Computing Profession

Sysadmin Day Goes Global

SysAdmin Day

It’s not unusual for system administrators to spend long days in the office—and even wind up sleeping in them overnight. Or get paged at 2 A.M. or on Thanksgiving after a server crashes.

Ted Kekatos knows the life of a system administrator all too well. He has worked as one for the greater part of three decades. A dozen years ago, after viewing a Hewlett-Packard print ad that showed a systems administrator sitting in a cube and people bringing him fruit baskets and flowers, he decided to create SysAdmin Day as a way for system administrators to feel the love. Not long afterward, a company picnic became SysAdmin Day 1.0.

Fast forward to 2011, and the concept has gone global and its popularity is exploding. A Web site devoted to SysAdmin Day, aptly named SysAdminDay, now chronicles the annual event, which is held the last Friday of July (it peaks at about 200,000 page views on the day of the event). “More and more people are getting involved,” says Kekatos. The list includes hundreds of large companies, a group in Russia that has organized a SysAdmin Day festival (complete with live music, beer, laptops and Wi-Fi) and various Web sites that have created an assortment of contests and promotions.

For example, the ThinkGeek Web site holds a pageant and crowns a SysQueen and a SysKing every year based on essays recounting system administrator success stories. Winners receive a $500 shopping spree. IT services firm SpiceWorks holds a company celebration every year. And enterprise video streaming service Qumu commissioned “Gears of War” video art director and filmmaker Jerry O’Flaherty to create a science-fiction short film highlighting the SysAdmin as the hero. It also recently held a contest to find a system administrator to star in a second film. The winner will be flown to Hollywood for the video shoot.

Comedian Wes Borg has even written a song and performed a routine about help desks and system administrators.

Now there’s a move on to make SysAdmin Day a recognized holiday, akin to administrative professionals day (formerly Secretary’s Day) and get Hallmark to offer a greeting card for the day. For Kekatos, the event—which has far exceeded his expectations—continues to compute. Presently, 30 international chapters exist, including groups in Chile, Iran, Poland, Russia and Sweden.

Kekatos continues to have fun with the concept. “I love reading all the messages and seeing all the people and groups celebrating,” he says. “The last Friday in July seemed like a good day to have a company party with ice cream and cake so that is the day I picked as the official day. It’s still a reason to have some cake and ice cream.”


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