Salary Surveys, Storage and Tech Policies

Our readers comment on past issues.

A System Administrator's Plea
I love to read salary surveys. I'm one of those "big iron" people and I'm happier after reading that I'm on the higher end of things. The surveys are also helpful in career planning. Thank you for running your January cover story.

I'm not one of the 50-plus crowd in the data center yet! But I'm definitely older than average. And while being older than average gives me the breadth and depth advantages as a professional, right now it's causing me a bit of confusion. I read ES's salary survey ("Big Iron Pays Big," January 2002), but now I've got a (gentle) bone to pick with the terms used.

I had to read through the article hunting for the definitions Joseph McKendrick was using before I could start reading the eye-catching tables and it was kind of frustrating. I must gently and historically object to Mr. McKendrick's use/interchange of "network administrator" and "system administrator."

To me, a "network administrator" is the guy who manages the LAN/WAN connections, the Cisco routers, runs cable, and the like. If you're lucky, he might know a thing or two about looking at networking on the host side so that he can help you fix it. He doesn't set up computers, domains, printers or any of that.

What I've just described is not what I do. I'm a "system administrator." My job mostly stops at the network card. I don't "monitor, troubleshoot and maintain networks." I monitor, troubleshoot and maintain the nodes attached to a network, but I never touch the network infrastructure itself. And neither do many Microsoft folks (so-called "network administrators") ever touch the network backbone, particularly in large installations. They administer networked hosts, not networks. The division of labor I'm talking about is fairly common among those whose primary job is Unix. (And sometimes we are both a system and a network administrator—in the classical sense of the roles.) Sorry for the verbiage and sorry if you've heard it before. I hope my perspective might be useful in understanding your older readers.

I guess I'm classed as a "network administrator," and I'd have to say that for my geographical area, the printed salary range of 45K-65K doesn't seem too representative based on people I know. For our area, I'd say it's more like 35K-90K. I've even seen ads (non-contractor) above 100K.

Thanks for your time and sorry for the rambling!

Name withheld by request

A very informative and thoughtful note. I have to admit, I put the network and database administrator categories under the subhead "Systems Administrator" as an overarching title. This probably caused the confusion, because, as this reader correctly points out, systems administration is a discipline in and of itself that deals at the operating system and server level. Our network administrator classification was meant to cover the folks that handle routers, switches, etc. System administrator is a job title we missed this time around, but will include in future surveys!

—Joseph McKendrick

Storage Strategies
This letter is to clarify my statements cited in Jon Toigo's Enterprise Systems e-mail newsletter article "Storage Strategies: WideSky or Blue Sky?" (Jan. 11, 2002) regarding EMC's AutoIS initiative.

While EMC and Storability Inc. are both working to resolve the challenges of heterogeneous storage infrastructure management, it is apparent that our respective efforts are unique.

With billions invested in R&D and interoperability, EMC's status as an innovator in developing solutions that solve customer's storage needs is without question.

Storability considers EMC to be a valued partner and a respected leader in this business, and we recognize the many contributions the company has made to the industry.

Kirby Wadsworth
VP of Marketing
Storability Inc.

Technology Policies and Issues
I enjoyed Laura Wonnacott's Business of Technology column in the January 2002 edition of Enterprise Systems ("Take Charge of Your Future"). As a Master's degree candidate in Information and Communication Sciences in the Center for Information and Communication Sciences at Ball State University, I'm in the process of learning about the issues, legal challenges and opportunities that are present within the technology we use.

Because there are so many issues, such as taxation, security and privacy, etc., I feel it's important to more clearly understand the most vital issues so I may focus my preparations and studies. As part of that process, I'm attempting a small ad hoc Delphi survey, and would appreciate Laura's input, if she's so inclined. The question is, "What are the top five (or so) issues/policies you feel will determine the overall ‘fate' of the Internet and e-business?" I'm interested in all input, but especially in landmark cases or legislative efforts that apply.

Thank you in advance,
Charles Tuite
Muncie, Ind.

Thanks for the note Charles! I agree—the list of issues facing Internet, e-business, and IT in general is quite long. It's tough to pick the top five, but since you asked, I would consider including the following:

The Microsoft Case: Many think it's over now that the federal appeals court unanimously reversed Microsoft's breakup and ordered a new judge. Any decision regarding Microsoft will have a huge impact in the technology marketplace. It seems that folks either love or hate Microsoft, but a decision in either direction will affect all.

The Patriot Act: It recently passed and many believe it tramples on our Bill of Rights. We'll have to see what transpires given time. One of the thorniest issues relates to Carnivore, which is a program designed by the FBI to intercept Internet communications.

Peer-to-Peer Legislation: This legislation should be watched carefully. By far, Napster has had the bulk of the public eye.

Anti-spam Legislation: There's a lot of it out there, but it always seems stalled. The FTC plays a huge role in anti-spam legislation. We all know spam is a pain to deal with and the Internet would perform much better without it, but there are many marketing associations that are powerful lobbyists.

Hacker Prosecution: Mafiaboy was sentenced last September. It shows that we'll prosecute, but the fine was a mere $165 and detention for less than 12 months. Clearly, the cost of lost business to Amazon, Yahoo, eBay, etc. far exceeded Mafiaboy's punishment.

—Laura Wonnacott