National Nuclear Security Administration

If you’ve got the blue screen of death, who ya gonna call? The SysAdmin!

July 28, 2017

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Today is System Administrator Appreciation Day. Here are some first-hand perspectives on how these dedicated professionals keep NNSA’s information technology up and running.

Raymond Dersch

Name: Raymond Dersch
Title: Sr. Systems Administrator
Location: Kansas City National Security Campus

What does a system administrator do day-to-day?
One of the great benefits of being a system administrator at the Kansas City National Security Campus is the amount of responsibility we are encouraged to adopt. On any given day, one can find us evaluating innovative technologies, implementing new hardware or software solutions, or managing service delivery led efforts – aka projects.

What is your favorite thing about being a system administrator?
What excites me most about being a system administrator for NNSA is the NNSA community itself. I get to interface with my contemporaries at other sites routinely to share knowledge I have gained and sometimes to solicit assistance for initiatives I’m engaged with here in KCNSC. There is a great support structure here. We have tremendous talent and people across the complex and that makes coming in to work a pleasure.

What does a person need to be a good system administrator?
While strong technical skills will always be in demand,a global mindset of the business and how technology enables it to excel at a competitive level is key. Project management fundamentals and strong interpersonal skills round out a solid system administrator.

Name: Kami Bush
Title: Infrastructure Systems Administrator
Location: Y-12 National Security Complex

What exactly is a system administrator?
A “jack of all trades” in IT. We all know a little about a lot and use that to solve issues and plan new implementations of technology. As the world becomes more digital, we work to expand our knowledge and assist our customers with planning the best ways to use the technology.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a system administrator?
Have more than just technical skills. As much as you need excellent technical skills, you also need excellent customer service skills. Also, take the time to study business. Understanding the business side of IT decisions can assist you in recommending solutions to your customer. Your customer will be speaking from a business perspective and you are there to translate their business needs into a technical solution.

When you have free time, what are your hobbies?
One of my favorite hobbies is bowling. My 6-year-old daughter and I bowl at least once a week. I also love camping – getting away and relaxing with friends and family around a campfire. My favorite site is Cumberland Island, Georgia. There is a beautiful beach, wild horses, and my cell phone only has spotty reception, so I’m forced to disconnect and truly relax.

Aaron Thronas

Name: Aaron Thronas
Title: IT Engineer
Location: HAMMER Training Facility and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

What excites you about your work for NNSA?
The work I do has the ability to make an impact in so many ways and that impact is global.

What is your favorite thing about being a system administrator?

The team of people I work with to keep all systems running is one of my favorite things. We maintain detectors and computer systems and provide training. It really does take a team to keep all components in harmony with each other. We all work together, specializing in different areas, and are always there to support one another.

What does a person need to be a good system administrator?

One of the greatest qualities of a good system administrator is the ability to be very detail-oriented and to always be thinking of the consequences of the actions you take. Planning will take most of your time but will prevent remediation later.

Ryan Ussery

Name: Ryan Ussery
Title: System Administrator
Location: Albuquerque, NM

What excites you about your work for NNSA?
The NNSA is an exciting place to work because of the diverse challenges required day-to-day. Being able to support initiatives that have such a large impact on our country is very rewarding. To be part of something bigger is a great part of my work here at NNSA.

What is your favorite thing about being a system administrator?
My favorite thing about being a system administrator is that every day is something different. One day you may be working on a website issue and the next you could be setting up a new print server or SQL (structured query language) server. The variety is refreshing and keeps me on my toes.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a system administrator?
I would tell them to be comfortable with change. Technology, as a whole, is an always-changing field. You have to learn how to roll with those changes and adapt to new circumstances or new ways of thinking. You must be flexible in your thoughts and actions. The same thing that worked last time may not work this time or there may be a better way of doing it that saves time.