CBT Nuggets

Intro to Systems Administration

by Dan
Intro to Systems Administration picture: A
Published on March 4, 2019

The Systems Administrator is an interesting creature who hunts at night and sleeps during the day…

No, that's not right, but the sysadmin is every bit as cool as that sweet leopard above.

I started my career as a Systems Administrator. It was probably the most fun I've ever had in a job. I felt like a magician, and got to see the good side of people. It's amazing how appreciative a person is when they feel trapped and lost and someone can quickly bring them back to their comfort zone. — Dan Charbonneau, CEO and owner, CBT Nuggets

Imagine the ideal scenario for making a co-worker happy. There is an issue that is causing stress and anxiety, exaggerated by the lack of understanding and control of the source of the problem. This issue is something you can diagnose and fix quickly and easily. Expectations are very low that you'll be able to do it, due to the otherworldly nature of this pro… "what's that? It's fixed?" Oh my goodness! You're my hero! Add to that the fact that you're going to make sure to put measures in place so it never happens again, and you are now feeling the full power of being a Systems Administrator.

Many developers, cybersecurity professionals, Information Architects, CIOs, CTOs, high-end network engineers, (insert any IT job here) started as Systems Administrators. It's a great place to start, and it's a great place to be for an entire career if that's what you choose.

The training offered here is available free of charge. It's targeted to the person that is smart and ambitious but does not yet have experience in IT. You may have tried to learn it in the past and got discouraged, or you may not have even considered a career in IT because "it's for people way smarter than me". After you watch these videos, we want you to realize how smart and capable you are, and if you choose to have a career in IT, we want you to realize that not only can you do it, but we'll be with you every step of the way.

Video 1: Introduction (4:05)

Garth uses his favorite movie to welcome you to an amazing career.

• • •

Video 2: Roles and Responsibilities (6:56)

No matter what your specialty, or where your interests are if you want a career in IT, systems administration is a great place to start. It provides learning opportunities every day. There are accounts to create, servers to install, troubleshooting, monitoring, analyzing, backing up, restoring, wishing you had backed up, embarrassed that you can't restore because you forgot to backup. There are VPNs to configure and virtualization to play with, learn about, and then deploy. There are firewalls to monitor and manage. There are databases, spreadsheets, and diagrams to create. There's wireless devices, remote workers, cameras, phones, tablets, and video conferencing. There are printers to configure. There are network connections to make, patch cords to plug in, equipment to buy, play with, learn about and then deploy. There are wires to run through the ceiling, and ports to punch down into the wall. The list of potential duties goes on and on and on. The smaller the company, the fewer the IT staff, the more diverse your duties will be. The bigger the company, the bigger the IT staff, the more you'll be able to specialize and refine your skills in the area you're most passionate.

• • •

Video 3: Certifications and Exams (7:15)

IT certifications provide a valuable service to businesses everywhere. When hiring an IT professional, it's hard to determine if the person is qualified, especially if the hiring manager is not an IT professional. Certification is useful for that business to know that you are qualified, that your knowledge level is at least at the minimum level for you to be functional and successful. While valuable, you should see the certification as a foot in the door rather than an ultimate goal. Once you get that first job or a new job, that's where you can prove yourself and continue to increase your value to make yourself indispensable. Garth shows you here what certifications are available and which are most popular.

• • •

Video 4: Devices and Technologies (6:40)

Servers are computers that provide a resource, over the network, to users, to other servers, or to programs, services, etc. Some servers provide a shared document or set of documents shared across the Internet (web servers). Some servers provide for central management of printers. When our fellow network users in the office want to print a document, they click print and select the printer that is closest to their desk. They don't have to think about the printer server, the management of it, the connectivity to it, etc. The Systems Administrator installs, configures, monitors, and fixes if necessary, that print server. Garth explains the various different servers a systems administrator may come across. Don't worry if any of these terms and technologies are foreign to you. This video is intended to expose you to concepts so that later when you learn about them, you'll have a frame of reference to refer back to.

• • •

Video 5: Storage Technologies (6:32)

Where a person stores data needs to be carefully planned so you can manage who else can access it, so you can back it up and then restore it if necessary, so you can make sure access to it is fast, so you can make sure it can be accessed from multiple devices, etc. What you understand about storage devices will help you in your day to day sysadmin duties. Garth gives you a good overview of the different storage technologies you'll be learning about.

• • •

Video 6: Networking Concepts (9:01)

Networking is fundamental to everything in IT. Can you think of a device you've used in the past month that wasn't connected to something? Garth talks about networking here. Remember, exposure is the key. Watch with the mindset of being excited about the cool stuff you're going to be able to do someday.

• • •

Video 7: IT Security aka Cybersecurity (5:32)

Cybersecurity is a big deal. In smaller organizations, it's the Systems Administrator's responsibility. In larger organizations, many people will share cybersecurity duties. Think of IT security as the police force of the company's electronic resources. The cybersecurity staff is there to protect and serve. Your knowledge in this area makes you a corporate hero. Garth gives a great overview here. If you think you may want to pursue a career in cybersecurity, We have free training from Keith Barker to get you started.

• • •

Video 8: IT Disasters (5:11)

$#!& happens. As an IT professional, you'll be a metaphorical firefighter. You'll spend part of your time fighting fires, and part of your time implementing fire prevention measures. The more of one you do, the less of the other you'll do. It goes both ways, the more prevention, the fewer fires, the more fires, the less time to implement prevention. Garth gets passionate about disasters in this one. You're going to enjoy it.

• • •

Video 9: Why Learn About Virtualization? (5:56)

Virtualization is a big deal, a really big deal. It dramatically changed IT and our use of the Internet. Virtualization, in one sense, refers to our ability to separate the software that is a computer (applications, operating systems, services) from the hardware that is a computer (motherboard, RAM, hard disk). By separating, or virtualizing, the hardware, one "box of electronic guts" can be the engine that runs 7 different "computers" as we know and interact with them. Amazon took that idea one step further and used "electronic guts" from lots of different machines, and consolidated them into one big virtualized "box of guts" where several "virtual computers" (software/OS/services) could be created and used. This is a service they call AWS and was the birth of the "cloud" for private business use. Now there are many ways to create virtual resources, and many providers offering virtualization resources for businesses to use. The concept of virtualization is easier to grasp if you just walk through the steps of creating one. Garth does just that in this video.

• • •

Video 10: Systems Admin in the Real World (10:29)

It's all about problem-solving. Just like what we talked about with the disaster video earlier on this page, part of your time will be spent fighting fires, and part implementing prevention measures. Either way, you're solving problems, proactively, or reactively. Sometimes the most fun is the reactive, the "firefighting". A systems administrator is a detective. In this video, Garth develops a scenario and walks you through what a sysadmin would do. If you start to feel overwhelmed, remember this is just exposure, you're not expected to know or understand anything at this point.

• • •

Video 11: How to Get Started (3:38)

Time to let the rubber hit the road. If you're inspired and motivated, commit to yourself that you can and will learn what it takes to be a Systems Administrator. If you're uncertain, check out the other Intro to IT training offered for free on Medium to get exposure to a different career path.

• • •

Here's what you should do next:

  • Validate what you learned today by taking the 11-question Intro to Systems Administration quiz. There's one question from each video. Pay close attention. Pass the quiz to earn your certificate of completion. The quiz isn't timed, so you can even go back to the videos and review.

  • Sign up at CBT Nuggets for a monthly subscription. The first week is free.

  • Commit to training for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. You'll be surprised what you can learn in 10 hours per month.


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