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!

By Selena Frye

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...