Sage wants users to wise up

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. System administrators are feeling unloved because Australian companies are taking them for granted and they are taking action to redefine their image and address the problem.

And so that business might come to love SAs, as Elizabeth Barrett Browning might have said had she lived in the PC age, to "the level of every day's network need", the System Administrators Guild of Australia (the 'e' has no meaning except to stop the group's acronym being SAG) has launched an education campaign to teach Australian business about the critical role SAs play in today's business world.

"Oh Yeah, they love us when the system is running, but as soon as it goes down who do they call? We feel used," a Sage spokesman told Computerworld.

Seeking to be recognised for their specialised skills, a Sage spokesperson admits SAs are eccentric in a "semi-social sense", but claims they are system policeman, doctor and fireman all combined into one.

"It is a role that is often taken for granted and yet is it the one in a company that is hardest to fill," he said.

It is not the hardware or software that is the most critical part of an IT system, it is the system administrator, the dude in the unusual leather vest who could turn out to be your best friend.

"They admit they are eccentric, but fortunately they also have a good sense of humour," the spokesperson said.

"They certainly have a style of their own, but remember they are more than someone who fixes your computer; they are a company's biggest asset. What would you do if they weren't there?"

Sage-Au vice president Simon Woodhead said adding more professional services for members is also a priority. Mentoring is also available, he said.

A code of ethics has been developed and steps are being taken to set industry standards such as certification.

"There is no degree in system administration, but we want to raise industry professionalism and gain greater recognition [for members' skills]; this includes closing the gap between the decision makers, cheque writers and techies within an organisation," he said.

This is the primary reason for the Sage-Au (www.sage-au.org.au) education campaign: to advance the profession and educate people on the business side of companies.

Sage lists job opportunities and information about new software and bug fixes on its Web site, and has a mailing list and discussion forum for members. The group's 10th annual conference will be held in August in Melbourne.

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