There's no differentiation in Crowd the product (yet), and connected applications do not use this information (yet). Plugins to Crowd are free to use the information, though I'm not aware of any that do.
They're only exposed because Crowd is also used in Atlassian Cloud (our Saas offering), and the concept is meaningful there: we're cleaning up the administration story for connected Atlassian products and it's likely those enhancements will make their way to our Server offerings too (aka traditional behind the firewall installs). Of course, we'll do our best to avoid any lockouts when/if that happens.
The sysadmin functionality hasn't changed, and it's still as Casper outlined above.
The feature you describe sounds more like group level admin permissions, with different groups having permission to administer different parts of the application. The feature request is tracked as https://jira.atlassian.com/browse/CWD-2318. Please have a look at it, and leave a comment with your specific use case if it's not mentioned there yet.
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