How to Know When You Need a Sysadmin

On any given weekday, how busy is your work schedule? Between your morning routine, lunch meetings, and closing time, how often do you even have a few minutes to spare to think about (let alone manage) your data systems?

If the answer is, “Not much,” it may be time to consider hiring or contracting with a system administrator.

What does a sysadmin do?

System administrators are typically tasked with installing, supporting, and maintaining an organization’s server infrastructure and operations. It’s no exaggeration to say that any company that relies on the accessibility of its data or the performance of its website for its success is also equally dependent on the people who handle its servers.

Unless the following items are on your daily to-do list (and you’re confident in your ability to complete them), you may not be the person for the job:

  • Continually monitor system performance?
  • Create file systems?
  • Install and update necessary software?
  • Monitor network communication?
  • Implement the policies for the use of the computer system and network?
  • Set up rigid security policies for users (e.g. firewalls and intrusion detection systems)?
  • Internal wiki documentation of processes and infrastructure specs?
  • Password and identity management?
  • Monitor system performance?
  • Create and maintain backup and recovery processes and policy?
  • Perform system updates?
  • Purchase and inventory replacement hardware?
  • Perform emergency hardware replacement in case of failure?

Attempting to fill the role of a sysadmin without adequate time or know-how is a disaster waiting to happen. No business owner should be willing to accept the risk of just “getting by.”

The dangers of “getting by”

How are you “getting by” the decision to hire a sysadmin?

These dangerous shortcuts are putting countless of businesses at risk of data and hardware failure, system vulnerabilities, and more:

  • Broom-closet-type server enclosure
  • Misdirected job roles
  • Incomplete or nonexistent processes

Servers in the broom closet
Every organization has to start out somewhere, and this often means its servers are stored in broom closets, offices, and break rooms. The physical vulnerabilities presented by these scenarios will only increase as you grow, which means you’ll only have more to lose should anything go wrong.

A part of these growing pains will include expanding to a more secure enclosure, such as a data center, which also opens the door for contracting sysadmin services to manage and administer your servers.

Misdirected job roles
When you’re running a new business, in addition to wanting to store your servers somewhere cheap, making do with the personnel you have on hand is also a priority. You’ll often be tempted to overload your “IT guy” with sysadmin responsibilities they simply won’t have the experience to handle with confidence.

The disadvantage in this scenario is not only the risk introduced by human error, but your IT guy will have to neglected their true job role as they admin to wear too many hats.

Incomplete or nonexistent backup and security processes
You need someone who is going to create and maintain the backup and security processes that will protect the performance and longevity of your data. How confident are you to design and ensure these processes for your company? This is part of a sysadmin’s job description.

Ready to have a professional sysadmin on your team yet?
Don’t wait until a data breach, hardware failure, or other avoidable disaster to take place and put your company offline before you make the decision to hire a sysadmin. The sooner you can admit that you have neither the time nor know-how to effectively maintain your data systems yourself, the sooner the interests of your company are ensured.


“What is The Role Of the System Administrator?” (August 8, 2014.)