Difference between being a network engineer for an ISP vs IT service provider

Gallain123Gallain123 Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□
Hi,

I'm not sure if this is a stupid question (i guess i'll find out soon).

I've recently been offered a job as a junior network engineer at an ISP so a lot of the key focus is on protocols such as BGP.

Just wondering what the difference may be skill set wise with being a network engineer at an ISP versus being one at an IT service provider company or in house networking at a large company?

Do you think one may be more advantageous than the other?

This is all UK based if that makes any difference

Comments

  • Cisco InfernoCisco Inferno Posts: 1,035Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    joining in to hear the replies.

    I live in a city with many ISPs and the job availability in this sector looks promising.
    Would love to get my hands on MetroE and BGP.

    One thing I hear, is that at an ISP, you are not treated as a 'cost' to the business.
    2019 Goals
    CompTIA Linux+
    [ ] Bachelor's Degree
  • networker050184networker050184 Posts: 11,962Mod Mod
    I certainly prefer service providers. Larger scale means larger and more interesting problems to solve. With that scale usually comes more separation of duties and deeper specialization. In a smaller enterprise you may be responsible for a few routers, switches and firewalls. As an engineer at an ISP you may concentrate solely on core or access layers including hundreds or thousands of devices. A whole different department might handle firewalls etc. Engineering, architecture and operations are usually all different departments as well. So once you make it out of the operations level you rarely have to worry about on call or working tickets.

    The biggest reason I prefer to work for service providers or other tech companies is because you are the business. Not a cost of doing the business.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • MitMMitM Posts: 555Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    I wondered the same thing. How does the salary compare between ISP and Enterprise IT? I would assume ISP pay would be less, but what do I know :)
  • networker050184networker050184 Posts: 11,962Mod Mod
    I really don't know the answer to that. People can be paid largely different amounts within the same group in a single organization mush less between sectors. What I do know is you can make plenty in both if you know your stuff. You can likely go higher on the purely technical side with an ISP compared to most enterprises where management would be part of your upward path much quicker. There are really large enterprises that operate in almost the same way as service providers though.

    So as usual the best answer is probably..... it depends!
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • Welly_59Welly_59 Posts: 431Member
    I think the difference will be in the technologies. I'm with an MSP so its mainly LAN switching with occasional routing protocols between sites.
  • Cisco InfernoCisco Inferno Posts: 1,035Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    networker, lets say that I join an ISP with both Juniper and Cisco.

    would you recommend getting the JNCIS-SP or the CCNA-SP? Already have a CCNA.

    Also, would it be wise to go JNCIA-JunOS->JNCIS-ENT->JNCIS-SP?

    Or should one skip the ENT track? I heard that you want to do JNCIA-JunOS for foundation CLI stuff.
    2019 Goals
    CompTIA Linux+
    [ ] Bachelor's Degree
  • MitMMitM Posts: 555Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    I really don't know the answer to that. People can be paid largely different amounts within the same group in a single organization mush less between sectors. What I do know is you can make plenty in both if you know your stuff. You can likely go higher on the purely technical side with an ISP compared to most enterprises where management would be part of your upward path much quicker. There are really large enterprises that operate in almost the same way as service providers though.

    So as usual the best answer is probably..... it depends!

    Very true. I wasn't sure if due to the amount of engineers an ISP has, maybe it pays less :)

    I've only worked in smb/enterprise shops.

    Gallain123 - congrats on the job, it should be great experience for you.
  • Gallain123Gallain123 Posts: 7Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    @cisco inferno- i asked that exact same question to who will be my future manager at the interview. He said if you already have CCNA then continue with that path if it's not expired. CCNP will cover everything you need, when it comes to configuring you can just google commands between cisco and juniper.

    With regards to salary for the UK- from my experience of looking at a lot of jobs when applying it seems that they can massively vary whether it's service provider or isp. I was seeing anything from like 30-80k for sr networking engineer positions.

    Thank you all for your thoughts on this. Either way this is my foot in the door and i'm not entirely sure of everything i'll be covering, job spec mentions protocols like vpls, mpls and in the int they tested me on stp and my normal routing protocols. So maybe as a small isp they also maintain their customers topologies. But yeah like i said i'm sure i'll learn a lot and this will be a stepping stone to a sr networking role one day.
  • networker050184networker050184 Posts: 11,962Mod Mod
    I usually recommend Cisco certs before Juniper. Cisco shops are pretty popular and even the ones that use a lot of Juniper are always open to people with Cisco backgrounds. If you want to go the SP route career wise I'd go that cert track. I'd think SP and Security would be the two most useful Juniper cert paths.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • fredrikjjfredrikjj Posts: 879Member
    I
    The biggest reason I prefer to work for service providers or other tech companies is because you are the business. Not a cost of doing the business.

    Any business is going to reduce headcount if they can do so without impacting the services they offer. If you could, you would run an ISP with zero technical employees because it would be cheaper. So how are you not a cost?
  • networker050184networker050184 Posts: 11,962Mod Mod
    Obviously in that sense every employee costs money. IT being a cost of doing business and the tech you work on being the business are two different things though.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • pevangelpevangel Posts: 342Member
    I've managed to only work with service providers in my short career while doing a few consulting gigs with enterprises. I like service providers more because I enjoy transport. I enjoy working with technology used to move traffic across the network. I'm also able to make more money at a service provider because there isn't as many competition compared to an enterprise job.

    @fredrikjj, You're not considered a cost when you have direct impact on the company's revenue. The product is the network and Network Engineers help build and maintain the network. Similar to how Software Developers are not a cost at a software company. With zero technical employees, you have zero product. Therefore, you'll have zero revenue which is going to suck for your profit margin.
  • MitMMitM Posts: 555Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    The cisco service provider track is interesting. I'd like to do the CCNP SP, but 6 exams seems a little much. Too bad my CCNP R&S couldn't serve as a prerequisite :)

    For those working at Service Providers, do you mind sharing which ones you work at?
  • fredrikjjfredrikjj Posts: 879Member
    pevangel wrote: »
    @fredrikjj, You're not considered a cost when you have direct impact on the company's revenue. The product is the network and Network Engineers help build and maintain the network. Similar to how Software Developers are not a cost at a software company. With zero technical employees, you have zero product. Therefore, you'll have zero revenue which is going to suck for your profit margin.

    You could argue that technical employees are considered more important at a service provider and that they therefore are treated better or whatever. They are still a cost. You don't hire more engineers than you need because they cost money. The product is selling a service to customers, and the network (and the people that run it) are a cost you need to incur to be able to offer this service. Frankly, I find your post kind of of confusing. Software developers are not a cost at a software company? What?
  • networker050184networker050184 Posts: 11,962Mod Mod
    Everyone is a cost of course. You're missing the other part of it though. Take a company that does plumbing for example. Plumbers are what the business are built around. An ISP business is built around the network and the people that build and operate it. Neither is going to hire more plumbers or engineers than they need. That'd be dumb. But there are certain people that are the core of the business and valued as such.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • pevangelpevangel Posts: 342Member
    It's the terminology. I get that anything that cost money is a cost. I worked for a small service provider and had discussed financials with my boss many times. They didn't consider engineers a cost (their term) because we generated revenue. The company was selling services that the engineers provided. Our services were the product. As opposed to front desk personnel, HR, and the executive team. They're needed for the company to run but they don't generate any money. I guess asset vs expense would have been better terms, but I thought it was pretty obvious what I was trying to get at. Just like it was pretty obvious what networker was trying to get at when he said he preferred working for a service provider for being part of the business.

    You found my post confusing but a service provider without staff to provide services makes sense?
  • fredrikjjfredrikjj Posts: 879Member
    pevangel wrote: »
    [...]
    As opposed to front desk personnel, HR, and the executive team. They're needed for the company to run but they don't generate any money.

    An angry customer calls support and is about to cancel their service but due to the great customer service skills of the support agent, the customer changes her mind. The company continues to receive monthly payments they otherwise wouldn't have received.

    The HR division of the service provider has good insight into how to hire the best engineers for the company. Thanks go their efforts, a key engineer is hired from a competitor. This engineer then implements cost saving technology using network automation tools 12 months earlier than if this engineer hadn't come aboard.

    Marketing department launches a successful campaign that brings in 1,000 new customers.

    It seems to me that people in other roles than technical ones generate money for the company.
  • networker050184networker050184 Posts: 11,962Mod Mod
    It seems like you're just being difficult for the sake of being difficult. I think you get the point regardless.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
Sign In or Register to comment.