History of the League of Professional System Administrators
LOPSA's story begins in the early 1990s - a time when large scale computing infrastructures began taking a more prominent part in the day to day operation of society. USENIX, the Advanced Computing Systems Association, had regularly held their annual conference for years, and in 1986 included a workshop for system administrators of large infrastructures, and it was from this workshop that LOPSA would one day spring.
The Large Installation System Administration (LISA) workshop eventually grew into its own conference along with the founding of a Special Technical Group named SAGE, the System Administrators Guild. Over time, SAGE members grew in number until it began to make sense to operate under a charter independent of USENIX.
2004 - 2005: SAGE Transitions to LOPSA
The USENIX Board and the SAGE leadership were initially in agreement on the roadmap for independence. Work was begun by the "NewSAGE" executive committee, consisting of Geoff Halprin, Trey Harris, David Parter, and Lorette Cheswick. The organization was incorporated as a New Jersey Non-Profit corporation in November 2004.
Throughout the Fall of 2004 and through the Spring of 2005, the initial Leadership Committee was recruited, consisting of Greg Rose, Esther Filderman, Adam Moskowitz, and Mario Obejas, and was charged with overseeing the first election of the Board of Directors, assisted by an early technical team consisting of Jesse Trucks and Matt Okeson-Harlow.
The election results were announced on June 28, 2005. The first elected Board of Directors consisted of Tom Perrine as President, Pat Wilson as Vice President, Andrew Hume served as the Secretary/Treasurer, and Sam Albrecht, of management company Association Headquarters, served as the Executive Director. NewSAGE was ready to go.
Unfortunately, in the Fall of 2005, discussions with the leadership of USENIX broke down, and NewSAGE no longer had the support of its parent organization in seeking independence. With incorporation complete and a newly elected Board of Directors at the helm, the decision was made to break away entirely. The name SAGE belonged to USENIX, and so the new organization, previously NewSAGE, became the League of Professional System Administrators, LOPSA.
2005 - 2009: LOPSA's Early Years
Any new organization meets its share of hurdles, and LOPSA was no exception. With the unpleasant breakaway from USENIX fresh in everyone's mind, loyalties were challenged and relationships strained, but the two communities continued to grow independently of one another.
LOPSA's membership rose to several hundred members within its first year. President Tom Perrine was followed by Trey Harris in 2007, who concentrated his first term in office on expanding the programs and benefits that LOPSA offered.
In 2006, LOPSA's first local chapter (LOPSA-AZ in Phoenix) created the concept of a regional system administration conference. This event served as the model for a second event in Cherry Hill, New Jersey in 2007 and paved the way for a series of later conferences following a similar model.
In early 2007, a legal complaint between Association Headquarters and USENIX expanded to involve LOPSA. It wasn't until two years later, in May of 2009, that the lawsuit was settled amicably between the three parties. This clearing of the air allowed LOPSA's leadership to concentrate on what matters most - its members and the profession.
2009 - 2012: LOPSA Matures
As one of the core tenants of LOPSA's mission is education of system administrators, since shortly after its inception, LOPSA has offered training at various conferences throughout North America. During 2009 and 2010, LOPSA re-dedicated itself to this.
In addition to classes at the Ohio Linux Fest and the Southern California Linux Expo, near the end of 2009, Board member William Bilancio and LOPSA member Tom Limoncelli began planning a regional conference run by the New Jersey chapter, and structured as a cross between the previous SysAdmin Days conference and the national LISA conference that USENIX holds annually. First held in May of 2010, the two-day Professional IT Community Conference (PICC) was later renamed LOPSA-East. It also inspired the Seattle-Area SysAdmin Guild (SASAG) to run their own regional conference, the Cascadia IT Conference. These two chapter-run conferences continue to be an annual tradition.
In May of 2010, Trey Harris stepped down as President of the Board of Directors and was followed by Philip Kizer. As President, Philip was to oversee the largest expansion of LOPSA programs and chapters in its history.
In September of that same year, the Mentorship program was launched. The first formal program of its kind, LOPSA members who took part were matched with proteges who were seeking expertise and experience that they didn't have. This program has since been expanded and continues to be the only example of peer to peer mentoring in the industry.
By the time Philip left office in 2013, LOPSA membership had expanded to over 800 system administrators, and all told, LOPSA was home to nearly a dozen local chapters. In addition, the organization's first anti-harassment policy was written and approved and LOPSA had implemented an annual scholarship for Women in Advanced Computing. Importantly, our relationship with USENIX was once again cooperative and friendly. Things were set to take off.
2013 and Beyond: Modern LOPSA
With industry-leading programs, nearly a thousand members, and an ever-growing local chapter base, LOPSA stands well poised to begin getting marquee corporate partners and being able to affect real change in the profession.
LOPSA members currently enjoy benefits that include discounts on hardware, software, and services across the internet, multiple venues for communicating with colleagues from around the globe, and valuable resources for career advancement.
The leadership of LOPSA is dedicated to growing the volunteer workforce and instituting programs that can make a real difference in the day to day lives of its members. Join today and help us work toward a better profession.
LOPSA Founding Sponsors
The following individuals provided funding for LOPSA in its formative year. We are grateful to them for their past and continued assistance: