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security high performance enterprise cloud backup services rapidly develop & deploy

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Update 2020-02-17 16:13:05
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Justin Stoltzfus | January 8, 2020
Source: Heiko119

Takeaway: The network administrator is the connector of pieces and the guardian of the network as a whole, but they are also a lot more.

The network administrator is one of the less obscure job roles you'll see in today's IT world. It's familiar to many of us, partly because having a network administrator has been central throughout the entire PC era (personal computer, not political correctness), as infrastructures and environments changed radically.

So what does a network administrator do? One easy observation is that the network administrator’s job is very different now than it was years ago. Beyond that, though, it takes some digging to look at exactly how network administrators work in this day and age.

Changing Times

In the old days, the days of hardware environments, network administration was mainly about stringing workstations together.

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You had physical computers, and you had servers. The network administrator would talk a lot about basic topologies whether the network used a star topology, or a ring topology with a token, or a linear bus you get the picture. The network administrator connected the various pieces, by cabling, or later, by wireless connection, and the network was born.

Network administrators still work on local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN). However, an array of dazzling innovations in technology has really changed the way environments work.

First there's the software defined wide area network (SDWAN) one level of abstraction of the traditional network systems that network administrators managed. Then there's the cloud, and the rise of software as a service (SaaS), which eventually led to virtual environments.

These days, network administrators are often asked to contemplate a technology stack where the network environment is more distributed then the simple hardware systems of the prior age. That means they really have to wear a number of hats.

The role of a network administrator is vast,” said Jorge Rojas, Partner at Tektonic Inc. Dec. 12, describing some of this change and how it affects the corporate role. In addition to managing the network, creating users, resetting passwords etc., there are many other things that have to be considered: implementing best practices in the network, creating group policies in Active Directory- here, the list can get very long, password policy, network drives mapping, network printer mapping…….Most times, a Network Administrator has to be a jack of all trades, making it difficult for the individual to get the job done properly.”

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Rojas also had words for the part of the industry that he feels does not support the NA on the ground.

In most smaller organizations,” he says, they are not provided by the employer with the proper tools to do the job.”

There are clues in public job postings that show the requirement that the network administrator master other auxiliary kinds of technologies beyond traditional networking.

For example, when we looked at some government job ads for network administrators, key qualifications included a Cisco CCNA, which makes abundant sense in the traditional model.

However, going into the private sector, we saw requests for skills with VMware, and even Docker. The reason has to do, again, with ecosystem change.

Connecting the Dots

Networking with virtual machines and containers is different from the traditional approach.

Essentially, network administrators are still responsible for connecting the dots. They have to put together the architecture of nodes and switches, whether that's an entirely hardware-driven structure, or whether their employer company or government agency has moved beyond into the world of virtual machines and containers.

In that sense, employers often want network administrators to have a lot of those soft skills that they also look for in developers, engineers and architects they want the good communication skills, the team-building skills, the ability to report well, the ability to do math and understand algorithms.

To some extent, there's still a focus on traditional network administration, where some calls for working on the more virtualized and ab


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