Geek Speak

2 Posts authored by: james_honey

Ten years ago IT was a very different space for SysAdmins than it is now, and I too remember the day when server sprawl needed wrangling (hello virtualization), work silos were everywhere (what is that storage guy's name again?), and datacenter space was in short supply (maybe something's never change).


As I read through comments on the “Gearing up for SysAdmin Day 2015: The Ever-changing role of the System Administrator” post, some key skills for SysAdmins come to mind that are going to be critical in the future.


Business understanding


Gone are the days where SysAdmins sat in their lair and controlled their domain from behind a monitor and phone. There are times where the business is looking to the SysAdmin to help the company move forward and grow. SysAdmins today should look to have a seat at the table when the company is planning long-term business strategy. Making sure business planning is coupled with IT planning will ensure long-term success. In order to do this, SysAdmins should be able to articulate how IT affects the company's business and bring new ideas and technologies to the table. Understanding new technologies lead to the next point around learning.


Learning new skills and technology is critical


Any SysAdmin worth their weight in gold keeps a constant eye on technology advances in the industry. Now we all know keeping an eye and actually learning about new technology are two different things. However, as technology advances and changes keep increasing, SysAdmins need to recognize that ongoing learning is critical. Learning how to do things easier and helping the business run more efficient is a key thing for all SysAdmins, no matter their experience. For years when IT learning would come up, leadership would tune out, that cannot be the case anymore. SysAdmins have to be a champion of change and make sure they pick up the skills needed to help their company.


Being purposeful


Finally, SysAdmins need to be purposeful.  In an ever changing world, having a direction is critical to keep up (let alone staying ahead). From new technologies, to new ways of doing things (or going back to an old way), to changing business requirementsa SysAdmins world is all about change. Having a clear understanding of where you want to take your IT department, your solutions, and your career is key to long-term success. Here are some questions to help you:


  • Where is the company heading?
  • How can IT play a part in that success?
  • What new technologies can help ensure success?
  • What skills are needed?


As in most roles in business, the SysAdmin role is evolving and changing. Business understanding, learning new skills, and being purposeful are just a few skills needed today and tomorrow. However, these are core skills that can help SysAdmins grow and advance for the long-term. 




*P.S* – Celebrate the small things. You won’t get credit 365 days a year, but there is one day your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed – SysAdmin Day, y’all! It’s this Friday and naturally, we’re pre-gaming with some fun freebies. Come celebrate >>

As a child of the 80's, there are particular songs (like "Danger Zone", "Shout", "No Sleep Till Brooklyn") that really bring me back to the essence of that time period (RIP mullet). There are even times where current events take me back to a specific song. Take today’s "storage market" and all the technologies that are being discussed. Looking at this has me going back to the classic Public Enemy song, "Don't believe the hype…” There is so much "hype" in regard to different technologies that it can be overwhelming to keep up, let alone make a decision on what is right for your company. You also have to manage the pressures of business needs, storage performance needs, data protection, data growth, and resource constraints to just name a few. I might come off pro old-school IT, but I’m not. Ask yourself some of the questions below, and make sure the promise of these new trends makes sense for your business before you jump on the bandwagon.




Hyper-convergence is a software infrastructure solution that combines compute, storage, networking, and virtualization resources in commodity boxes. The promise is integrated technologies that provide a single view for the administrator. This makes it easier for users to deploy, manage, grow, and support their environment because everything is tied together. This is great for quite a few environments, but is it great for "your" environment?  What do your VM workloads look like? Do they all have similar resource requirements or are some VMs more demanding than others? Does your resource needs (CPU, memory, storage, etc...) grow evenly or are some resources growing faster than others? 


If you’re considering a hyper-converged solution, check out this whitepaper: The Hyper-Convergence Effect: Do Management Requirements Change?


Solid State Drives


Solid state drives have been around for decades, but over the last few years have really grown with new technology advances (PCIe/NVMe) and the cost of flash has come down dramatically. The promise of SSD is higher performance, better durability, better cooling, and denser form factors.  This has led to claims that hard drives are dead and SSD (flash) is all that is needed in your data center. Is this right for "your" environment? Do you have a need for high performance across your entire environment?  What is your capacity growth and how does it compare to performance growth? Will your applications take advantage of SSDs? Do you have the budget for flash storage across all applications?


If you are considering making a move to Solid State drives, check out this SolarWinds Whitepaper: How do I know my SQL and Virtual Environments are ready for SSD?


Cloud Storage


For years people have been talking about "the cloud" and whether it’s private or public. For this we will talk public clouds. Over the last couple of years we have seen more businesses adopt cloud into their data storage environment. The promise is allowing companies to access their data anywhere, freeing up IT resources, providing scalability to grow your business, and reducing IT costs to name a few. This has led to the claims of everything going to the cloud and that keeping storage "on premise" is not ideal anymore. For many companies, this might be ideal, but is it ideal for "your" environment? What happens if there is an "outage," whether through the cloud provider or your connection to the cloud? Do you have the bandwidth to support your user’s access from an external location? What cloud provider are you using and are you locked in to that provider? How will you manage your data security and protect against attacks to that data?


These are just a few of the "storage technologies" that are currently being "hyped" in the market and each of them have a place in almost all data centers.  However, just because a new technology solves certain data center problems, does not mean it will solve "your" problems. Understanding your problems and where you want to take your business is the best way to be able to move past the "hype" of a new technology and really see the value that it will provide.


Now, what do you think? Is there too much "hype" in the storage market? What storage technology do you think is being over "hyped"?       

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