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Difference Between Network Administration and System Administration

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Definition of a Network Administration

The major role of a network administrator is keeping the organization’s computer network up-to-date and operate the network as per requirements. The organization which has multiple networks in a single branch or single network in multiple branches requires a network administrator to correct and coordinate the network if needed (Mushi & Dutta, 2014).

Tasks of a Network Administration

1) Designing and planning the network: - It is the first phase of responsibility of the network administrator which involves designing of a network according to the users’ need. In designing and planning, the network administrator is required to take decision about the suitable network. In large organizations, large architect performs the network designing.

2) Setting and configuration of the network: In the phase, different devices like hosts, routers, servers etc. are configured and also, the database is configured for storing the information while transferring the data. It also includes the security policies configuration to secure the network from any external threat.

3) Maintaining the network: - This phase includes work followed by the network administrator to keep the network up-to-date. The following are the sub-responsibilities of network administrator in the maintaining phase: -

  • Adding, deleting and modifying any host machine to the network as per requirement.
  • To handle the security policies and update security
  • To troubleshoot the network if any issue occurs affecting the performance of the network.

4) Expanding the network: - After a passage of time, an organization grows its network to compete with the other industries. The expansion of the network is one of major responsibilities for network administrator because the administrator is required to modify the network without any shutdown in the business of the organization.


Systems Administration Definition

There are many departments and job responsibilities which are required to be clearer in organizations. Sometimes, the system administrator performs works more than its day-to-day task in order to maintain the data of business inside the mainframe of the organization. The system administrator has more experience in terms of handling different applications (Sommestad & Hunstad, 2013).

Tasks of System Administrator: -

1) Installing Software: - The system administrator’s major responsibility is to keep the computer system working by installing the required software. Another responsibility is to check if the software is outdated or expired.

2) User Profiles: - The system administrator in many organizations is provided with the responsibility to add, delete or maintain users’ profiles according to the employee’s presence.

3) Security Resource: - Security is one of the important parts to keep the data secure from any attack. The system administrator is required to utilize and maintain the security resources, i.e. access-list etc. to protect the system.

4) Managing Storage devices and printers: - The computer systems allow users to connect many external devices like printers, storage etc. for different purposes. Maintaining the storage devices and other devices like printers, keyboards etc. are also his responsibilities.


Are system administrator and network administrator similar?

After comparing the system administrator and network administrator from the definition and tasks performed by them, it is concluded that the working of both depends on the organization. The terms may be interchangeable according to the size of the organization. A smaller organization may hire a single person to perform the work done by the system administrator and network administrator. As compared to a smaller organization, large organization has big campuses and operates business through multiple systems in the network. It hires many people differentiating their roles as a system administrator or network administrator to handle the work. The network administrator and system administrator differ in terms of their knowledge requirement because, the system administrator is required to have the knowledge about the information and technology to handle the work, whereas, the network administrator is required to have a specialized skill to maintain the network equipment’s of different vendors like juniper or cisco. Also, both the administrators require different languages with respect to their working condition. because a network administrator is required to have knowledge about IOS which is commonly used languages in many hardware devices whereas the system administrator requires different programming languages knowledge, i.e. PHP, Perl or C++ to maintain the different applications of the organization.

Conclusion: -

It is concluded that the functions performed by system administrator may overlap with network administrator, but they are different from each other. According to their background knowledge, the organization is needed to assign the work. In the article, the definition of the network administrator and system administrator were provided, whereas the tasks were also discussed to help the users to differentiate between the work performed by them. It is also concluded that both the administration type of work demanded in the current organization scenario due to growth in information technology. In order to pursue a career in the field of system administration and network administration, the user is required to have good knowledge about the languages used in handling the devices or software.  


References: -

Mushi, M., & Dutta, R. (2014). Data-driven Study of Network Administration in the Evolving Landscape of Software Defined Networking. Proceedings Of The 2014 Workshop On Human Centered Big Data Research - HCBDR '14. doi: 10.1145/2609876.2609880

Sommestad, T., & Hunstad, A. (2013). Intrusion detection and the role of the system administrator. Information Management & Computer Security, 21(1). doi: 10.1108/09685221311314400

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