No matter how you interact with the digital world you will always come across a person with the title System Administrator (SA). Looking through many websites and definitions here are some major requirements that are mentioned again and again in every article I have reviewed:
“The responsibilities of the system administrator typically include ensuring the uptime, performance, resources, and security of the computers they manage meets the needs of the users. This includes establishing and managing user accounts.”
Running the system is fine – anyone involved in IT has a responsibility that whatever they administer, develop or design meets the standards required of them. But where do these standards come from? This question leads me onto the next part of the requirements which is that all SAs should make themselves aware of – the users. Whether or not they like it SAs are there because users interact with the systems they are meant to maintain and develop. Too often SAs forget this and start making demands of the user that are unacceptable. Fair enough, the user must pass stringent security criteria to gain access to sensitive data, but that is not be at the behest of the SA – it is because of business rules and because of the law. The SA does not decide on those rules and they have no other input to the rules except to enforce them. They are, above all, administrators of said rules but seem in many circumstances to get too big for their booties.
I have been an Administrator in many of my roles – whether that be systems, databases or otherwise. I ensure that my systems, databases, etc. work the way they should and the users never sees the work I do. This may sometimes backfire, insofar as they will think my job is effortlessly completed and anyone could do my job but that is rarely the case. I have entered many organisations whereby gaining access to restricted systems is a painful and arduous pursuit. I generally have to work with many systems where the administrators have no idea what collaboration means. There is usually no central hub where I can send all of the applications for access to the systems I need to complete my work, meaning I can be chasing my tail for weeks. Why organisations don’t put a procedure in place whereby a newbie can get the correct access centrally and efficiently is beyond me!
As for my experiences with SAs that should not be in that role, that is equally abhorrent. I have requested access to systems where I will be designing and developing solutions to inherent problems and issues found within the organisation that hired me (challenges or opportunities are the words that are bandied about these days). Not giving me access won’t stop me. I usually build what I want on my local machine anyway so that I can guarantee uptime on my own PC. Once built, I will document my solution and once accepted the current system will now have to reflect the changes that I put forward. This means the administrators that refused access now have to adapt and change the existing set-up being used, meaning they have to work harder.
That’s the access issue. What about when your access key (password, card, etc.) is attached to someone else’s profile? This isn’t as rare as you may think. This would mean that I now have access to someone else’s data because the SA did not do the correct job. The only reason that this bothers me is that someone else may be attached to my profile. With the systems that I need to get access to it can be very dangerous for any organisation, both for sensitivity of data and the changes that could be made by someone who may have malicious intent.
SAs should get back to what their job is meant to be about. They are there to maintain and administer a system that is both efficient and effective for the user. All systems are put in place because of these reasons, whether IT based or not.