System Admin Vs Network Admin Vs Security

ProFamousProFamous Posts: 63Member ■■□□□□□□□□
So I have been looking at the various paths in IT here lately and there have been two major ones that stick out after entry level. First is the MCSA->MCSE route(systems admin), second is CCNA->CCNP route(network admin). For any of you that are in the industry, what are the differences of the day to day tasks of a net vs sys admin? Having very limited experience it is hard to differentiate between the two. Also, Security seems like a pretty big area in IT as well, however this path often involves network and system admin responsibilities as well. And other parts (such as forensics) has almost nothing to do with net and sys admin responsibilites. For you in security, how would you say your job is different than simple ol' net or sys admins? Just trying to separate these paths, seems to be much overlap. Thanks!

Comments

  • docricedocrice Posts: 1,706Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    Depends on the org you work for. Smaller businesses tend to have generalists who can handle multiple areas but typically lack really deep skills and knowledge in a given subject. Some places (likely larger businesses) will have specialists who can dive deep into their repective areas but lack the bigger picture.

    Security might also not be as operational (making inline configuration changes) as systems and network groups and instead focus more on audit, passive identification, and event correlation. Depends on how the org wants to do separation of duties.
    Hopefully-useful stuff I've written: http://kimiushida.com/bitsandpieces/articles/
  • lsud00dlsud00d Posts: 1,571Member
    Just to touch on a few of your points and give realistic timelines. The following timeframes are assuming that the end goal is your sole focal point.

    Sys Admin

    The MCSA is 3 exams. It is possible to do these at the pace of one per quarter, so anywhere from 6 months to a year is your typical MCSA completion period.

    The MCSE is MCSA + 2 exams, so 5 total. Potential completion time for this is 1 year to 1.5 years.

    Network Engineer

    The CCNA can be achieved in one exam. The Full CCNA is a lot of material and the average time to complete is 3-6 months.

    The CCNP (R&S) is CCNA + 3* exams. This is a guess but I'd imagine the average CCNP R&S completion time is 6 months - 1 year.

    Security [insert position here]

    Security draws from all other disciplines because you have to know how to break something in order to fix (secure) it. There are also more infosec/GRC-centric positions that stray away from the technical side of things.

    Edit: thanks @fredrikjj, I even knew it was Route, Switch, and Tshoot! I'm a dummy sometimes ;)
  • fredrikjjfredrikjj Posts: 879Member
    lsud00d wrote: »

    The CCNA can be achieved in one exam. The Full CCNA is a lot of material and the average time to complete is 3-6 months.

    The CCNP (R&S) is CCNA + 1 exam. This is a guess but I'd imagine the average CCNP R&S completion time is 6 months - 1 year.

    Sounds about right in terms of time, but CCNP (RS) is 3 exams after CCNA.
  • N2ITN2IT Posts: 7,483Inactive Imported Users
    Then you have the challenge of the name of the position being the other. How many times have you seen a job listed as network admin but you read the description and it's all servers? I have A LOT.
  • MrEvolutionMrEvolution Posts: 1Registered Users ■□□□□□□□□□
    Good points Thanks for the information!
  • ProFamousProFamous Posts: 63Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    Hey thanks for the replies, I am aware of what the certifications entail, however the actual day to day activities are what I am asking about. I can see how smaller environments may have generalists, however as someone said, in larger environments there are "specialists". I am trying to differentiate between, say, a specialist in system administration versus a specialist in network administration. One cannot exist without the other, the way I see it, so what are the differences in large businesses? Thank you for your time.
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 2,091Member ■■■■■■■■■■
    ProFamous wrote: »
    I am trying to differentiate between, say, a specialist in system administration versus a specialist in network administration. One cannot exist without the other, the way I see it, so what are the differences in large businesses? Thank you for your time.

    One works on servers, the other works on network.
    2018 Certification Goals: Maybe VMware Sales Cert
    "Simplify, then add lightness" -Colin Chapman
  • MrAgentMrAgent Posts: 1,305Member ■■■■■■■□□□
    Just echoing what dave330i mentioned. It's about a simple as an explanation as you can get.
    Someone with an MCSA/MCSE would work on Microsoft servers and someone with a CCNA/CCNP would work on CISCO equipment.
  • DigitalZeroOneDigitalZeroOne Posts: 234Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    My opinion is biased since I'm a System Admin, but I feel as if this path has more opportunities, mainly because there are so many different areas. You have Windows Admin, DBA (SQL), VMware, SharePoint, Exchange, and so on. I realize VMware isn't in the Microsoft realm, so you can exchange that for Hyper-V. I'm partial to VMware, so I put it there.

    I did have a CCENT at one point, and I enjoyed working with Cisco for the short time that I did, but VMware/Windows/PowerShell have really taken over my life, and PowerShell specifically has made everything more fun. If you're going to go the Microsoft route, learn PowerShell.

    I actually have to get some work completed, so I don't really have time to go over day-to-day tasks, I just wanted to through in my 2 cents for the Sys Admin route.
  • beadsbeads Posts: 1,439Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    lsud00d wrote: »
    Just to touch on a few of your points and give realistic timelines. The following timeframes are assuming that the end goal is your sole focal point.

    Sys Admin

    The MCSA is 3 exams. It is possible to do these at the pace of one per quarter, so anywhere from 6 months to a year is your typical MCSA completion period.

    The MCSE is MCSA + 2 exams, so 5 total. Potential completion time for this is 1 year to 1.5 years.

    Network Engineer

    The CCNA can be achieved in one exam. The Full CCNA is a lot of material and the average time to complete is 3-6 months.

    The CCNP (R&S) is CCNA + 3* exams. This is a guess but I'd imagine the average CCNP R&S completion time is 6 months - 1 year.

    Security [insert position here]

    Security draws from all other disciplines because you have to know how to break something in order to fix (secure) it. There are also more infosec/GRC-centric positions that stray away from the technical side of things.

    Edit: thanks @fredrikjj, I even knew it was Route, Switch, and Tshoot! I'm a dummy sometimes ;)

    Agreed but will add that security is best AFTER you've had a solid career in IT first. Nothing worse than having to teach the above skills first then teach n00bs business analysis techniques, security (which is really audit), governance, regulations and compliance in a few short lessons and expect them to be able to do anything worthwhile in the first year. Just ask my brand new 18 year old security intern I was recently saddled. He's taking his first day off today. Also his first two weeks.

    Thankfully his executive parents thought ahead and sent snacks and diapers for their boy as well.

    File under: Long summer.

    -b/eads
  • kurosaki00kurosaki00 Posts: 973Member
    Like I commented some time ago in the forums. What I usually see out there is that system admins and network admins roles look very similar. They share a lot of duties, but network admins have a bit more network heavy duties, while systems got their systems duties.
    But usually both do servers, email accounts, win server, cent os... you name it.
    It's a very blurry line.
    Security.. I dont know in detail Our security team authorize apps before they can be allowed in the network, review services, certificates, policies... bunch of stuff.
    meh
  • echo_time_catecho_time_cat Posts: 74Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    N2IT wrote: »
    Then you have the challenge of the name of the position being the other. How many times have you seen a job listed as network admin but you read the description and it's all servers? I have A LOT.

    I see this all the time, so much so that I think I may need to tack on the MCSA just to be considered for a Network Admin role in the future...

    One thing I'm noticing is the tendancy to actually post the job as "Sys Admin/Network Admin"... at least they are coming right out and saying "we want someone who can do both." The only disappointment I feel with that, is that they likely won't pay you both salaries combined icon_wink.gif
  • renacidorenacido Posts: 387Member
    Do Systems or Networking for two years, then ask about how to transition into Security if you're still interested.

    NO ONE should start their IT career in Security, you have to know both Systems and Networks to be able to secure either of them.
  • pevangelpevangel Posts: 342Member
    From my experience: systems admin = network admin. If you want to go into a strictly networking route, then you'd want to look for a Network Engineer job for a service provider or large company.
  • KrusaderKrusader Posts: 109Member
    I believe you should have a good foundation in all disciplines of IT Operations.
    So for server administration you should look at MCSA/RHCSA (depending on your environment)
    CCNA R&S for networking ( the theory you learn here will hold true for other vendors and the commands are very similar for a lot of vendors except for maybe JunOS)
    Depending on your Hypervisor solution learn either VCP\Hyper-V\Xen\KVM etc.

    Other technologies you should pick up with experience as your career progresses like Storage and Databases. Also scripting, Powershell/Bash/Python/Ruby

    Security should come last because you need to know what to secure and why it needs to be secured
    2018 Goals
    AWS & Linux Knowledge
Sign In or Register to comment.