Cast your vote: SysAdmin of the Year 2009 launches

Recognize the rock star in your IT department with a nomination for SysAdmin of the Year

BigFix, LOPSA, USENIX and others kick off annual contest that asks companies to nominate an IT professional on staff for SysAdmin of the Year.

Companies looking for a unique way to recognize an IT staffer that saves them budget dollars, optimizes resources and enables employee productivity on a daily basis might want to nominate their high-tech hero for this year's System Administrator of the Year contest.

Have you hugged your SysAdmin today?

The SysAdmin of the Year contest kicked off Wednesday and nominations are now being accepted for U.S. and Canadian systems administrators through Oct. 23. Winners -- grand prize and runners up -- will be announced Nov. 4 at the Large Installation System Administration (LISA) 2009 Conference in Baltimore. The litany of prizes for first place this year include a laptop computer, a conference pass to LISA 2010 and Guitar Hero 5 -- with the choice of Wii, xBox or PS3. Another three sysadmins nominated will receive Guitar Hero 5 and the gaming system options and the first 500 submissions will receive a SysAdmin of the Year Rock Star t-shirt.  

"Sysadmins are the unsung heroes of information technology, keeping computers up and running, defending infrastructures from malware and hacking attacks, and helping end users maximize their productivity," according to contest organizers.

The contest, previously sponsored by Splunk, is now under the supervision of systems management vendor BigFix and industry organizations such as the League of Professional Systems Administrators (LOPSA). BigFix is supervising the nomination and judging process, while LOPSA is promoting it to their members. Judges include bloggers Amrit Williams and Robert Scoble and "Stealing the Network" author Ryan Russell. Additional judges are expected to be named.

"In an increasingly computerized world, sysadmins supply the sweat, on-the-spot decision making, and end-user support to sustain the economic and social benefits generated by computing," Williams, who is serving as chair of the judging panel, said in a press statement. "But like many vital professions requiring hands-on skills, sysadmins are often overlooked as contributors to the IT value chain. By bringing attention to the outstanding contributions of the profession's rock stars, we celebrate all sysadmins and the value they make possible in our society."

After debuting in 2006 and repeating in 2007, the contest didn't complete last year and no 2008 winner was named. It returns in its fourth year to honor those IT professionals working harder than ever, considering the current economy. Previous winners -- Michael Beck and Matt Timken -- stood out to employers and co-workers for going above and beyond what was asked of them.

"Michael understands a huge range of technologies and puts them together to meet business needs," said Tom Limoncelli, previous contest judge, system administrator and author of The Practice of System and Network Administration, about Beck. "Twice he's built out systems for new 100-plus person offices with somewhat vague business requirements. … Michael is a 'soup to nuts' kind of sysadmin."

And Timken "above all, he understands how dependent the Alaska law enforcement community is on his skills and is always willing to go the extra mile," according to his supervisor at the time, IT Manager Lance Ahern.

Nomination information can be found at the SysAdmin of the Year Web site.  

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