It’s no secret that system administrators — the invisible gears that keep a company moving — can sometimes feel under appreciated.
Laboring in the IT department, these hard-working tech professionals are largely unseen, yet they’re the ones responsible for keeping everything up and running.
When things are working smoothly, they’re too often unnoticed — but when things go wrong, SysAdmins, as they’re known, take the heat. In such an unforgiving world, a little appreciation can go a long way.
It was precisely this dynamic that inspired SysAdmin Day, celebrated on the final Friday in July. Created in 2000 by then-SysAdmin Ted Kekatos, the day has gained quite the following in recent years, with growing observances across the U.S. and even around the world.
Kekatos, who came up with the idea in part to serve as a sort of Administrative Professional’s day for IT employees, still finds himself in awe of how popular the day has become.
“Having started this in 2000, it was relatively easy to get a domain name and set up a website,” he said. “For the first few years, I would send out announcements to people I know, and everyone would get a kick out of it.”
But in the last decade, he said, things have really taken off.
“It’s now big across Europe and India,” he said, “and in Russia it’s become a week-long observance with festivals, drinking and partying.”
Here’s part of the latest post on SysAdDay.com:
Let’s face it, System Administrators get no respect 364 days a year. This is the day that all fellow System Administrators across the globe, will be showered with expensive sports cars and large piles of cash in appreciation of their diligent work. But seriously, we are asking for a nice token gift and some public acknowledgement. It’s the least you could do.
Observances in the U.S. run the gamut from small staff parties to large hosted events and happy hours. In the great American tradition, Kekatos said he’s also seen a number of “SysAdmin Day sales” pop up in recent years.
“Like any holiday, every mattress store and car dealer has a sale, so I don’t mind,” Kekatos said.
While cake and words of gratitude are traditional methods of celebrating the day, Rackspace employees have found a number of other, more creative ways to recognize their IT comrades (that unfortunately don’t include “sports cars and large piles of cash.”).
“We’ve had a dunk tank, with SysAds dunking their managers and senior managers,” said Steffen Heininger, an operations manager with Rackspace Private Cloud who has organized SysAdmin Day celebrations in the past.
“The job itself is really frenetic,” he said. “You’re behind the scenes doing a ton of work. And when you’re doing your job well, you don’t hear about it. You only hear about it when something goes horribly wrong,” he said.
Heininger noted that Racker SysAdmins aren’t just keeping Rackspace up and running, but also the many customers they support.
“Every single day, we’re caring for people’s livelihoods,” he said. “From big enterprise customers to the mom and pop ecommerce sites we run, SysAds are helping keep those lights on, and they do it day in and day out.”
This year, Rackspace SysAdmin celebrations are going global.
“We’ll be holding events in the UK, Austin, at Castle (Rackspace HQ in San Antonio), Somerset, Kansas City, New Jersey, Hong Kong and Australia,” said Crystal Valdez, who is overseeing the planning. “The activities will really vary this year, as will the day of the celebrations, as we want to accommodate different shifts and time zones.”
This year, SysAdmins at Castle will celebrate on July 31 with the infamous dunk tank, along with pizza, beer, games and prizes.
For his part, Kekatos is thrilled that his idea has blossomed into this global day of appreciation for IT employees.
“It’s definitely a thrill,” he said. “I’m an IT consultant and without having to promote it at all, I see articles and announcements about SysAdmin Day across all of the IT-related websites I look at all the time.”
So for all the under-appreciated IT staff out there, please know: your efforts don’t go unnoticed. Tomorrow is your day — enjoy it!