Have we mentioned how much we love SysAdmins here at OpenDNS? Not only do we love them, but we spend a good amount of our time thinking about how we can make their lives better and their jobs easier. Because after all, being a SysAdmin is a thankless job – it’s often not until something goes wrong that a SysAdmin is acknowledged and appreciated.

To celebrate our favorite unsung heroes, OpenDNS is announcing the fifth annual OpenDNS SysAdmin Awards, the only awards contest that honors only SysAdmins and the great work they do that everyone benefits from. This is your place to acknowledge the SysAdmin, network operator or IT person in your office, a SysAdmin you know or even yourself.

There are six categories, and from all of the submissions in the six categories we’ll select one individual for the crown honor: 2011 OpenDNS SysAdmin of the Year. Last year’s submission count was unprecedented and we look forward to better this year.

Without further ado, here are the six categories, plus what our judging panel — consisting of the OpenDNS operations team (which includes OpenDNS CEO David Ulevitch) — will be looking for in each category.

Best Disaster Response Award

A hurricane, a fire, an earthquake. A datacenter meltdown. Something that would have caused business operations to shut down completely, if it weren’t for this SysAdmin. Like a knight in shining armor, he or she managed to keep the network up and running. Your submission should include details about the disaster and how the SysAdmin handled it. If it involved you holding servers over your head in rising flood waters while you are wearing a snorkel, you would be a great candidate for this category.

Neat Freak Award

SysAdmins take pride in documentation and organization of cabling, wiring and racks. Wow the judges in this category with photographic evidence showing that your SysAdmin takes their wiring and racking work seriously and is the neatest and most organized of them all.

Shoestring Budget Award

This SysAdmin works wonders with a seriously tight budget. Tell us about the SysAdmin with the craziest buildout done on the cheap. We need details for this submission – tell the judges specs, total cost and what kind of awesomeness it powers. We respect the fact that you had to string fiber between buildings with a frisbee because you had no budget to trench across the street.

Flying Solo Award

Even with a team of talented operators, SysAdmin’ing is not easy work. But when flying solo it can be downright heroic. Regale us with a (true) story of the heroic SysAdmin who saved the world (or did something awesome) to save the day (or company) all by his or herself.

Large-Scale Deployment Award

Some jobs are too challenging to comprehend, but not for the SysAdmin who wins our Large-Scale Deployment Award. Tell us the story of a SysAdmin who has managed a massive amount of infrastructure from their diety-like fingertips with finesse and elegance. Tell us how big the deployment was, when it was built and what some of the impressive metrics it offered were (pageviews, megahertz, memory, rendering, etc.). Note, if you are the chief architect behind AWS and you are submitted as a candidate you will win this award. 🙂

DevOps Award

Often, the most successful SysAdmins are the ones who can write code and work well with others. OpenDNS and other large Internet sites like Flickr attribute much of their success to the close collaboration between engineering and operations. Share a success story of your own where the SysAdmin’s collaboration played a key role in a successful engineering project. Tell us when this happened, who was involved, and how you know it was successful.

How to nominate a SysAdmin for an award: To submit yourself or a fellow SysAdmin, just email awards at opendns dot com with the award category in the subject line. Follow the instructions for the category in your submission. Hint: The more detail in the submission the better.

Winners will be announced here on this blog, and all will receive a gift package from OpenDNS full of awesome goodies. Winners will also be VIP invited guests at the 5th Annual SysAdmin Appreciation Party in San Francisco on July 28, 2011 (more details forthcoming). Deadline for entry is midnight July 12, 2011.

Happy hacking and good luck!

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