System Administrator

What is system administrator ?

           A system administrator, IT systems administrator, systems administrator is a person employed to maintain and operate a computer system and/or network.

        The duties of a system administrator are wide-ranging, and vary widely from one organization to another. Sysadmins are usually charged with installing, supporting and maintaining servers or other computer systems, and planning for and responding to service outages and other problems. Other duties may include scripting or light programming, project management for systems-related projects, supervising or training computer operators, and being the consultant for computer problems beyond the knowledge of technical support staff. To perform his or her job well, a system administrator must demonstrate a blend of technical skills and responsibility.

System Administrator Fields

  • A database administrator (DBA) maintains a database system, and is responsible for the integrity of the data and the efficiency and performance of the system.
  • A network administrator maintains network infrastructure such as switches and routers, and diagnoses problems with these or with the behavior of network-attached computers.
  • A security administrator is a specialist in computer and network security, including the administration of security devices such as firewalls, as well as consulting on general security measures.
  • A web administrator maintains web server services (such as Apache or IIS) that allow for internal or external access to web sites. Tasks include managing multiple sites, administering security, and configuring necessary components and software. Responsibilities may also include software change management.
  • Technical support staff respond to individual users' difficulties with computer systems, provide instructions and sometimes training, and diagnose and solve common problems.
  • A computer operator performs routine maintenance and upkeep, such as changing backup tapes or replacing failed drives in a RAID. Such tasks usually require physical presence in the room with the computer; and while less skilled than sysadmin tasks require a similar level of trust, since the operator has access to possibly sensitive data.
  • A postmaster is the administrator of a mail server.
Duties of a system administrator

A system administrator's responsibilities might include:
  • Analyzing system logs and identifying potential issues with computer systems.
  • Introducing and integrating new technologies into existing data center environments.
  • Performing routine audits of systems and software.
  • Performing backups.
  • Applying operating system updates, patches, and configuration changes.
  • Installing and configuring new hardware and software.
  • Adding, removing, or updating user account information, resetting passwords, etc.
  • Answering technical queries and dealing with often frustrated users.
  • Responsibility for security.
  • Responsibility for documenting the configuration of the system.
  • Troubleshooting any reported problems.
  • System performance tuning.
  • Ensuring that the network infrastructure is up and running.
In smaller organizations, the system administrator can also perform any number of duties elsewhere associated with other fields:

System Administrator privileges

The term "system administrator" may also be used to describe a security privilege which is assigned to a user or users of a specific computer, server, network or other IT System.

The Administrator level of system access permits that user to gain access to, and perform high level configuration features of the system.

This user privilege level is more commonly referred to within a computer or IT system as "administrator" (without the epithet "system"). It may also be called superuser or root.

For example a computer may have a user named "Administrator" or "Root" which has a security level sufficient to install software, or give other users access to the system. Alternatively a user of a system may be assigned to an "Administrators" group, membership of which grants them the same privilege as the Administrator user. These users may be referred to as System Administrators, referring only to the system privilege level, rather than the job function.

For security reasons, the name of an Administrator user or Administrators security group is often changed locally so that it is less easy to guess, in order to reduce system vulnerability to access by hackers.

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