Differences between System Administrator and Network administrator?

Discussion in 'IT and Computer-Related Degrees' started by tmay70, Sep 10, 2011.

  1. tmay70

    tmay70 New Member

    As the subject says I am looking for a difference. I am an older person and am interested in getting into one of these and just want to know the differences. Also I have been supervising people all my life and now would like to get into the computer field where I dont have to manage anyone. I hope one of these fit the bill. Also online options for these?
  2. dlcurious

    dlcurious Member

    There is no concrete answer to this, but in theory a systems admin would manage the server infrastructure while a network admin would manage the network infrastructure (ie, routers, switches, etc.) In some organizations, primarily smaller ones, people holding one of these titles does both. They may also have management responsibilities over those lower on the food chain than them, ie, helpdesk and desktop support, computer operators, etc. With IT supporting the business but not directly providing a source of revenue, many organizations either outsource some of these responsibilities or try to get by with as little as possible. My current organization is no different.

    Those already in these positions typically get there by working their way up. Nobody is going to let you touch their core infrastructure without having some history of successfully providing support in a professional environment. Tinkering with computers at home, fixing Windows problems for friends, etc. may get you in an entry level job, but that's about it. If you're serious about it, this is the avenue I would pursue. Certifications are important in reaching these positions, so start browsing the requirements for obtaining certs from Microsoft, Cisco, etc. One online option may be Western Governor's University, which will allow you to obtain certs on the way to a BS - IT degree. good luck.
  3. Cyber

    Cyber New Member

    I remember this exact question while studying for the MS in IT Management program at TUI (now Trident) University. The name of the course was ITM550 - Network Planning and Administration (Module 4 Case Assignment). Anyway, from your research, I'm sure you've seen that systems administration and network administration are used quite interchangeably, even though the function of one encompasses the other. Network administration, in theory, is specific to an organization's computer network, and it involves variety of network management tasks such as setting up network users, managing distribution and efficient operation of network resources including all “connected” devices and peripherals.

    Network administration also entail active monitoring and management of network activity with say, a protocol analyzer or other real-time or passive monitoring resource (tools, applications, and devices), with the aim of showing changes in network traffic and other network activities. In practice, however, and depending on the size of the organization, network administration may involve other tasks such as administering of databases to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of organization's data, as well as provide network user (internal and external) support services.

    On the other hand, systems administration involves the smooth operation of the different parts that make up any system – be it a network system, other IT systems that may encompass sub systems; for example: a building security system, or other technical systems that are non IT or networked in nature. Furthermore, in addition to encompassing all functions of network administration, and again, depending on the size of the organization and how their IT department is structured (big department with internal IT staff versus outsourcing of services to third party), systems administration may involve performing tasks such as backup and storage, ensuring network/information security and business continuity planning, and software patching and operating systems updates.

    Systems administrators can also be involved in e-commerce/website initiatives and CRM systems management, software development and roll-out projects, integration of physical security systems with IT security, field services and support operations for other organizational units like the sales department, etc. In essence, network administration is narrow in scope while systems administration is generalist; systems administration tasks can encompass other operational functions beyond IT/network and technical systems support services within the organization.

    So yes, network administration is just one aspect of systems administration, however, the nature of the job title and relegation of functions differ from company to company (it is possible to have both network administrator and a systems administrator as job titles within the same organization). I hope my rambling makes sense...
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2011

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