Is the sysadmin dead?

September 12, 2016 bentannahill

With cloud-based systems and modern Linux system administration tools, developers can launch a new server (or many) with a click and call themselves DevOps.

Some systems management tools such as Red Hat Satellite Server, Nagios and Puppet simplify server configuration. For most organisations, the days of hand configuration for each server for a specific role are past.

A Standard Operating Environment (SOE) and a suitable Management Platform (SOEMP) is essential to prevent costly server proliferation and maintain version control. In a complex environment, several different SOEs will be needed for different tasks.

Is the Sysadmin function dead? No, however, it’s future has never been brighter with Cloud. The function is just scaled differently and is moving towards systems development and engineering. The new SysAdmin function and this is how we can help with rebirth of skills.

Because there is more to good information systems management than launching servers to deal with ad hoc workloads. Someone has to create each SOE, keep it up to date and implement it. A skilled SysAdmin who really understands server configuration and is able to use the latest Systems management tools can be a vital part of a DevOps team.

Being involved with development, the former Sysadmin gains a better understanding of where the organisation's IT requirement is heading and is able to prepare for operational changes that will be needed to support future projects.

Rather than responding to demands from the developers as in the past, the former Sysadmin will be fully involved in developing the system, designing and engineering it. Planning, not reacting. This change is reflected in job titles; increasingly, we are seeing System Engineers being advertised - not Sysadmins.

Employees always worry about change. Developing your career is good up to a point but many people are comfortable doing what they do and genuinely fear that they may not be able to adapt.

Becoming part of a DevOps team, working closely with developers when not a skilled coder oneself, getting involved with the organisation's core business and understanding the drivers for development means there's a lot to take on.

The job will change. The title will change. The former Sysadmin will have new colleagues and work in a different way. They will acquire new skills but the mindset and range of abilities that made a good Sysadmin are still needed. Clear thinking, attention to detail, seeing the bigger picture, spotting the unintended consequence before it bites. Systems administration relies on those.

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