What is a Systems Administrator?
A systems administrator is someone who is responsible for the upkeep and regular maintenance of computer systems and often large computer systems such as servers and other distributed computing environments.
In reality a systems administrator, or sysadmin, could be responsible for a really varying range of computer systems in terms of number and also complexity. Sysadmin positions range from the management and upkeep of thousands of enterprise servers within a data center down to the management of 10 PCs and a few servers in a small business environment.
As such, the role of a systems administrator could be monitoring remote system uptime, cable management, hardware replacement right through to server application troubleshooting and network design.
In addition the the vast range of different skill sets that may be required in order to work as a systems administrator, there are also many different platforms or operating systems that a systems administrator may work on and whilst you could – in theory – learn them all, if you are starting out on your path to become a systems administrator its a good idea to decide what platform(s) you would be most comfortable working with as that will determine what path you go down in terms of qualifications and learning strategy.
What technologies should I learn?
When it comes to systems administration, you are most likely going to be administering systems in one of the following categories:
All three of those platforms are very different to work with and whilst the strategies and principals of administration may be very similar, the day to day management of them will be very different.
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In addition to operating environment, there are many different sub-niches within systems administration and so its a good idea to decide where your focus is likely to be – whether thats software, hardware, networking as well as what field you would like to go into whether it be small business, hosting or another more specific area of IT operations.
What qualifications do I need to become a sysadmin?
If you are interested in windows systems administration then the Microsoft MCSA is a great place to start. Its important to understand that the road to qualification in any discipline within IT is a long one, but the great thing about all IT training is that it can be learned and practiced at the same time – all IT courses encourage participants to practice in real world situations or lab environments as they learn so it never gets boring.
Microsofts MCSA or Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate can be customized by adding together various different modules in order to provide you with the training that you need depending on the area you are planning to specialize in.
there are some great places to start with learning the MCSA:
- http://www.pluralsight.com – great paid resource with video training courses.
- http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com – free online training from Microsoft
- Certiology – Free Practice exams for MCSA and lots of other IT courses
If you are more interested in Linux/GNU then the Linux Foundation is the best place to start. They have lots of training material and qualifications available including Linux systems administration.
Regardless of what path you go down when it comes to IT training, its great to get stuck in as soon as possible. Even if you are not sure exactly what you want to do, the best way to find out is to get stuck in. You can find lots of free resources online – training material, virtual labs and online tutorials that allow you to get stuck in at the deep end and start using these platforms that you may one day be administering professionally.
Theres nothing better than getting stuck in to the linux command line or deploying your first virtual machine on Microsoft Hyper-V and there is no better way than to really discover what interests you most which should then lead you on to the right qualification path.