Networking

The state of the network administrator today

Has your role as a network administrator changed in the last few years? What technology changes or related trends have affected your job the most? Answer these short poll questions to give us an idea of the state of the network administrator today.

There are a lot of trends and events that have affected IT over the last decade or so: a tumbling economy, outsourcing, the advent of virtualization technologies, moving applications to public or private clouds, and the ever-increasing tide of consumer devices on corporate networks, just to name a few.

If you identify yourself as a network administrator, no matter what size your organization (or maybe, a number of organizations over a span of 10 or 15 years), I'm curious to know how you think your role has changed. What tasks consume most of your time and energy on a daily basis? Are you now more of a generalist or are you a specialist in a particular technology? Do you find yourself squeezing every last bit of use out of legacy systems or have you been involved in brand new implementations?

In an attempt to get a more accurate snapshot of what network administrators are actually doing these days, please take a few minutes to look at the questions below and take the short polls. Your answers can help us better target the content that is of the most practical use to you.

If there are other significant changes in your job role, share them with us in the discussion and also explain any of your poll answers that you think need some context. Thanks 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...

14 comments
dlaminjn
dlaminjn

Skills shortage In South Africa, what I would call ???fine??? or ???Organic??? IT skills are slowly being extinct in the market. Our market is already facing a serious skills shortage. The problem has to do with our education system and most importantly the mindset of today???s society which doesn???t take education seriously, and scared of challenge (Mathematics and Sciences). It???s very rare to find a black network administrator with Cisco skills. Besides find an administrator of colour, it is still scarce just to find a Network Administrator. Network security Most networks that I???ve supported lack security. Network Administrators in our market can generally do a great job, but spoil it by lacking proper network security. Most networks are vulnerable to viruses especially government departments. Integration to wireless In the past decade networks have been migrated to wireless. This has brought about challenge in infrastructure, planning and skills. Our market is very slow in introducing wireless LANs. Organizations are still using dinosaurs network planning strategies.

BlackKris
BlackKris

Working for a public school has it's advantages at time. By the end of the summer all but 2 of our servers (user home directories) will be virtualized. With both public and private wireless networks, VPN access for staff, and cloud apps for the staff and students. We are working toward the 24/7 learning experience for our students.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

Is leading to statements like "Our goal is to reduce IT support contractors and repurpose IT staff through attrition leveraging IT Workforce Planning". All in the name of "Lower IT operational costs". There is talk that this move will cost more money than it will save. We shall see.

wirejockey
wirejockey

Ha! I'm just giddy as all get out over the fact that 7% of us identify with being in the IT Stone Age. For me that would include, WinServ 2003, Exchange 2003, XP, Office 2003, about 20% of my desktops being P3s, no VOIP, no virtualization, etc. But on the other hand, I do have a Droid phone! :-)

information
information

This poll asked all the right questions and provided good answers to choose from.

tom.milliner
tom.milliner

IT used to be mostly infrastructure, security, servers, and desktop support. But, over the last few years, IT has expanded to include audio-video and web page support. Now, social and mobile media applications are getting increased attention.

pgit
pgit

I selected "other" on the last question. Just started looking into SELinux last week, similar to taking a shot of pepper spray in the eye point blank.

TyDavis22
TyDavis22

I am a desktop support tech but I also maintain some networks, I am trying to get back to school to finish my degree in network security, I am a person of "color" or black as I like to say. There are few of us that are Admins but is it because of lack of education or lack of want to?

pgit
pgit

The "lower operational costs" are not entirely dissociated from other factors like income, and are not the sole component in ROI. The actual purpose of the data center (or similar infrastructure) will be what suffers. Information availability, sales, whatever the reason for the hardware is going to be degraded. You need people who are up to speed and in total control of your infrastructure, and who are AVAILABLE when the need arises. I'm seeing a trend, too. It's like the old downsize/outsource/off shore thinking. You can get ahead simply by eliminating people. That game of musical chairs will end with a bang one of these days.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Excluding the Exchange, that describes most of my current set up. I was defining 'Stone Age' as W2K / Server 2000 or less. VOIP? I've been promised that for at least four years. Much of what we virtualized were existing Server 2003 systems. On the other hand, I'm not saddled with a corporate cyber-leash.

info
info

Going by your yardstick, I answered incorrectly then. To ME, 'stone age' would involve WinNT/2000 Servers/desktops, and you'll find a LOT of offices that consider themselves 'modern' without VoIP or virtualization. Just because it's 'trendy' doesn't mean it's a step forward for the money you spend... But I worked long and hard to get some of the clerks new dual-core desktops to replace their '02-era P4 1.7s (which had just replaced the P3's). The execs didn't think there would be any change, until they saw 3 hour reports turn into 15 minute ones, and morale DRASTICALLY improve...

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

The 'More or less time' questions need an 'About the same' answer.

coldbrew
coldbrew

At a past employer, there was a push to use facebook as a "feel good" tool. It promoted what the org did in the community. Since then I have seen company pages explode onto Facebook. Even our local news chanel has a page where they post.