Happy #SysAdminDay – A Sit Down with Our In-House SysAdmin

I have a really great joke about UDP, but you probably wouldn’t get it. . .

Comedic gold that good can only mean one thing: IT’S SYSADMIN DAY! To celebrate, we sat down with our very own Loop1 SysAdmin, @Ben Penney, to learn a little more about him and his integral role in our company.

Q: What exactly is a SysAdmin? In general, what are the responsibilities of a SysAdmin?

BP: The best way to think of a SysAdmin would be a person or team that maintains a company’s day-to-day functionality.

Depending on the company the role could be taking care of severs specifically or certain functions of a network. Usually, there is a team of SysAdmins that take care of different functions: servers, network (switches and routers), help desk and hardware.

Examples of hardware devices SysAdmins maintain:

Servers, VM, switches, routers, firewalls, laptops, desktops, printers, wireless devices, WI-FI networks, conferencing equipment, smart TVs, and much more.

Q: If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be and why?

BP: Bald eagle – They can see things up to two miles away and they look badass

Q: What are the day-to-day functions that SysAdmins perform?

BP: In terms of the day-to-day functions, the role of a SysAdmin is the make sure that each person has what they need to do their job. For our Loop1 team, it’s making sure that everyone has a laptop, the correct applications running on the machine, and making sure that each person has the right permissions to perform their job (access to particular file servers, specific email calendars, use of certain applications, etc).

For Loop1, I take care of the server infrastructure. I make sure that we have the right servers to perform the company’s needs, as well as maintain the servers by keeping them healthy and patched on a regular basis. More importantly, my job as a SysAdmin is to make sure that all servers and systems are up and running so that the company can function. I am responsible for making sure that all company hardware is patched, secure, and ensure that redundancies are in place in case something does fail—and it’s all documented.

Q: Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?

BP: Hunter – no reason I just feel that’s me

Q: Are SysAdmin responsibilities generally the same from company to company, or are there differences?

BP: More so in a large-scale network, having everything well documented is important. So, if something were to happen to a SysAdmin, another person could easily step in and know-how the network functions and not having to waste time figuring out how and where everything in the network is connected.

Another function of a SysAdmin is keeping a record of every machine in the environment. Knowing how old each machine is and when it was patched are key to maintaining the upkeep of the company network, which is most important because it’s the network that employees work in and do their job.

Q: What’s your favorite ’90s jam?

BP: Sublime – Santeria

Q: What part of managing the network are SysAdmins involved with?

BP: In regards to networking, in our instance, we have an internet connection, a firewall that brings the connection in, and switches that distribute that internet connection to multiple systems.

Q: Do SysAdmins have a role in network security?

BP: Security is another function that a SysAdmin role could include. Typically for larger companies, there is a security team making sure that machines and hardware devices are regularly patched. For Loop1, I hold that responsibility as well as implementing programs that enforce security policies that help reduce security risks that would be detrimental to the company network.

Some of the programs SysAdmins use to enforce security policies could be security training for employees, fake phishing campaigns, social engineering tests, or just leaving a USB outside the office and see who picks it up and uses it. But, these are just high-level examples of what can be done. There is a lot more than can be done by SysAdmins to help keep a company network secure.

Q: You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

BP: Blue streak – because I like the color blue and the movie

Q: Favorite Super Hero?

BP: Chuck Norris

Q: Is there anything you would want others to understand about the roles and responsibilities of SysAmdin beyond just, oh SysAmdin the IT person who fixes the printer and the computers when it breaks?

BP: My advice for employees at any company would be to learn more about the environment they are working in. No matter what position your job is, you will have a computer to use.

Employees having some basic knowledge about the computer you use on a day-to-day basis can save a lot of time. When a member of the IT team comes by to fix your machine, take a moment to learn about what caused the issue and perform your work in a more efficient manner.

So there you have it, folks – a glimpse into the life of the man that keeps our systems and networks running so the rest of us can do the things that we do best! Thank you for being our IT Bald Eagle! Cheers to you, Ben Penney, and Happy SysAdmin Day!