The initial distinction is based on the definition of both a network and a system. A network refers to the connectivity of devices so as to facilitate transfer of data whereas systems are devices that are in a position to carry out electronic work for example a computer, server among others.
Though many organizations use system administration and network administration interchangeably there is a great need to differentiate the two in terms of job responsibilities and equipments. Nevertheless, complicated and large network installations for instance data center or complex system administration centers for example an office with a single Unix workstations utilized for programming or graphics all require a specialized network and systems administrator so that he or she can best deal with the requirements for installations. Network administration specifically deals with management of software, devices and hardware that are part of the network. Systems administration on the other hand deals with the computers or devices that are connected or linked to a particular network. Under the network administration the following will be available modems, routers and switches whereas within the system administration the following devices will be available database servers, computer systems, mails servers among other servers. (Hunt, 2005)
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Another distinction rests in the different activities that take place in each of them. Under system administration the activities that are involved include installation of software together with software patches or updates on servers and computers, proactive response to security threats on the system, planning outages, ensuring that solutions are available to problems that relates to databases and mails servers so as to minimize distractions on the users. It is of great importance to note that the above mentioned system administration responsibilities do not entails application programming and development since they largely represents a software engineer profile. However this does not limit the system administrator knowledge on all the application since they are required to have an in depth know how concerning hardware and software installations, trouble shooting any reported problem, configurations and known-problems. The other duties include; analyzing system logs and identifying potential issues with computer system, introducing and integrating new technologies into existing data center environments, performing routine audits of systems and software, performing backups, installing and configuring new software and hardware. Also adding, removing or updating user account information and resetting passwords, answering technical queries, documentation of the configuration of the system, system performance tuning and ensuring that the network infrastructure is up and running.
On the other hand network administrations involve the following activities. The network administrator is supposed to set up networks among different users and also provide solutions to all network related problems that are faced by the network users. While setting up the network the system administrator is expected to configure switches and routers and ensure that all the users are connected to the network. The network created will be based on the organizations requirement where in most cases it can be either a wireless or a wired network. In addition the network administrator will come up with both the access and security policies for the networks. This gives the network manager the power to control the individuals to access the network and the credentials to be used.
Together with the system administrator the network manager should have hand on experience on how to detect and prevent security threats on the network. This will be coupled by a quick response to attacks and prevention of there spread on the entire network. The network administrators, besides administering the Local Area Networks (LAN) they also administer virtual networks and Wide Area Network (WAN). They also need to be well conversant with the latest development in technology so that they can make the network to be more efficient and robust. They also are responsible for network and computer hardware maintenance, give advice concerning required standardization of devices being procured, carrying out new installs, ensuring that licenses are up to date and are paid, monitor the network to ensure that it is properly working and check for bad practices such as poor management of data. At times other circumstances such as technological infrastructure and the user base necessitate the distinction between systems and network administration due to its difference in network specialty and job prescriptions. (Hunt, 2005)
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With the system administration the administrator is just required to have a general knowledge in information technology because he or she is required to work in a very wide range of capacities whereas network administration will require the administrator to have specialized skills on particular network equipments such as juniper or CISCO. Again the two will have to learn two different languages where a network administrator will have to speak CISCO routers language known as IOS while the systems administrator will learn among others programs such as PHP, Perl, C++ and many other necessary to maintain financial applications, web pages or Apache servers.
In conclusion, systems administrators functions do overlap with that of network administrator, therefore from an academic point of view it is advisable for any individuals to undertake both so as to perfectly fit in to the current job market where organizations are cutting down cost and trying as much as possible to be technologically competitive.
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