Sys Admins are superheroes of the IT infrastructure of an organization. These are the professionals who design systems that work, monitor and maintain IT infrastructures for performance, gather and assess information to identify and fix potential issues, as well as detect and manage security concerns. The list is almost endless. As jacks of all trades, they do a little bit of everything and end up contributing a lot to everything.


The World Economic Forum has stated that within 5 years, 35% of critical IT Skills will no longer be important. As the world of IT changes around us, Sys Admins are changing and adapting as well. Below are five key attributes successful Sys Admins need as the future of IT approaches.


1) Adaptable

Automation is bringing about rapid change in the world of IT and demands adaption to new skills and requirements. Automation removes the need for manual operations that were once a core part of the skillset of a traditional Sys Admin. The SysAdmin who can adapt, letting go of those things done through automation, can become more essential and more valuable to organizations by focusing on business issues, bring value to the business and not just a maintainer of technology.


2) Business Focused

Data increasingly becomes the life blood for the Digital Business. It is driven by Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud applications and technologies. Organizations are looking for ways to get better insights and find new business models based on it. This requires a business focus from the SysAdmin. Not only do the right technologies have to be in place to protect and manage the data, but more time needs to be spent by the Sys Admin focused on those that want the data and how to best deliver it.


3) Organized and Prioritized

Companies are introducing more and more new applications that need to be prioritized. Examples include banks increasingly driving their customer contact through mobile banking applications, purchases made through online portals, and taxi’s booked and tracked through apps on phones. Having a framework to understand what is important and what is urgent is key. There is a difference between what is urgent and what is important. While a mobile app in the past may have been important to think about, if it is offline, it now becomes urgent in addition to being important. Understanding this helps you to determine what problems you deal with first.


4) Open Minded

Douglas Adam’s once wrote, “every piece of technology that exists in the world when you’re born is normal, every piece of technology that comes along before you’re 30 is an opportunity and every piece of technology that comes along after you’re 30 will bring about the end of the world and must be completely rejected“. Just because you don’t perceive the value of something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have value. Keeping an open mind is key to finding new Insights or even new business models.


5) Inventive

Great SysAdmins look for new ways to perform tasks. Using Test and Development activities as an example, we know that organizations often want to do them more rapidly and with more iterations. Maybe today you have systems in place to support this with a level of speed that has been sufficient. An inventive SysAdmin may look at AWS, Azure or another of the Hyperscale providers to offload this process. It could result in potentially massive cost savings and an increase in the speed and opportunity that you simply couldn’t get from your own systems.


The Business Moment

To the SysAdmins out there reading this, this is your ‘Business Moment’. The changing IT landscape means you have the ability to think in a way that could transform your business. Many companies miss it because they don’t have the tools and technologies in place to try out enough of the good ideas. You have, without anybody giving you permission, a role that you’ve inherited to literally have an impact on your business unlike anything that you’ve ever had the opportunity to in the past. You can help your company find it’s ‘Business Moment’, it’s moon shot opportunity because you’ve put in place all of the right systems to make it happen.


July 29th, SysAdmin Day and I raise a glass to every single one of you.


Matt Watts

Matt Watts works closely with the Office of the CTO, Product Operations and Marketing teams at NetApp, but spends most of his time at events or with businesses articulating NetApp’s Strategy and the business value of IT. He has over 25 years of IT experience and has been with NetApp for the last 12 years.

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