A network administrator, network analyst or network engineer is a person responsible for the maintenance of computer hardware and software that comprises a computer network. This normally includes deploying, configuring, maintaining and monitoring active network equipment.
The network administrator is usually the highest level of technical staff in an organization and will rarely be involved with direct user support. The network administrator will concentrate on the overall integrity of the network, server deployment, security, and ensuring that the network connectivity throughout a company's LAN/WAN infrastructure is on par with technical considerations at the network level of an organization's hierarchy. Network administrators are considered tier 3 support personnel that only work on break/fix issues that could not be resolved at the tier 1 (helpdesk) or tier 2 (desktop/network technician) levels. Depending on the company, the Network Administrator may also design and deploy networks.
The actual role of the network administrator will vary from company to company, but will commonly include activities and tasks such as network address assignment, assignment of routing protocols and routing table configuration as well as configuration of authentication and authorization – directory services. It often includes maintenance of network facilities in individual machines, such as drivers and settings of personal computers as well as printers and such. It sometimes also includes maintenance of certain network servers: file servers, VPNgateways, intrusion detection systems, etc.
Network administrators may also be technically involved in the maintenance and administration of servers, desktop computers, printers, routers, switches, firewalls, phones, personal digital assistants, smartphones, software deployment, security updates and patches as well as a vast array of additional technologies inclusive of both hardware and software.
Duties of a network administrator
Many organizations use a three tier support staff solution, with tier one (help desk) personnel handling the initial calls, tier two (technicians and pc support analysts) and tier three (network administrators). Most of those organizations follow a fixed staffing ratio, and being a network administrator is either the top job, or next to top job, within the technical support department.
Trouble tickets work their way through the help desk, then through the analyst level support, before reaching the network administrator's level. As a result, in their day-to-day operations, network administrators should not be dealing directly with end users as a routine function. Most of their jobs should be on scheduling and implementing routine maintenance tasks, updating disaster prevention programs, making sure that network backups are run and doing test restores to make sure that those restores are sound.
Network administrators are responsible for making sure that the computer hardware and network infrastructure for an IT organization is properly maintained. They are deeply involved in the procurement of new hardware, rolling out new software installs, maintaining the disk images for new computer installs, making sure that licenses are paid for and up to date for software that need it, maintaining the standards for server installations and applications, and monitoring the performance of the network, checking for security breaches, poor data management practices.
Most network administrator positions require a breadth of technical knowledge and the ability to learn the ins and outs of new networking and server software packages quickly. While the person that designs a network is sometimes called a network engineer, many organizations roll that function into a network administrator position as well.
One of the chief jobs of a network administrator is connectivity. Network administrators are in charge of making sure that connectivity works for all users in their organization, and for making sure that data security for connections to the internet is properly handled.
Training and certifications for network administrators
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