In the summer of 2000 – July 28th to be precise – SysAdmin Ted Kekatos announced Systems Administrator (SysAdmin) Appreciation Day, celebrated this year on Friday, July 30, 2021. In fact, the last Friday of July every year is SysAdmin Appreciation Day. (Next year it’ll be July 26, 2022)
Kekatos knew the trials and tribulations of SysAdmins, who instead of being thanked and praised for their tireless and effective efforts, suffer complaints and endless requests. Maybe for one day, just one day, these dedicated IT pros could be thanked – even lauded. Would that be so wrong? We reckon not, as this year SysAdmin Day turns 22 and is more popular than ever.
Problems faced by network IT pros over two decades are not all that much different today. Looking for the source of network outages, performance degradation, DNS errors, frozen servers – you know the routine. And staying ahead of problems is just as vital – ensuring configurations are done right, upgrading areas of the network that are notoriously slow or problem-prone, watching applications to spot issues before they turn into big problems users are sure to complain about.
In the Beginning of Sysadmin Day
So where did the idea for SysAdmin Day come from? It seems that Kekatos was reading a computer magazine (remember those?) with an HP ad celebrating how a SysAdmin was given a gift basket and flowers – just for installing new printers. Dang if Kekatos hadn’t just done the same thing with the exact same printers. But there were no flowers or gifts for Kekatos, who remained a totally unsung IT hero.
That was it. Kekatos just had to create a special idea to honor himself – and his SysAdmin peers.
What is a special quasi-holiday – especially one related to IT – without a website? That is why Kekatos launched the SysAdmin Day site where he explained what it is was all about. “What exactly is SysAdmin Day? Oh, it is only the single greatest 24 hours on the planet… and pretty much the most important holiday of the year. It’s also the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to the heroic men and women who, come rain or shine, prevent disasters, keep IT secure and put out tech fires left and right,” an obviously excited Kekatos enthused.
There are plenty of reasons to thank your SysAdmins who keep your applications, devices, and networks running smoothly. “Your network is secure, your computer is up and running, and your printer is jam-free. Why? Because you’ve got an awesome SysAdmin (or maybe a whole IT department) keeping your business up and running. So say IT loud; say IT proud …,” Kekatos said.
Ways to Say Thanks
You can see that Kekatos has a clear sense of humor, and as serious as a SysAdmin’s job is, it can be celebrated with a bit of levity. That’s why the SysAdmin Day website has some decidedly silly and rather satirical things folks could do to improve an admin’s life. Of course, being satirical, all these items make an admin’s day far worse.
In this list, admins are referred to as Ted, not coincidently the first name of the SysAdmin Day creator. Here are just a few samples, with more available on the website:
- “Make sure to save all your MP3 files on your network drive. No sense in wasting valuable space on your local drive! Plus, Ted loves browsing through 100+ GB of music files while he backs up the servers.
- Play with all the wires you can find. If you cannot find enough, open something up to expose them. After you have finished, and nothing works anymore, put it all back together and call Ted.
- Deny that you touched anything and that it was working perfectly only five minutes ago. Ted just loves a good mystery. For added effect, you can keep looking over his shoulder and ask what each wire is for.
- Never write down error messages. Just click OK, or restart your computer. Ted likes to guess what the error message was.
- If you get an EXE file in an email attachment, open it immediately. Ted likes to make sure the anti-virus software is working properly.
- When Ted sends you an email marked as “Highly Important” or “Action Required”, delete it at once. He’s probably just testing some new-fangled email software.
- When you have Ted on the phone walking you through changing a setting on your PC, read the newspaper. Ted doesn’t actually mean for you to DO anything. He just loves to hear himself talk.
- When your company offers training on an upcoming OS upgrade, don’t bother to sign up. Ted will be there to hold your hand when the time comes.”
Ways to Really Say Thanks
Last year, Progress offered some tips more helpful than silly in our SysAdmin Day 2020 blog.
- Reboot your computer before approaching the help desk. It's become a meme, but it's true, often the first step in fixing an issue is to reboot the machine. So why not try that yourself before creating a ticket? Save yourself, and your Sysadmin a little time and effort. What’s not to appreciate about that?
- Don’t attempt to open a trouble ticket in person. There are lots of things you can say when walking past one of your SysAdmins. "Hello" and "How are you?" are favorites of mine. But if your only in-person interaction with your Sysadmin is to complain about issues, you may find yourself being avoided. Not only do Sysadmins appreciate manners like the rest of us, but they also appreciate the process. So next time, say hello, then open a ticket.
- Strike up a conversation. As a sysadmin, it can be easy to feel isolated from the rest of the business. Often, they're cordoned away near the server room, only emerging when there's a problem to fix. A simple conversation can go a long way towards breaking that sense of isolation.
- Stick to the Security Policy. We get it, security can be a pain. Security policies slow everything down—why send that file through secure file transfer when you can put it on DropBox in half the time? Well, cumbersome as security policies can be, they exist for a reason, so the next time you want to find a workaround—don't. Save your sysadmin (and yourself) the trouble, and do it right.
- Spare your SysAdmin from a BYOD headache. Connecting to the network with a personal device? That shouldn't be a problem on most networks, but it's still best to let IT know what kind of personal devices you use on the company network.
- Don't bother them on their day off. Depending on their level of responsibility, your sysadmin may be "always on-call," but that doesn't mean you should bother them with minor requests on their day off if you can help it. If your network is down, go ahead, but extracting pictures of your kids from a crashed laptop is not mission-critical.
- If something's wrong, let them know! On the flip side, you'd be surprised how many users simply let major issues slide and live with it because they don't want to bother their IT team. If something is seriously wrong, and hampering your workflow, let your SysAdmin know! Chances are it's a symptom of a larger problem, and they'll be happy to know it.
- Clean up after yourself. Purge your email - junk, sent, and deleted mail, large attachments, and extensive email threads can take up a lot of space. If you really want to blow away your SysAdmin, start cleaning house on your shared servers. Nothing says “thank you” better than freeing up space on the network.
- Buy the IT team lunch. Really want to show your appreciation on sysadmin day? Gather the team up for lunch, or ice cream this afternoon. They're going to love you, I guarantee it. Nothing says "thank you" like a pizza.
- Just say thanks! Being a SysAdmin can be a lonely and thankless job because the only time people think about their SysAdmins is when something’s gone wrong. Take a moment when you see them to let them know that the network has been working smoothly all day for you and you appreciate all the work they do to make that happen.
Ways to Really, Really Say Thanks: Did We Mention Gifts?
Kekatos isn’t too proud to begin the service of his fellow SysAdmins. “At this point, you may be thinking, “Great. I get it. My SysAdmin is a rock star. But now what?” Glad you asked! Proper observation of SysAdmin Day includes (but is not limited to):
Cake & Icecream
Words of gratitude
Custom t-shirts celebrating the epic greatness of your SysAdmin
Did I say gifts?
If you are proud to be a SysAdmin, you might enjoy the official (as opposed to unofficial?) Facebook page. And, if you appreciate the humorous side of sysadmin day, you may like this silly little ditty we found on YouTube.