For me, at least, systems administration is a difficult field to define and talk about--especially succinctly. A couple of excellent blog posts suggest the following definition for Systems Administration: the automation of networks of networks.
Therefore, SREs spend half their time writing code to eliminate what they do the other half of their day. When they "automate themselves out of a job" it is cause for celebration and they get to pick a new project. There are always more projects.
Networks of Networks:
Findings so far suggest that networks of networks pose risks of catastrophic danger that can exceed the risks in isolated systems. A seemingly benign disruption can generate rippling negative effects. Those effects can cost millions of dollars, or even billions, when stock markets crash, half of India loses power or an Icelandic volcano spews ash into the sky, shutting down air travel and overwhelming hotels and rental car companies. In other cases, failure within a network of networks can mean the difference between a minor disease outbreak or a pandemic, a foiled terrorist attack or one that kills thousands of people.
The concept of networks of networks also servers to differentiate system administrators from programmers (not 100% accurate, but helpful none-the-less).
Copyright © 2012 Timid Robot Zehta. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.