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Rejoice! Sysadmin day is... TODAY. Now get in here and win free stuff

Don't forget to thank your BOFH this Friday

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Sysadmin blog Today, this very Friday, is Sysadmin Day. As a system administrator, I'm naturally biased and think every day should be sysadmin day, but it's nice to know we have at least one day a year set aside for some recognition.

What is really heartening to see is just how much awareness of the day has grown since its inception.

As you might imagine, Sysadmin Day is not exactly an established cultural holiday. Sysadmin Day as it is celebrated today was started in 2000 by sysadmin Ted Kekatos, though various incarnations of it have existed since at least the 1960s. It was Kekatos that managed to bring the many informal celebrations together into one day and convince an ever increasing percentage of the world to set aside the last Friday of July.

I remember first hearing about Sysadmin Day in July 2000; I'd missed the event proper, but was quite happy that it existed. I'd just graduated from high school and everyone in my life was shooing me in the direction of the local computer-science programme. Having just finished up a lifetime's course in schoolyard bullying for being "the nerd" I found the idea that maybe someone might appreciate computer types to be more than a little comforting.

Of course, reality was somewhat different. Sysadmin Day was largely a tongue-in-cheek celebration observed only within the nerdosphere and unheard of by bosses, coworkers and so forth. It took a decade of spreading the word before this became an accepted thing – on a par with Secretaries Day in North America – at most of the workplaces I frequent. In much of the world, there is still a lot of work to do to gain any form of real recognition.

I'm a real boy!

Despite the sometimes uphill battle for notice I still feel that the day adds an air of legitimacy to our craft. Somehow, knowing that millions of people around the world celebrate systems administrators as important contributors to the workforce makes me feel less like we're the new kids on the block and more like we're an actual established profession.

Professional associations have existed in IT for decades. CIPS - Canada's Association of IT Professionals – was founded in 1958 and offers an "Information Systems Professional" designation that is recognized in Canadian law. Legally speaking, obtaining that designation makes a sysadmin a professional no different in the eyes of Canadian law than a doctor, lawyer or certified accountant.

Other countries have similar programmes, though recognition in law varies wildly by country. The Americans have ICCP while the Brits have the British Computer Society.

While legal recognition of the importance of our craft certainly helps, public recognition and acceptance of sysadmins is still often questionable at best. Maybe it's the 16-year-old me still stuck deep down in my psyche, but "happy sysadmin day" once a year makes me feel just that little bit more normal.

Party hard, chat to fellow sysadmins

Growing mainstream acceptance of Sysadmin Day has led to an increased number of celebrations the world over. More companies than I can keep track of now either capitalise on the event for marketing, genuinely try to give something back to the sysadmin community, or both.

I've put together a webinar with prizes for the sysadmins who can come up with the best question to stump our panel of "flash in the enterprise" experts. This is happening today (Friday) at 1.30pm Mountain Daylight Time (GMT -6) – sign up here – and we've even had a new company ServerAssist toss five 20-server licensing packs into the prize pool.

Sysadmins, whether you are participating in any of the many contests, promotions or what-have-you that litter Sysadmin Day or not, I do hope you take the time out to enjoy your day. Ours is a largely thankless job and you deserve at least one day.

For the rest, I hope you've a party planned for your sysadmins. Or that you'll say "happy sysadmin day". At the very least, smile at them and say "hi". Who knows, it might be a rare enough event that something that simple will make their (sysadmin) day. ®

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