SysAdmin Day 2017SysAdmins are the heart of any given business. They manage everything from your network infrastructure all the way down to your printers. In honor of System Administrator Appreciation Day, or SysAdmin Day, we wanted to talk about what makes a great SysAdmin with the focus on data storage and what it takes to succeed in a career as one. You have to be highly technically minded, willing to put up with a pretty intense work schedule, and learn to thrive in a high-pressure environment. Having those traits is a tall order for anyone. But those who truly excel as storage admins bring a few other qualities to the table. So what are the traits that truly make a great Storage Admin?

1. Attention to Detail

If you’re going to make it as a storage admin, precision and attention to detail is critical. By doing things right the first time and not having to go back and redo them later, you make everyone else’s job easier. And a major part of attention to detail is a thorough understanding of your environment. Knowing the systems you're responsible for at a deep level, and understanding how applications are positioned on storage and how they work.

2. Communication Skills

As a storage admin, there will be times (probably several times, honestly) when you to have to work with people who don't understand storage. It can be frustrating to try and communicate highly technical concepts to people without the same level of expertise, but it’s these times that good communication skills are vitally important to accomplishing the end goal.

Having the ability to articulate complex storage concepts to non-experts without getting overly technical or jargony is a skill that will truly set you apart. Many engineers would prefer to stay in their own world, without having to interact with the non-technical side of the house. But if you can bridge that gap and help those outside of a storage-centric world understand storage and what you do, you become someone they can relate to and trust.

3. Being a Mentor

Possibly the biggest thing you can do to insure your own success is to be a mentor to junior engineers on your team. As an admin, you want as many people around you knowing what you know. Some engineers think hoarding their knowledge equates to job security. But they’re wrong. A great storage engineer shares his or her knowledge with everybody in his department, because the more people who know what you know, the easier things will be when the pressure’s on. When you've got multiple heads working on the problem, you're not stuck by yourself, scrambling to get it all done alone.

4. Leadership

A great storage engineer is also a leader. As a leader in the technical side of the house, part of your mission is helping people understand how storage contributes to company’s success. You have to be consistently educating people and bringing them along with you. Think of yourself as a storage evangelist, a bridge between the IT department and the C-level who can show them the light.

Another big part of being a leader is staying proactive in your environment. That means having a comprehensive understanding of your systems and applications and being proactive in running your analyses. Not just letting your storage run, but diving in to really understand. And again, bringing other people on your team along and helping them to do the same thing.

Have You Thanked Your SysAdmin Lately?

System Administrators make doing business possible. If you haven’t done so lately, tell your IT department thank you. For more tips on what it takes to be a great sysadmin and other ways to help your IT staff, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin. And as always, if you have any storage, server, or networking related questions feel free to reach out to one of our in-house experts.