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Opinon - Difference between Network and System Admin?

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  • Opinon - Difference between Network and System Admin?

    I had a discussion last week with a colleague of mine, and one of the topics was the definition of our old job. Without boring you on the rest of the conversation (or our conclusion):

    When you hear system admin / network admin, do you think of them as the same role, different roles, or overlapping roles? What do you define each role as?
    ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **

  • #2
    Re: Opinon - Difference between Network and System Admin?

    In my case in every environment I've worked in they are one and the same and used interchangeably. Only in large environments where they have a strict separation of duties have I seen them used to describe two very different positions and skill sets.

    Some people call me a network admin and some call me a system admin. I manage all servers, switches, routers, firewalls, email servers, database servers, desktop computers, wireless access points, printers, faxes, copy machines, etc., etc.

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    • #3
      Re: Opinon - Difference between Network and System Admin?

      I've only been personally involved in situations where a System Administrator and a Network Administrator were synonymous. However, I personally think of a System administrator as a type of Jack of All Trades position that tends to deal more with servers and their applications. When I hear "Network Engineer" I think of folks who frob with Cisco, Juniper, and Foundry equipment and balance their checkbooks using binary math.

      Of course, then there's the occasional title: "Systems Engineer" that confuses things further.

      As a side note, I think some people take issue to the term "Engineer" being assigned to someone who does not have a formal degree in an engineering field or who has not been certified by a society of engineers. So maybe it's best to just call people like us System Administrators and be done with it. I've always liked the SysAdmin title myself.
      Wesley David
      LinkedIn | Careers 2.0
      -------------------------------
      Microsoft Certifications: MCSE 2003 | MCSA:Messaging 2003 | MCITP:EA, SA, EST | MCTS: a'plenty | MCDST
      Vendor Neutral Certifications: CWNA
      Blog: www.TheNubbyAdmin.com || Twitter: @Nonapeptide || GTalk, Reader and Google+: [email protected] || Skype: Wesley.Nonapeptide
      Goofy kitten avatar photo from Troy Snow: flickr.com/photos/troysnow/

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      • #4
        Re: Opinon - Difference between Network and System Admin?

        Well, if you are an MCSE or CCIE, I think you can rightfully call yourself an engineer as that's what Microsoft and Cisco call you. You may not have a formal college engineering degree but I would bet dollars to pesos that your knowledge is on par with a formally educated "engineer". Also, I read an article years ago that likened getting an MCSE on par with getting an MBA.

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        • #5
          Re: Opinon - Difference between Network and System Admin?

          There is definitely this separation, when the System Admin deals with the systems (meaning servers, workstations, peripheral equipment and so on) and the Network Admin deals with the Network infrastructure (meaning switches, routers, gateways and anything else that make the systems talk to each other).
          There are companies that both fields are in the same person's tour of duty. But there are others when two people (or two teams/departments) are in charge with the two (one for each field).
          My institution's set-up is such. We are two SysAdmins here, in my department: I am in charge with Microsoft and Novell serves and a colleague of mine with the Unix/Linux servers. And we both are using the network infrastructure a team from another department is in charge with.
          This is, of course, on the philosophical level. It is clear that every manager of every company will decide how much human power is available for every job.

          Sorin Solomon


          In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.
          -

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          • #6
            Re: Opinon - Difference between Network and System Admin?

            /\ What he said.

            To me, a "Network Admin" or "Network Engineer" deals with things from the physical layer up to perhaps layer 3 or 4 - whereas a "Systems Engineer" or "System Admin" deals with the layers from 4 up - i.e. directory services, print services, file services, messaging services etc. Note that I say "Services" - it's only when you get to desktop support and/or hardware support that I would talk about looking after the servers/workstations.


            Tom
            For my own and your protection, I do not provide support by private message under any circumstances. All such messages will be deleted and ignored.

            Anything you say will be misquoted and used against you

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            • #7
              Re: Opinon - Difference between Network and System Admin?

              I think the only difference between the 2 is about $15,000 per year.
              1 1 was a racehorse.
              2 2 was 1 2.
              1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
              2 2 1 1 2

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              • #8
                Re: Opinon - Difference between Network and System Admin?

                Originally posted by joeqwerty View Post
                Well, if you are an MCSE or CCIE, I think you can rightfully call yourself an engineer as that's what Microsoft and Cisco call you.
                Canada might take exception with you on that point: http://www.engineerscanada.ca/e/pub_news_02_03.cfm

                Plenty of other stories abound on the interweb about this semantic tussle north of the 49th parallel.



                You may not have a formal college engineering degree but I would bet dollars to pesos that your knowledge is on par with a formally educated "engineer".
                Methinks that's an apples to oranges comparison. I'd never let a structural engineer design my AD forest and likewise he'd never let me build a bridge. Being a MCP, any bridge I build would exhibit any one of the following characteristics:

                1) The first Tuesday of every month the bridge would be reduced to one lane of alternating traffic while updates are applied.

                2) Require a per passenger or per automobile CAL for each vehicle that uses the bridge

                3) Have hoodlums scribble graffiti on it supporting the benefits of that new free Finnish bridge that just went up on the other side of town. Examples would include: "Bridgux Roxors!" and "mv *.MSFT /dev/null/"

                4) Periodically turn a brilliant shade of blue and close all toll gates on both sides of the bridge.



                Also, I read an article years ago that likened getting an MCSE on par with getting an MBA.
                I've heard that same thing as well, and have always wondered which college's MBA the MCSE was being compared to. Harvard or Jim Bob's Community College in Steampipe Oklahoma, population 43... make that 42 (Jed Wilkin's son just joined the Army).

                Don't get me wrong. I'm currently studying for a 2003 MCSE and know that it's no cake walk (not for me, anyway).

                Interestingly, I've begun to tell people that IT work is engineering for people that didn't have enough money to go to engineering school. The problems I face, the systems that I have to build with limited resources, and the maintenance that needs to be done are all engineering problems at their core. I just didn't have the luxury of going to CalPoly Tech, MIT, or [insert favorite technical college here] to get my engineering degree.
                Wesley David
                LinkedIn | Careers 2.0
                -------------------------------
                Microsoft Certifications: MCSE 2003 | MCSA:Messaging 2003 | MCITP:EA, SA, EST | MCTS: a'plenty | MCDST
                Vendor Neutral Certifications: CWNA
                Blog: www.TheNubbyAdmin.com || Twitter: @Nonapeptide || GTalk, Reader and Google+: [email protected] || Skype: Wesley.Nonapeptide
                Goofy kitten avatar photo from Troy Snow: flickr.com/photos/troysnow/

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                • #9
                  Re: Opinon - Difference between Network and System Admin?

                  Excellent post for several reasons, none of which I am going to mention.

                  Somebody give this member some points on my behalf, please. (I'm still saving to buy my bridge)
                  1 1 was a racehorse.
                  2 2 was 1 2.
                  1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
                  2 2 1 1 2

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Opinon - Difference between Network and System Admin?

                    Yes, Master (oh, wait, that is from another movie )...

                    Sorin Solomon


                    In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.
                    -

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Opinon - Difference between Network and System Admin?

                      Originally posted by biggles77 View Post
                      (I'm still saving to buy my bridge)
                      I could build it for half the price of your current vendor.
                      Wesley David
                      LinkedIn | Careers 2.0
                      -------------------------------
                      Microsoft Certifications: MCSE 2003 | MCSA:Messaging 2003 | MCITP:EA, SA, EST | MCTS: a'plenty | MCDST
                      Vendor Neutral Certifications: CWNA
                      Blog: www.TheNubbyAdmin.com || Twitter: @Nonapeptide || GTalk, Reader and Google+: [email protected] || Skype: Wesley.Nonapeptide
                      Goofy kitten avatar photo from Troy Snow: flickr.com/photos/troysnow/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Opinon - Difference between Network and System Admin?



                        It is already built. It's a reference to this: http://forums.petri.com/showthread.p...9287#post99287

                        Sorin Solomon


                        In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.
                        -

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Opinon - Difference between Network and System Admin?

                          Originally posted by sorinso View Post


                          It is already built. It's a reference to this: http://forums.petri.com/showthread.p...9287#post99287


                          I read that this morning, but Microsoft never passes up an opportunity to rebuild what's already been done better. Witness: Mac OS about 15 years ago.


                          EDIT: That is not a catalyst for OS flamewars. Just an amusing observation. If that annoys you, replace that with "Witness: Berkley Sockets"
                          Last edited by Nonapeptide; 1st April 2008, 20:00.
                          Wesley David
                          LinkedIn | Careers 2.0
                          -------------------------------
                          Microsoft Certifications: MCSE 2003 | MCSA:Messaging 2003 | MCITP:EA, SA, EST | MCTS: a'plenty | MCDST
                          Vendor Neutral Certifications: CWNA
                          Blog: www.TheNubbyAdmin.com || Twitter: @Nonapeptide || GTalk, Reader and Google+: [email protected] || Skype: Wesley.Nonapeptide
                          Goofy kitten avatar photo from Troy Snow: flickr.com/photos/troysnow/

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                          • #14
                            Re: Opinon - Difference between Network and System Admin?

                            If I hear that someone is a network admin I assume I'm talking with somebody who has knowledge about networks.
                            So I assume he knows enough about his network components to tell me what his problem is.

                            If I hear that someone is a system admin I assume I'm talking with somebody who has knowledge about the servers he services.
                            So I assume he knows enough about his Server components to tell me what his problem is.

                            However, in most companies there is quite an overlapping and I think thats good.
                            Marcel
                            Technical Consultant
                            Netherlands
                            http://www.phetios.com
                            http://blog.nessus.nl

                            MCITP(EA, SA), MCSA/E 2003:Security, CCNA, SNAF, DCUCI, CCSA/E/E+ (R60), VCP4/5, NCDA, NCIE - SAN, NCIE - BR, EMCPE
                            "No matter how secure, there is always the human factor."

                            "Enjoy life today, tomorrow may never come."
                            "If you're going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill"

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