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How To Appreciate Your Sysadmin

July 28, 2022

As some readers may know, July 29th is System Administrator Appreciation Day.  As a recently recovering sysadmin myself, I wanted to take the opportunity to recognize my former peers for their ongoing efforts and offer tips about how to best appreciate them.

One can start by understanding what they actually do.  People carrying the title “system administrator” carry a broad remit.  My first sysadmin job, having escaped the world of the help desk, was as a general IT guy at a startup, handling desktops, networking, Windows, Unix, Linux, phones, and A/V.  Over the years, I became proficient in all kinds of datacenter technology, adding Solaris, VMware and other virtualization technology, storage (itself a significant sub-domain of knowledge), and a truly enormous list of applications and troubleshooting and diagnostic tools.  I don’t say these things to impress you but to impress upon you that being a sysadmin doesn’t just mean keeping servers running; it means taking care of whole environments, from power and cooling in the datacenter up to the end-user application level and everything in between, often on a shoestring budget.

Beyond technical knowledges, being a sysadmin involves long hours: late nights spent troubleshooting outages and weekends spent patching servers. It means fending off angry users with one hand while fixing the problem they’re angry about with the other.  It means interrupted vacations, interrupted sleep, interrupted anything.  And it also means most often juggling all this under the radar of the rest of the company.  That is until something goes horribly awry, immediately prompting the question from management, “Why didn’t you prevent this?”

Thus, you might be wondering how you can show your appreciation for these stellar humans. Some of the most common gifts are food and drink, and rightly so…it’s a simple way to say thanks, and everyone partakes.  Just remember to ferret out dietary requirements: there’s nothing more embarrassing than the bacon or alcohol blunder!  In truth, what almost every system administrator really needs and wants is one thing: more help.  In some rare cases, numbers may exceed need, but that brief, glorious period of adequate staffing rarely lasts.

Unfortunately, even in the wake of the Great Resignation, getting approval for new IT staff remains challenging.  So, if you’re an IT manager looking to ease the burden on your sysadmin team, you can do the next best thing: get them a Tintri.  I recently had the pleasure of finally meeting many of my colleagues in person, and one of them shared a customer quote with me: “Our Tintri is one of the best employees we ever hired.”  While perhaps hyperbolic, this statement reflects my actual experience: switching from legacy storage technology to Tintri’s purpose-built solution reduced our workload so much that it really felt like we gained a teammate.  And this guy doesn’t call in sick, corner you in the break room to talk politics, or insist on telling you (in excruciating detail) about his fly-fishing trip to Montana.  No offense, Montana.

Happy SAAD, Everyone!

Tom Maddox, Tintri Senior SE

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