System administrator or system engineer?

Published on August 26, 2015

System administrator or system engineer?

    Good afternoon friends.

    In this post, I would like to talk (and discuss) about how the professions of a system administrator and systems engineer differ (and what are similar), what are their advantages, what are their disadvantages, and why.

    The post aims to consider the proposed topic and is aimed at a young IT audience, which is still at the beginning of the movement along the career and professional ladders. So who are interested, welcome to cat. There will be a lot of letters.

    So why is all this necessary? In my opinion, a young specialist does not always have an understanding of where to move globally. It is clear that many people want to be bosses, managers, their own business, etc., but in any case, you must be aware that this is still the lot of a very small part of people. Due to both objective and subjective reasons, which we will not consider here. From my own experience I’ll say that there’s nothing wrong with being a techie in 40+ years. I personally like t.s. “Turn the nuts”, and I didn’t really like the experience of a managerial position. Both in terms of what needs to be done, and in terms of the environment in which you have to work. If it is interesting, I can tell you in an update why after working for about a year as a leader, I still returned to techies and money prospects did not become a deterrent.

    In admins I went at the call of heart and soul. It was back in 1996. I honestly admit that from that moment and for a sufficiently long period I did not bother myself with the terminology of my position. Admin and admin or "doing computers." Therefore, in my work there are records of very surprising content. Up to the "computer systems mechanic." I’m not lying. It later became clear that there is a helpdesk, there are admins, there is a first line, a second, etc. Having started work with a tiny company with 10 computers, I reached the company with a fleet of about 300 PCs in one-on-one servicing (do not try to repeat this experience, I highly recommend not following the results of physical and mental balance and a long recovery period after) and about 1500 PCs admin in the team. In total, I worked as an administrator for 14 years, changing my place of work about every 3 years. Then he moved to the integrator to the position of system engineer, where I successfully work at the current moment (and have no desire to leave). Therefore, I can both compare and evaluate both of these professions and highlight both the pros and cons of both. What I want to share below.

    For 14 years and some job rotation, I have developed for myself a model of the life cycle of working as an administrator in an office. About half a year is spent on entering the course of business (usually you take an office with a ready-made infrastructure of one or another depth of curvature in your opinion a professional). Sometimes less, sometimes more. Then you comb the system for about a year, subordinating it to a clear ideology, when the system becomes intuitive and you clearly put everything in its place. Then, for about another six months, you enjoy the “god” mode, when everything works, and you, hand on heart, are already picking your nose. But you are still interested. And after this period, which usually fits in two years, you begin to get bored. For if my model is correct, then everything works for you, you solve problems less and less involving the brain, and as the hero of Vitsin said in one short film, "There is no romanticism." And somewhere, after a year of reflection, you are writing a statement, changing your place to a warmer, more satisfying, profitable, calm, etc. and the cycle repeats. Please note that the last part, when you start to miss this is my subjective perception. I know a lot of admins who are striving for this.

    So, what good is a system administrator? Firstly, if you do not work in an IT company (and this is most often), then you work with people who do not understand anything in what you are doing. Yes, and they are not particularly interested. The main thing is not being cut with them for days on end in any toys. It really infuriates some. Secondly, the work of the admin is pretty well paid. Thirdly, you work in comfortable living conditions (warm, light and do not bite flies). And if you are a good admin, you have personal time and certain leverage. Most often, you will be loved by management, and this is a valuable property, because other admins do not always seek to love and need someone who will protect you from aggressive madmen. But this is provided that you are a really good admin. Well, sane leadership is also welcome.

    It would seem that the administration is a dream job. But is it? Let's look at the disadvantages of working as an administrator. Firstly, the first minus that you come across is money. When you upgrade yourself to a fairly powerful admin and come to a stable company where everything is stable, then come to terms with the fact that how much you bargain for yourself at the interview is likely to be the ceiling. Well, maybe plus another 10 percent. In very rare cases, 20 after a year or two of work. This follows from the fact that the volume of tasks that you will solve is unlikely to change dramatically. Qualitatively, yes, but it depends on your cleanliness and diligence. But this is so your job. Otherwise, everything will be characterized by “what do you pay more for?” Secondly, you will solve the same problems. They, of course, will have different sources, but some kind of common nature. Thirdly, you will study anything beyond the needs of the company yourself and at the expense of your resources. You are given a network with antivirus, mail and the Internet - that’s all. Get involved. Do you want to pump over tsiska, telephony, video conferencing or programming - this is your personal. And the mailer will be the same and antivirus. Therefore, if you want to study something fundamentally new in detail, then most often it will be a change of work.

    Well, the main problem of the admin, in my opinion (maybe this is already nervous). You work, time is running out. You grow up, young grow up. And they are already starting to breathe in your back. On the one hand, you manage the infrastructure very well, but on the other hand, with age, you are costing companies more and more (one way or another), and here is the turn with a blazing look and ready to work for food. So the possibility of your loss in such a confrontation is not excluded. And the transfer of cases is just a matter of documentation detail. Of course, in this paragraph there is a certain grotesqueness, but such an option cannot be ruled out. And since admin for a long time one place you become a highly specialized specialist, the search for a new job can become a task.

    As a conclusion, we can say that the administrator works calmly, but boringly, financially, but not the fact that this is a very long time. And you quickly get used to the measured schedule.

    In the end, what I wrote above is my own conclusion, which I made several years ago. And after such a conclusion, I decided that we should go to the engineers. I did not work as an engineer for long. Less than five years old. But this, in my opinion, is enough for certain conclusions. Although it’s decisive for me that I really do not want to change jobs.

    So what good is an engineer? I consider the work of an engineer in a system integrator. Those. in a company that designs solutions for many customers. The most important thing that attracts an engineer to work is constantly something new, constantly pumping knowledge and skills. The customer has their own admins who are engaged in what I described above. And you, as an engineer, having designed one system (or subsystem) get a task for another, third, etc. And they all are not alike. Moreover, you can get a task for which you will need to spend time learning. And in the integrator, this is normal. None of your knowledge will be superfluous, because no one knows what will “shoot” in the next order and this is encouraged. Of course, if this does not go against your current task. This is the first. Secondly, you will most likely to be certified in various areas. An integrator needs to have certified specialists on staff to receive orders. And this is again pumping, because sometimes you don’t have to give everything you want. Thirdly, these are possible business trips. How many can boast that, for example, traveled all over Russia, having been to all its subjects? And you can. After all, customers are anywhere. It may even be abroad (but this is so, it is possible, but ...). Fourth, you can move widely in requests for zp No one is holding you back "it is not necessary." It is necessary. And the more valuable you are for the project, the better you will be appreciated. These are possible business trips. How many can boast that, for example, traveled all over Russia, having been to all its subjects? And you can. After all, customers are anywhere. It may even be abroad (but this is so, it is possible, but ...). Fourth, you can move widely in requests for zp No one is holding you back "it is not necessary." It is necessary. And the more valuable you are for the project, the better you will be appreciated. These are possible business trips. How many can boast that, for example, traveled all over Russia, having been to all its subjects? And you can. After all, customers are anywhere. It may even be abroad (but this is so, it is possible, but ...). Fourth, you can move widely in requests for zp No one is holding you back "it is not necessary." It is necessary. And the more valuable you are for the project, the better you will be appreciated.

    So, it turns out that this is an engineer - a dream job? Not. Because and she has cons. Firstly, business trips. Have to ride. Not everyone loves it. It is not always comfortable or convenient. For example, I had a business trip when for three days I made two flights, 21 hours on a train, 6 hours on a regular bus and three hours in a taxi. Secondly, this is scribble. In contrast to the administrator, the engineer “twists the nuts” is incommensurably less. Basically, this torsion is on the stands, because commissioning is carried out according to a set of documents that you write. Therefore, I have to write a lot. Sometimes very. Thirdly, much will be required to study. Sometimes even in the mode when you don’t know what to grab onto, and some decision is already expected from you.

    As a conclusion, we can say that it is very interesting to work as an engineer, but sometimes there is a lot of work and it is 70% theoretical. But the engineer does not suffer from the “occipital breathing” of the admin. An engineer becomes like cheese, when the usual one is one price, and with mold it is already much more expensive.

    Personally, the work of an engineer allowed me to take a different look at the work of the admin. Because I talked a lot and communicate with administrators, then I see that they really lack integrated, systematic thinking when we first design, and then we put the server on my shoulder and “went to implement”. And in the end, you will finally find out that the words "servers", "processors", "contracts" are written this way, and not otherwise.

    Yes, both the admin and the engineer are horizontal movement, but in my opinion, the admin is much more vulnerable in the long run. Although, other things being equal, the administrator will certainly work much more comfortably.

    Good luck to everyone who has read this stream to the end. I hope this helps with orientation in the difficult world of computer science. I will be happy to answer questions if such arise.