Networking

Poll results: The state of the network administrator? Stretched thin.

Last week's quick survey of network admins shows an unsurprising number who are finding less time for training, squeezing all they can out of less-than-cutting edge technology, and spending most of their precious time doing routine user support.

Over a thousand self-identified network administrators took the series of polls I posted last week, which were designed to give us a little snapshot of the real-world situations and concerns of net admins. Since the response was pretty significant, I decided to go ahead and share the results (the polls were closed earlier this afternoon for tabulation).

The majority, by far, have taken part recently in what they considered to be a major upgrade or implementation, which was perhaps a little surprising, considering the limitations of many corporate budgets. However, these could have been long overdue changes and doesn't necessarily indicate that the "latest and greatest" is what was implemented, as is indicated below where the question was, "Over the last 10 years or so, how would you characterize the change in how "cutting-edge" you feel your organization's technology is?"

Just under half the respondents judged their current technology to be "more cutting-edge" than it was a decade ago; so the majority consider it to be less so, if not actually Stone Age! Some pointed out in the discussion that there might be a wide disparity in what systems people considered to be "stone age."

For wirejockey, "WinServ 2003, Exchange 2003, XP, Office 2003, about 20% of my desktops being P3s, no VOIP, no virtualization, etc." qualifies, but not for info@: [That] "would involve WinNT/2000 Servers/desktops, and you'll find a LOT of offices that consider themselves 'modern' without VoIP or virtualization."

As I suspected, the majority of you spend your time on good ol' user support tasks, not fancy optimization and tweaking like bandwidth optimization. I'm sure there isn't a clear division (or the body count required) in many places to have separate help desk from the folks who are charged with keeping up the network and all the other IT tasks that must be handled by fewer and fewer persons. Maintenance and troubleshooting of legacy systems came in a solid second, and network security tasks came in third -- indicating a time issue or a confidence that network security is actually pretty solid? If you answered "other" I would be curious as to what those tasks are.

Again, not terribly surprising that most of you are feeling the pinch in the time that you can devote to training, new certs, or continuing education, with a hefty 34% who can only scoff at the suggestion of having time for such "frivolities." (Okay, that's my interpretation.)

Server virtualization seems to be the most doable -- no doubt as it translates a little more easily into less physical infrastructure, more efficiency, and potential cost savings. A sizable percentage are dipping into desktop virtualization as well as cloud services. For the "other" category some respondents mentioned the push into social media as being a new initiative, which was not specifically included in the poll, but I can see that many organizations are starting to realize they can no longer ignore the potential power of Facebook, Twitter, and the like for their organizations.

Does anything in these poll results surprise you or are they pretty much what you would have predicted? What other areas would you drill down into? Follow-up in the discussion below if you have other questions that you would like to see explored.

Thanks to all for participating!

About

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

8 comments
kimico
kimico

Compliance may be tough, but it can be done. But when you're dealing with a force that is so blatant in it's being "better than you" and seeing the senseless destruction they've brought upon people and businesses... that "compliance" takes on a different meaning than the one that gets paid lip service. http://www.cette-mutuelle.com/

creuzoi
creuzoi

Le r??sultat du sondage n'est pas vraiment surprenant !! maillot de foot

tmdelariva
tmdelariva

I spend a great deal of my time putting out fires, handling issues in our remote offices that are in the middle of nowhere with shaky internet connections and backups. I took the survey and was glad to see other network admins in the same boat as I am. I guess misery loves company

Old Timer 8080
Old Timer 8080

Playing the politics and kissing butt to the people who sign the paychecks... You don't play, you don't get paid.....

info
info

Wow...Quoted! ;) I'd say those graphs are a good overall summary, but I'm curious as to the total number of respondents. As to security, I spend as much time as I can on it. It's an issue of how much limelight is being given on a particular issue at the moment so that the Execs notice it and immediately direct me to 'improve'. I don't think it's so much feeling our network security is 'secure' so much as it's 'secure enough'. Considering the recent hack of Sony and the cracking of SecureKeys, and how much network access I'm directed to give my network users despite how many 'I_M_A_VIRUS.exe' mail attachments they click on, things are as secure as can be expected, with improvements on the way. A lot of companies had 'just gotten by' for the past decade, and are now realizing that a LOT of products they want to implement REQUIRE the infrastructure they neglected to install over the past several years. So they have to struggle to make up the difference.

pgit
pgit

I indicated I spend the bulk of my time on security. I really don't have much in the way of end user support responsibilities. With "security" being what it is these days (think lulzboat) I'm a bit surprised more people aren't preoccupied with it. I'm learning SELinux atm, and have been given a couple consolidation and potential virtualization projects to tackle. BTW when I ask what "scares" the owners of the systems I maintain, they all answer that government compliance (and gov't snooping) and the horrific consequences that can befall them even if they are not doing anything wrong, scares them more than having someone like lulz or anon stealing their information.

RipVan
RipVan

You're in the WRONG end of business! Look how many times Congress and the White House have been asked to produce emails. What do they produce? NOTHING! They have lame excuses like "...we changed systems and the new one isn't compatible with the old system..." I can't remember the many others I have heard for as long as I can remember. But they NEVER produce the requested documentation, regardless of who is asking for it and they NEVER suffer any consequences as a result. They can MAKE the rules. They just can't FOLLOW them. Get in the business of government (make sure you are HIGH up, though) and you will never have to worry about silly rules...

pgit
pgit

The official duplicity is definitely part of the fear people express. It really drives home the point that this is not a nation of laws, that there is an unaccountable oligarchy, or whatever 'archy' they are. Compliance may be tough, but it can be done. But when you're dealing with a force that is so blatant in it's being "better than you" and seeing the senseless destruction they've brought upon people and businesses... that "compliance" takes on a different meaning than the one that gets paid lip service. Of course now the easiest thing is to claim "national security." In most cases "national" translates to "my," and "security" is "cover." The maddening thing is the government is supposed to be held to higher standards, and be transparent in that it's allegedly doing the public's bidding. Their stuff is public, my affairs are supposed to be private, and protected specifically from government's prying eyes. Somehow we let it all get turned on it's head.