In honor of System Administrator Appreciation Day, we sat down with two of our resident IT professionals to get their insights on common IT misconceptions, the lamest IT help requests, and why their roles are arguably the most important in any organization.
Happy Sys Admin Day from our IT pros* to yours!
Question: As an IT professional, what is your role? Do others really “get” what you do?
Karthik: I tell people I'm in IT, and usually people think all a sys admin does is "fix broken computers.” But it’s a bit more than that. My job entails various activities like patching or upgrading operating systems or software, replacing a hardware component, applying a custom solution to change functionality, and installing software applications. We deal with anything from users not being able to open a file to building an entire Cisco UCS cluster overnight, and beyond.
For those who like pictures, this about sums it up:
Adam: As an IT Manager, I typically tell just people I work in IT, but they have no clue what that actually involves.
Q: How did you get into the IT field?
Karthik: During the 1990s, my father was the first person with a computer on our street. Since then, I’ve had an interest in computers and IT. My family owned a shop with a copier, data entry, and other technology services, and I earned my first paycheck at the age of seven by designing an invitation using Aldus Pagemaker when my father wasn’t around. He was impressed, and that feedback only increased my interest in working with computers and IT.
Adam: I had three main interests when I was growing up: money, mechanics, and electronics. I worked in a bank for two years and hated it, so for my next job I fixed cash dispensers --which I greatly enjoyed-- and it just went from there.
Q: An IT pro’s job is seemingly never done. What is the oddest time you’ve gotten a work call?
Karthik: I get calls, texts, and pings 24x7x365 as I support our 24x7 global support center. So, late night calls are a regular occurrence. That said, we usually schedule maintenance over the weekend since that’s the time it will impact the least amount of people.
We are always checking emails and receive calls even while on vacation. I once got a call over the Easter holiday while on a boat and had to connect my laptop and work for two days straight to fix critical issues.
Adam: Having been in IT for over 30 years, I’ve suffered through late night and weekend calls, vacations interrupted by work, and even the random call during a trip to the grocery store.
Q: Why is your job so important?
Karthik: While every department has its own significance, IT manages the entire infrastructure that enables most of the other departments to function efficiently. Infrastructure is the backbone to any company.
Adam: Agreed – without IT support staff to keep it going, a company would simply cease to exist.
Q: You work in IT for a data protection company, so you’re charged with protecting Arcserve’s data – why is data protection so critical?
Karthik: Safeguarding data is of utmost importance to us. Departments reach out to us to protect and backup their data so we can restore it in case of any accidental deletion or data loss due to various hardware and software issues. While data protection is enforced and important from the legal perspective, such as GDPR in the European Union, it is also important to keep all staff, customer, partner information and project work safe from cyber criminals.
Adam: To the IT team, data protection is only a small portion of their responsibilities, but it is of vital importance to all the other departments, including legal, finance, HR, customer satisfaction, and support. Everyone’s data needs to be highly available and secure, thus the need to protect it.
Q: Is ransomware a concern for you? How do you protect Arcserve data against cyber-attacks?
Karthik: Cyber-attacks evolved from targeting end-user devices in the past to sophisticated phishing attacks now. We host user trainings and use firewalls, email gateways, and antivirus applications built within OS, and third-party tools to defend against ransomware.
It is not always easy to protect data – we could have the best firewall in the world, but it is useless if it is not configured well. With the current pandemic situation, telework is the new norm. And, securing the network with users working from various networks, which could be compromised, is a bigger challenge. However, we have been able to keep everything secured.
Adam: Yes, any form of cyber-attack is a concern. No matter how many precautions you take, from firewalls to applications for email security, you cannot protect against everything. Our biggest security risk is between the desk and the chair and that is particularly difficult to defend against.
Q: What is your favorite thing about working in IT?
Karthik: IT presents new challenges every day. We thrive on completely unknown areas and becoming masters in a matter of days. For example, on Monday we may work on fixing SSL errors on an IIS error, and on Tuesday we may shift gears to deploy email gateway systems. The learning is tremendous.
Adam: I enjoy investigating and resolving sticky issues.
Q: What is the lamest IT help request you’ve ever received?
Karthik: I believe there is no lame help request. Most people usually ask for help because they genuinely do not know how to sort their issue. One time I was called urgently into the kitchen because the microwave was broken, and my coworker asked if I could help fix it. While it was not an IT issue, I was able to inform him that the problem was with fuse and he simply needed to replace it, which saved money from purchasing new one.
Honoring IT Pros on System Administrator Appreciation Day
Hats off to all IT professionals from Arcserve – we appreciate the work you do behind the scenes to keep organizations up and running. Enjoy #SysAdminDay!
*Karthik Kumar is Arcserve’s IT and Procurement Manager, and Adam Buchanan is an IT Manager at Arcserve.