It's SysAdmin Appreciation Day tomorrow (hint: this is a subtle reminder for you to think of a last-minute surprise for your favorite SysAdmin 😉), and we have prepared some content and activities involving the SysAdmin community!

To get started with the celebrations, we wanted to give you a primer on what SysAdmins do – from real SysAdmins! We will publish stories from veteran SysAdmins from the checkmk community. Continue reading to take a peek of what it's like in the exciting field of IT operations!

For starters, we have Andreas, a long-time Checkmk user and active community member. He provides consultation to business customers during the day and helps out other Checkmk users in his free time.

Can you tell us about your work?

In my daily business I'm not the classic SysAdmin. I do consulting business to customers for all the aspects needed to implement or improve their ITSM. This is done in the matters of documentation, monitoring and ticketing. Alongside this I also have one small customer where I perform the classic SysAdmin role. It adds a nice variety to the normal stuff, and it is good in order not to lose sight of the concerns and needs of the normal administrator.

How did you get into the field?

I've now been in the IT business for around 20 years, and I started as a communication electronics engineer (Kommunikationselektroniker) to troubleshoot real hardware problems. Later this first evolved to managing a bigger network of printers (around 1300), and then to some offshore projects in the Middle East. This was also the start of the real monitoring business, which is needed if no one is there to support your systems.

What is something you would love for people outside the IT team stop/start doing?

It would be good if more people could understand that in our complex infrastructures there must be processes defining how to handle problems and requests. If there's a defined procedure, then it isn't there just to annoy the user, but to handle the large number of requests you get.

What keeps you excited about your work?

Every day a new/other environment. You need to adapt your thinking to the customer processes, and must find suitable solutions for them. There, nearly every day you get a new piece of unfamiliar hardware, and you need to find a way to integrate it into the existing monitoring environment. In other cases, you must find a way to document a complex infrastructure, and also have some automation between the systems. As a good example, I have a customer that until last year had a production system of the same age as I work on in IT (DEC Alpha). This could be integrated into their monitoring system with some time and effort.

What do you think people in your field / who want to get into your field should start learning?

The biggest challenge for someone new is what keeps me ‘excited’ about my work; Every day there are things that I haven't seen before. You must be very flexible and not be afraid of contact with an unknown territory.

What would be an ideal gift for you on the SysAdmin Appreciation Day?

If it is something tangible, then some small gimmick like a T-shirt with a nice phrase would be good, or something for my non-existent office. The intangible things are much more subtle, and it is better to have these things in your daily business, and not only on one day a year.