System Administrator - Long term plan

minitminit Posts: 76Registered Members ■■□□□□□□□□
Businesses continue to consolidate hardware, and move towards cloud providers. Job openings aren't quite as plentiful. We are good for now, but I have another 20+ years of work to go.

Are you a system admin? How are you preparing for the future?

Comments

  • yoba222yoba222 Posts: 860Registered Members ■■■■□□□□□□
    I simply can't perceive the demand for computer-related administration of things shrinking over the next 20 years. Sure it may consolidate a bit in the so called cloud, but demand will only grow, and exponentially at that. Other than staying sharp, I'm not going to do a darn thing.
    2018: CySA+ | PenTest+ | CCNA Cyber Ops
    2019: eCPPT &/or OSCP | CISSP
  • N7ValiantN7Valiant Posts: 283Registered Members ■■■□□□□□□□
    I always assumed cloud providers just really meant that all the sys admin jobs would move to Amazon or something. Even if you don't need as much physical hardware, all the software still needs to be patched, the systems configured, etc. It's not like the number of businesses have gone down any right?

    In interviewing for a job with a small to medium size business, while they advertised that they wanted help switching from MS Access to a cloud service, the person in charge did emphasize that it was really something far out in the future that's more difficult for a smaller business.
  • crimsonavengercrimsonavenger Posts: 27Registered Members ■□□□□□□□□□
    N7Valiant wrote: »
    I always assumed cloud providers just really meant that all the sys admin jobs would move to Amazon or something. Even if you don't need as much physical hardware, all the software still needs to be patched, the systems configured, etc. It's not like the number of businesses have gone down any right? In interviewing for a job with a small to medium size business, while they advertised that they wanted help switching from MS Access to a cloud service, the person in charge did emphasize that it was really something far out in the future that's more difficult for a smaller business.
    maintained, deployed, fireballed, etc. Correct. If anything it will have more of an impact on networking roles, especially in the enterprise level environment. Sure you will still have some requirements for specialties and legacies, but the overall demand in the marketplace with eventually shrink. What used to take the job of a team can now be handled by one or two people.
  • cbdudekcbdudek Posts: 67Registered Members ■■□□□□□□□□
    I have been in the industry for over 20 years now. In that time, I have seen certain IT job areas grow (security) and shrink (mainframe programming). The key to long term employment not only relies on your knowledge and skills, but your ability to be flexible and work well with others are even more important. New technology and methods can be taught to people who are flexible and work well with others.

    Systems administrator jobs may change a bit over time, but I don't see them decreasing. If you think about it, yes, there are more and more ways to centralize deployment and management, but there are more and more devices that people are carrying with them which will increase the amount of support needed. You may even see organizations start to outsource their administration of systems to other local organizations, which will need systems admins in their NOC to assist with deployment and maintenance. In the end, I don't see this segment decreasing, but staying about the same or increasing slightly.

    https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/network-and-computer-systems-administrators.htm#tab-1

    If you want a long term plan because you are scared of the job market in systems administration, then look at security or network engineering. Security is huge right now. There are over 2 million unfilled security jobs in the industry right now. Focusing on that will not only improve the quality of security in your organization now, but will give you valuable experience to get a security engineer job later.
  • volfkhatvolfkhat Posts: 942Registered Members ■■■■■■■□□□
    minit wrote: »
    Businesses continue to consolidate hardware, and move towards cloud providers. Job openings aren't quite as plentiful...

    yep.
    I've been saying it for while now on this forum.
    Some people are fooling themselves about the impact of Amazon, etc.

    TRUST what your own eyes are telling you.

    I got out of SysAdmin in 2016. (doing network now; will be learning scripting/programming next).
  • minitminit Posts: 76Registered Members ■■□□□□□□□□
    Volfkhat I agree. I know of two people personally with 10+ years of experience as admins who were let go. In both cases their environments were migrated to AWS. The responsibility of managing the AWS was handed over to their dev team.

    I'm not saying the role is going away, but openings are and will continue to contract. Developers are becoming more involved in operations.
  • LeBrokeLeBroke Posts: 484Registered Members ■■■■□□□□□□
    minit wrote: »
    Volfkhat I agree. I know of two people personally with 10+ years of experience as admins who were let go. In both cases their environments were migrated to AWS. The responsibility of managing the AWS was handed over to their dev team.

    Sweet, I'll probably be paid to unduck it later.

    People think cloud is this magical place that's easy to make work (and on some level yeah, you don't have to worry about hardware, storage, or networking), but it doesn't take away the need for someone to write automation, manage systems, security, and lay out the architecture in a semi-logical manner. Moderately easy with 3 servers, becomes difficult when you have 100+.
  • minitminit Posts: 76Registered Members ■■□□□□□□□□
    Lebroke,

    Can you provide some details on your current position? I see your studying AWS, would be great to hear about what you do.

    Thanks
  • MIMEMIME Posts: 36Registered Members ■■□□□□□□□□
    volfkhat wrote: »
    yep.
    I've been saying it for while now on this forum.
    Some people are fooling themselves about the impact of Amazon, etc.

    TRUST what your own eyes are telling you.

    I got out of SysAdmin in 2016. (doing network now; will be learning scripting/programming next).

    I agree wholeheartedly. I was a sysadmin for 15+ years and after a layoff in 2016 looked at the handwriting on the wall. Yes there are jobs, always will be, but fewer and fewer. For me I decided that I didn't want to be in a field that wasn't going anywhere with too many years left in the job market to be bored for the rest of my career. I researched and made the switch to cyber security which is a growing field, not contracting AND I'm finding my sysadmin experience is very valuable background.
  • LeBrokeLeBroke Posts: 484Registered Members ■■■■□□□□□□
    minit wrote: »
    Lebroke,

    Can you provide some details on your current position? I see your studying AWS, would be great to hear about what you do.

    Thanks
    Literally started a thread to decide on two job offers less than a month ago :)

    http://www.techexams.net/forums/jobs-degrees/130386-help-me-decide-job-offer.html

    (FYI went with company A and started working there last week).
  • minitminit Posts: 76Registered Members ■■□□□□□□□□
    How did you gain the experience to get this type of job? Can you describe your career path?

    Thanks again.
  • LeBrokeLeBroke Posts: 484Registered Members ■■■■□□□□□□
    Short version is:

    1. Very part time work for an infosec company. Initially more desktop support related tasks ("hey can you give us a machine that has X, Y and Z on it?"), then some basic script kiddie pentesting.

    2. Got my CCNA, applied for a bunch of jobs. Took one at a data centre (as opposed to a desktop support job that paid a few $ more but was pretty far away and wanted me there in the morning). $15/hour and graveyards really sucked, but I was able to learn a lot by playing with Linux. The whole place was held together by duct tape, which really helped learn and troubleshoot stuff. Implemented a pretty cool project with a PXE boot system.

    3. Got a job as a Linux sysadmin. Only reason I got it is because most people who applied asked for like double the pay I did (I asked for mid-40s, got 46, most people probably asked for 70k+). Kind of got baited and switched and ended up doing mostly application support (for our application's end users), though still got to touch Linux admin stuff. Had a fair amount of free time (i.e. Fridays WFH which basically ended up being almost a day off). Studied my ass off to learn how to do stuff. Implemented a monitoring solution, then got my RHCSA.

    4. Recruiter pinged me for a couple of DevOps jobs around the time I was ready to leave. Got lucky again with the opportunity to learn -> we brought in AWS consultants to help us build out our environment and automation, so I was able to get some good practices. Had a lot of free agency as long as I was delivering on what the company needed. Ended up delivering 3 major projects over 2 years, learning a metric ton about AWS (to the point where the only reason a consulting company didn't hire me is internal chaos). Wanted to leave because of upper management in the company started making everything a lot worse. Went from 70k (start) to 76.5k (raise a year later) to 95k (counteroffer) 1.5 years later.

    Opened up my LinkedIn to recruiters, and now I'm here.

    A few key points:

    1. I learn stuff insanely fast. If I see something I don't understand and it looks interesting, I'll Google enough that I can at least hold a decent conversation about it. So I'd be able to answer interview questions on things I only saw once or twice.

    2. I'm very friendly and social, and that carries over to interviews. I joke, mess around, and don't take myself very seriously. It definitely played a huge factor in me getting jobs 3 and 4. Job 3 wanted someone who'd have good people skills to do support (even if they didn't tell me that). Job 4 wanted someone to play liason between different teams, and dev manager himself tended to hire a lot for culture fit once baseline technical skills were met.

    3. I worked close to 60 hours a week at job 4, so while I burned out, I was able to accomplish a lot.

    Interestingly, the only time people cared about certs was for the data centre job (the guy saw the CCNA and he's like, "you're hired"). People didn't even glance at them for any Linux/DevOps jobs.
  • networker050184networker050184 Posts: 11,961Moderators mod
    When you work in a field that moves fast your long term plans should be fluid. I haven't been doing this that long but things have changed immensely in that short time. I've seen plenty people left behind as their skills became outdated and they couldn't be bothered to learn new ones.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • scaredoftestsscaredoftests Posts: 2,559Registered Members ■■■■■■□□□□
    I have always adapted to the environment and always willing to learn new technologies.
    Never let your fear decide your fate....
  • higherhohigherho Posts: 882Registered Members
    Infrastructure is code.. When you see a bulk of your responsibilities being automated and becoming easier. Then you have to think "what else can you do to stay relevant?" Always stay on top and looking ahead. Learn scripting / programming and jump into DEV OPS. If you want to go into Cyber, then your knowledge of systems will easily transfer to Pen testing / Red Team roles.
  • SteveLavoieSteveLavoie Posts: 547Registered Members ■■■■□□□□□□
    Every place I saw where Dev run the prod (either on-premise or in the cloud) is a disaster waiting.
  • minitminit Posts: 76Registered Members ■■□□□□□□□□
    Lebroke,

    Do you feel the RHCSA played a large role in getting job 4 and getting pinged by recruiter? You had no Devops experience prior to that job right?

    Thanks
    Mike
  • minitminit Posts: 76Registered Members ■■□□□□□□□□
    Trying to position myself for something similar :)
  • RHELRHEL Posts: 195Registered Members
    I went from sysadmin (7 years) to engineering. Not sure if I see myself doing this long-term, but it at least provides an additional skill-set and progression -- strategy, architecture/design, budgeting, advising, engineering document authoring.

    Not everyone is going to public cloud. I work for a larger company, and we see 'some' things going to the cloud, not everything. Many companies prefer to have their own internal infrastructure, and many simply cannot go to the cloud as provider such as Amazon cannot guarantee data will stay within the US.

    If anything, I'll probably migrate toward DevOps in the future. I enjoy virtualization, automation, and scripting.
  • LordQarlynLordQarlyn Posts: 535Registered Members
    Well, I've moved into IT management, which means at some point I will be deciding not if but how I should automate, what technologies or platforms to use to automate, and if the company goes to the cloud, be the one to negotiate the contract and hammer out the SLA with the cloud vendor.
  • crimsonavengercrimsonavenger Posts: 27Registered Members ■□□□□□□□□□
    Every place I saw where Dev run the prod (either on-premise or in the cloud) is a disaster waiting.
    agreed, but that doesn't seem to stop businesses from continuing to try
  • LeBrokeLeBroke Posts: 484Registered Members ■■■■□□□□□□
    minit wrote: »
    Lebroke,

    Do you feel the RHCSA played a large role in getting job 4 and getting pinged by recruiter? You had no Devops experience prior to that job right?

    Thanks
    Mike

    Very little. Might have swayed them by a few points, but I was interviewed mostly by devs. They cared a lot more about social skills and that I worked with an extremely similar technology stack (Java, RedHat, MySQL), and had experience with AWS.

    From what I heard after starting, I beat out a more qualified candidate because I came off as friendly.

    IMO, in this world, certs mean almost nothing once you have even a little experience.

    Taking the time to study OOP will pay off a lot more than getting a piece of paper, both in terms of qualifications, and in terms of utility on the job. Problem is showing this off if you have no prior experience in this or a related field. But something like being able to pass a Python coding challenge in an interview >> RHCE, or really, any other cert.

    AWS professional level certs are pretty well regarded, but mostly by consulting companies (partner status and being able to say their staff have it).
  • jpanda206jpanda206 Posts: 20Registered Members ■□□□□□□□□□
    I believe the cloud is something you must learn, and a sys admin will still be doing that job. Maybe just wont be working on hardware, but AD is still AD, Exchange is still Exchange, Storage is still storage, People will still work on Devices that need new deployments. Even though you cant touch it in the cloud, someone still needs to manage it.
  • minitminit Posts: 76Registered Members ■■□□□□□□□□
    LeBroke wrote: »

    Taking the time to study OOP will pay off a lot more than getting a piece of paper, both in terms of qualifications, and in terms of utility on the job. Problem is showing this off if you have no prior experience in this or a related field. But something like being able to pass a Python coding challenge in an interview >> RHCE, or really, any other cert.

    AWS professional level certs are pretty well regarded, but mostly by consulting companies (partner status and being able to say their staff have it).

    Did you have previous experience with OOP? How did you go about learning Python?

    Thanks for all of your replies, this is a big help!
  • TomkoTechTomkoTech Posts: 438Registered Members
    I haven't read all the additional posts, but to answer the OPs questions, "cloud" is a bit of a misnomer.

    My title is Cloud Systems Specialist II.

    My actual duties are systems administration. I work for a software developer. They sell their software to most customers. However we have about 900 that we host the software and their data for them. To them we host it in "the cloud". It's actually hosted on virtual machines, which are hosted on physical servers, in a physical data center.

    So yes. Eventually most companies will be utilizing "cloud" based architecture. However it is still physical machines somewhere. And the virtual machines still need management. Sys Admin positions aren't going anywhere.
  • volfkhatvolfkhat Posts: 942Registered Members ■■■■■■■□□□
    TomkoTech wrote: »
    I haven't read all the additional posts, but to answer the OPs questions, "cloud" is a bit of a misnomer.

    My title is Cloud Systems Specialist II.

    My actual duties are systems administration. I work for a software developer. They sell their software to most customers. However we have about 900 that we host the software and their data for them. To them we host it in "the cloud". It's actually hosted on virtual machines, which are hosted on physical servers, in a physical data center.

    So yes. Eventually most companies will be utilizing "cloud" based architecture. However it is still physical machines somewhere. And the virtual machines still need management. Sys Admin positions aren't going anywhere.


    Your customers will migrate away from you one day.
    They will go to AWS.

    Or, your potential/future customers will never exist.
    Instead of choosing to cloud with your company; they will cloud with AWS.
    They will then trim their own IT staff by x%;.. expecting the remaining workers to manage More with Less.

    End result:
    Your current employer will never expand/grow like they think it will.
    Eventually, You will be fighting to "hang on" to you existing customers.


    For everybody else,
    let me over-simplify:
    Assume that Every Time a company moves to "the cloud"... they terminate 1 Full-time-Employee from their own SysAdmin team.

    Now apply that to a Cloud provider as large as Amazon.
    That is what you call --> Contraction.
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