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Web Design Reference Guide

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Systems Administrator / Webmaster

Last updated Oct 17, 2003.

A site can't succeed if the server is down or if it suffers from a lack of security. Systems administrators (also known as SysAdmins and engineers) take care of the server, hardware, and software housing the site.

Before a site goes live, it's usually put on a staging server to validate that it works. SysAdmins push code to the staging and production servers and address server problems. Have you ever tried going to a Web site you've been to before only to find that it's "down?" Odds are good the SysAdmins are working like crazy behind-the-scenes to get the site back up and running.

SysAdmins ensure that transactions on e-commerce sites are secure and run smoothly. They take action when transactions result in an error or a hacker breaks in. When email stops working or a page turns up an error, everyone runs to the SysAdmin for help.

In the past, SysAdmins were known as Webmasters and many still are, but their roles have grown from a technical angle. The Webmaster title is obviously still in use today, especially on smaller sites where the Webmaster checks the site for problems and handles user questions.

For large organizations, SysAdmins are typically part of the IT department or help desk. Systems administration is a broad category that depends on the organization for the definition of its roles and responsibilities.