System administrator

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A system administrator (from latin administrare "manage"; also administrator or (informally) Admin , Sysadmin , network administrator , network manager , network administrator , network manager , system manager , system administrators , system administrators , system operator , operator or SYSOP (from " Sys tem op called erator")) manages computer systems on the basis of extensive access rights to the system.

System administrators plan, install, configure and maintain the information technology infrastructure (IT infrastructure) of a company or other organizations. As operators, they carry out the manual activities required for the ongoing operation of the computer systems.

The IT infrastructure in many companies, organizations, etc. Ä. the flow of business processes to such an extent that it has become a business-critical factor. For this reason, the smooth functioning of this infrastructure is of great importance.

In addition to servers and workstation computers , the structures in this sense also include the underlying storage systems, networks and telecommunications systems .


In this article, the term system administrator is used as an umbrella term for various areas of responsibility. In the narrower sense, a system administrator only takes care of individual computers - servers, PCs and their use, but not the network or more specific application programs (see focus on operating systems ) .

  • The term network administrator is often used to describe the person whose task it is to plan and maintain networks, as well as to configure routers, switches and other network components. With this definition, a network administrator does not care about the servers or PCs themselves, but only about the communication paths between these computers (see focus: networks / infrastructure ) .
  • A network administrator is also defined when a system administrator not only takes care of individual computers, but also provides individual services for a network on a server. The system administrator covers several areas but mainly the maintenance of computers.


There are currently no generally recognized, formal training and examination certificates required to work as a system administrator. The knowledge required from many sub-areas is taught in its full breadth and in a suitable form at very few educational institutions. The majority of those who work in this area are currently lateral entrants whose skills and knowledge are based on further training in daily professional life (experience). In practice, it has been shown that system administrators have completed the following training courses and courses in particular:

In addition, the manufacturers of network-compatible operating systems and hardware offer subject-specific courses with manufacturer certificates:

In addition, there is the option of having the experience and skills acquired in professional practice confirmed, regardless of manufacturer, within the framework of a personnel certification in accordance with the international standard DIN EN ISO / IEC 17024. The certificate proves the ability to carry out typical work processes as an administrator.


Methodological skills and social characteristics

The following paragraph tries to summarize the essential non-technical characteristics of a system administrator. Some points are a matter of course or are also a prerequisite in other professions, others are particularly characteristic of system administrators.

Systematic and analytical work is important. Several tasks are done at the same time, often under deadline pressure. You should also have the ability to work in a team . Furthermore, effective, precise communication should be carried out in oral and written form, if possible in other languages, but at least in the language used in the organization and in English . Another important skill is to be able to obtain information independently and to be ready for continuous further education . A good system administrator should also have initiative, independence and a sense of responsibility and be ready to take on responsibility. He should also have the ability to assess the risk of his own actions. In order to be able to present a successful result, it is very important that he has a strong will to find solutions to problems and to test them . It is also important that the system administrator concentrates on his work calmly, even under tight deadlines, and that work that has already started is completed.

The system administrator must have an understanding of business administration and the ability to evaluate the technology while taking costs into account. He should also be able to prioritize tasks in terms of the organization. The aim of a system administrator should be efficient operation according to the KISS principle . The result should be a minimized expenditure of time and stable, maintainable systems. In view of the fact that operational IT systems can only be taken offline for maintenance and upkeep at the weekend, if at all, precise planning of the implementation structure of new systems, patch management, relocation or maintenance of the systems is decisive. The consideration of the operating environment is not insignificant; For example, companies whose systems mainly work on working days in contrast to critical systems, for example in clinics, which have to maintain their data permanently and over long periods of time and where a failure can be life-critical, for example.

Technical skills

A system administrator is expected to have a basic understanding or mastery of general concepts in the IT environment. These include:

A system administrator should be able to administer systems on the basis of these concepts, if necessary on different platforms with the appropriate tools.

Field of activity

The field of activity of a system administrator includes B .:

  • Administration of servers and workstations
  • Adjustment, measurement and setting of server systems
  • Support and advice for operators or advanced users, support, close cooperation with the data center management, IT management (regarding the use of information technology)
  • Administration of user rights
  • Administration of storage systems, data backup and data recovery
  • Hardware and software maintenance
  • Network monitoring and planning
  • Software distribution

Not every administrator needs knowledge of every part of the information technology infrastructure. Depending on the size of the organization and the complexity of the IT structures, there are specializations with different focuses. Many system administrators have several of these priorities in their duties.

Focus on operating systems

A system administrator with a focus on operating systems mainly takes care of the administration and installation of workstation and server systems, especially using the unattended mode .

Tasks include user support and user administration, management, expansion and renewal of hardware and software, backup and recovery , integration of systems into the network, performance measurement and adaptation depending on the purpose.

Focus on storage systems

A system administrator with a focus on storage systems (also: storage ) deals with the configuration and administration of the central storage infrastructure ( e.g. storage area network ). Storage space is managed in central pools, access rights must be controlled. An important task is the configuration and management of central backup solutions .

Focus: (Relational) databases

A system administrator with a focus on databases ( database administrator or DBA for short) takes care of the installation, administration and coordination of relational databases . Also, backup and recovery of databases are the responsibility of.

Focus: web server / mail systems

System administrators with a focus on web servers and / or mail systems configure and administer mail and groupware systems and web servers .

Focus: networks / infrastructure

System administrators with a focus on networks / infrastructure deal with the network structure : planning and setting up the physical structure, monitoring and configuration of network components, planning and administration of infrastructure servers and directory services ( e.g. DNS , DHCP , LDAP ), planning and administration of company-wide print services .

Aids (tools)

The system administrator can use numerous administration programs and other tools, such as sniffers , to make his work easier.

See also

Web links

Commons : System administrators  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Another award for Cert-IT - Article by Cert-IT , from November 22, 2011