IT vendor that not only modernises the IT infrastructure, but also provides solutions that are highly available. This is because not all organisations have the technical and financial bandwidth to keep pace with technological evolution.
- Predict:What truly separates a superhero from others is his or her ability to have complete foresight into existing and potential challenges. Likewise, sys admins can’t merely rely on past history of system performance and draw patterns for future outcomes. For example: in the event of a disaster, how quickly the IT team can get the business up and running again will eventually define IT's ability to mitigate business risk. Anticipating scenarios and developing potential solutions is key to making businesses available.
- Plan: Just having high performance in the arsenal is not enough, planning is more important to harness the true potential. Similarly, to make business available, planning is critical to make the best use of existing physical infrastructure and leverage the flexibility of the virtual environment. Furthermore, planning decisions in isolation can lead to larger business impact, as every occurrence is a link in the chain of larger events. Digital transformation demands enterprises to stay nimble and automate critical processes like backup, and disaster recovery definitely helps a sys admin in having greater control over business availability.
- Perform: A superhero's ability to understand the situation and deliver the exact solution required is a true testimony of performance. Similarly, bridging the gap between what users expect and IT’s ability to deliver on business needs in the virtual environment is a true success factor for a sys admin. This enables decision-makers to focus on core competencies and worry less about the nuts and bolts of IT. Leveraging the best of physical and virtual environments ensures optimum usage of IT resources, while delivering availability for modern enterprises.
With increasing competitive pressure and changing business dynamics, the biggest risk for a sys admin is the failure to prepare IT infrastructure for change. As the pace of technology evolution is rapid, sys admins need to be one step ahead to tackle challenges and modernise IT for an agile enterprise. Armed with cutting-edge technologies, a sys admin is best poised to use the strength of each technology vendor to improve business performance and purely focus on their core competencies. While not all superheroes are at the forefront and bag the limelight for their efforts, a sys admin equipped with availability solutions will enable digital transformation and drive profitability.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)