What is a systems administrator?

I’ve seen a few topics recently where people seem to misunderstand what a systems administrator is. The cause for this is likely due to a combination of factors including HR job classifications, some misunderstandings, and also a simple lack of other terms to use. Here’s my definition:

Systems Administration requires that you administer a group of interconnected objects, i.e. a system. One the important components of a modern system is the network, something that actual systems administrators know about. This does not mean that they are experts on each system component, but they are familiar with the components and can perform basic and some intermediate troubleshooting without requiring assistance.

In many cases, it appears that what people are talking about is actually a server administrator, maybe even just a computer operator. If we had an IT union, the only thing I’d want from them is to prevent people (and HR!) from misrepresenting their actual responsibilities.

Is that a good definition of systems administration, and are there better terms we can use? What do you think?

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