As the dependence on technology grows, it becomes increasingly important for businesses and other organizations to employ skilled professionals who can manage and maintain their computer systems and networks. In this respect, sysadmins and network administrators play crucial responsibilities. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there are important distinctions between the two roles. In the following paragraphs, we’ll go deeper into these distinctions as well as the many types of system and network administrators.
What are the Different Types of System Administrators?
There are several different types of system administrators, each with their own unique responsibilities and skill sets. Here are a few of the most common types:
Desktop Support Administrator
A Desktop Support Administrator is a crucial member of the IT team responsible for providing technical assistance and support to users in an organization’s desktop computing environment. The primary purpose of this role is to ensure that desktop systems are functioning correctly and efficiently, and that any technical issues are resolved in a timely manner to minimize downtime.
The primary tasks of a Desktop Support Administrator include:
- Offering first-line technical support to users for desktop hardware and software by troubleshooting issues and resolving problems quickly.
- Installing, configuring, and maintaining desktop hardware and software, including operating systems, applications, and peripherals, to ensure that systems run optimally.
- Developing and delivering user training and support programs to ensure that users are proficient in using desktop systems and applications, and can work efficiently.
- Managing user accounts, access permissions, and security policies for desktop systems to ensure that data and resources are protected and secure.
- Collaborating with other IT teams to ensure that desktop systems are integrated with other IT systems, such as network and server infrastructure, and function correctly.
- Maintaining accurate records of desktop hardware and software inventory, tracking usage, and planning for upgrades and replacements to keep systems up-to-date.
A Network Administrator is a professional responsible for managing an organization’s computer network infrastructure. Their primary purpose is to ensure that the Infrastructure is secure, efficient, and running at optimal performance.
The main tasks of a Network Administrator include:
- Planning, designing, and implementing network infrastructure, including routers, switches, and firewalls, to ensure connectivity and security.
- Monitoring Infrastructure performance and identifying and resolving any issues that may impact connectivity or performance.
- Managing Infrastructure security by implementing and enforcing access control policies, firewalls, and other security measures.
- Collaborating with other IT teams to ensure that the network meets the organization’s business requirements and supports its operations.
- Configuring and maintaining Infrastructure devices and systems, including routers, switches, and firewalls, to ensure they are up-to-date and functioning correctly.
- Providing technical support to users and addressing any network-related issues that may arise.
A Database Administrator is responsible for managing an organization’s database systems. The primary purpose of this role is to ensure that the databases are secure, efficient, and available to support the organization’s operations.
The main tasks of a Database Administrator include:
- Installing, configuring, and upgrading database software to ensure that it is up-to-date and functioning correctly.
- Managing database security by implementing access control policies, auditing data access, and maintaining backups and recovery procedures to protect against data loss.
- Monitoring database performance and identifying and resolving any issues that may impact performance or availability.
- Planning and implementing database capacity and resource requirements to ensure that the organization’s needs are met.
- Collaborating with other IT teams to ensure that the database system integrates with other IT systems and supports the organization’s operations.
- Providing technical support to users and addressing any database-related issues that may arise.
What is a Network Administrator?
Network admins manage an organization’s network infrastructure. They manage the network. This includes configuring and maintaining routers, switches, firewalls, and other infrastructure equipment, monitoring network performance, and troubleshooting issues. Network administrators also manage user access and defend against outside attacks.
What are the Different Types of Network Administrators?
Like sysadmins, there are several different types of network administrators. Here are a few of the most common types:
A network security administrator
A network security administrator is responsible for ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of an organization’s infrastructure. Their primary purpose is to safeguard the network against unauthorized access, data breaches, and cyber-attacks. To accomplish this goal, they implement and maintain various security protocols and tools, monitor Infrastructure traffic, and identify and mitigate potential security threats.
The main tasks of a network security administrator include:
- Establishing and enforcing network security policies and procedures to protect the organization’s assets and data from internal and external threats.
- Designing and implementing Infrastructure security architecture, including firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and virtual private networks (VPNs).
- Conducting regular security audits and risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities and threats to the network.
- Monitoring Infrastructure activity to detect and respond to security incidents in a timely manner.
- Developing and implementing disaster recovery plans and business continuity strategies to ensure the organization can quickly recover from a security breach or outage.
- Keeping up-to-date with the latest security trends and technologies and continuously improving the organization’s security posture.
Network Operations Administrator
The role of a Network Operations Administrator is to oversee the day-to-day operations of an organization’s network infrastructure, ensuring that it is performing optimally and delivering the necessary services to support business operations. Their purpose is to ensure that the Infrastructure is running smoothly, and any issues are resolved quickly and efficiently.
The main tasks of a Network Operations Administrator include:
- Monitoring the network to ensure it is operating efficiently and effectively.
- Identifying and resolving Infrastructure issues, such as slow performance or downtime, as quickly as possible to minimize disruptions to the organization’s operations.
- Managing network infrastructure, including switches, routers, and servers, to ensure they are configured correctly and working correctly.
- Collaborating with other IT teams to ensure that the network infrastructure meets the organization’s business requirements.
- Ensuring that security policies and protocols are implemented and enforced to protect the organization’s assets and data.
- Maintaining accurate network documentation and reporting on performance metrics.
Wireless Network Administrator
A Wireless Network Administrator is responsible for managing and maintaining an organization’s wireless network infrastructure. Their purpose is to ensure that the wireless network provides seamless connectivity and is secure and available to users.
The main tasks of a Wireless Network Admin include:
- Planning, designing, and implementing wireless network infrastructure, including access points, controllers, and other components.
- Ensuring that the wireless network is secure and that access is restricted to authorized users only by implementing authentication, authorization, and encryption protocols.
- Monitoring the Infrastructure performance to identify and resolve any issues that may impact wireless connectivity or performance, such as interference, signal degradation, or bandwidth limitations.
- Collaborating with other IT teams to ensure that the wireless network meets the organization’s business requirements and supports its operations, including developing policies and procedures for wireless network usage.
- Maintaining accurate network documentation and reporting on Infrastructure performance metrics, including signal strength, throughput, and network usage.
- Staying up-to-date with the latest wireless network technologies and trends, such as 5G, Wi-Fi 6, or mesh networks, to ensure that the organization’s wireless infrastructure is always operating at peak performance.
Differences between System Administrators and Network Administrators
While there is some overlap in the responsibilities of system administrators and network administrators, there are also significant differences between the two roles.
Scope of Responsibilities
Responsibilities include managing and maintaining computer systems and applications for a company, whereas network admins are in charge of managing and maintaining the network infrastructure.
Sysadmins need a wide range of technical skill sets, including expertise in hardware, software, and operating systems, as well as solid troubleshooting and problem-solving skills. On the other hand, admins need extensive knowledge of network protocols, security, and infrastructure, as well as practical knowledge of network hardware and software.
Sysadmins spend a lot of effort into making sure that programs and systems work quickly, safely, and efficiently. Network administrators are concerned with maintaining a safe, dependable, and efficient infrastructure.
Interaction with Other IT Roles
Sysadmins and network administrators collaborate closely with other IT positions, though in different ways. While admins work directly with security analysts and network engineers, sysadmins closely collaborate with end users and application developers.
The job route for admins typically leads to network engineering or security responsibilities, whereas the career path for system administrators typically leads to IT management roles.
Network administrators and Sysadmins both have distinct certification pathways. Certifications for system administrators include Red Hat Certified System Administrator and Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA). (RHCSA). Certifications for network administrators include the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). (CISSP).
In conclusion, while Sysadmins and network administrators share some similarities, such as working with IT teams and managing complex systems, they have distinct responsibilities and skill sets. Understanding these differences is essential for organizations to ensure they have the right professionals in the right roles to keep their systems and networks running efficiently, securely, and reliably. Whether it’s a sysadmin responsible for managing an organization’s databases or a network administrator responsible for securing the network infrastructure, both roles are critical to the success of any organization in today’s technology-driven world.
I have extensive experience in the field of IT infrastructure security Regularly work on continuous monitoring of the network and infrastructure, preventing any possible security breach; other tasks and issues related to security. In my free time, I enjoy writing a column for this blog, where I share my experience and knowledge.