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vikas027 06-07-2008 02:48 PM

career Advice
Hi all,

I need a career Advice.

About myself -- I have 2 years of work experience as a System Administrator (Linux and Solaris). I am Sun Certified System Administrator on Solaris 10.0 currently working in a MNC.

As for career growth, I am doing 3 year MBA course from distance learning, currently in first year. Will get an MBA degree by 2010, will be having total 5 years of work exp then.

I have a pretty good hand on shell scripting and I am still working to get it better. I don't want to be limited to only system administration. I know it is a vast field but still....

Now, so as to boost my career, I can currently think of two options - Oracle DBA on Solaris/Linux (as it requires Shell Scripting) and Veritas Volume Manager.

I want to know at least basic knowledge of Oracle DBA and seek Oracle certification as I have seen many job openings for Unix+Oracle and both are of my interest, and it carries work in Shell Scripting also.

Can you guyz please help me out ? Am I thinking the right way ?

All suggestions are most welcome.

Thanks in Adv.


MensaWater 06-07-2008 05:24 PM

While there are DBAs that do know shell scripting there are also many more that do not.

It also depends a lot on the size of the company. At small companies you may administer everything from the OS through the Oracle DB and applications. At larger companies you see quite a bit of specialization. Usually at such companies you will have two key positions at the least
-System Administrators (though it may be titled differently). These are the folks who installs and maintains the OS. Usually they also do disk allocations (at server level at least), shell scripting, and may maintain some of the underlying infrastructure applications (e.g. backups, DNS, sendmail). Basically anything that requires root access.
-DBAs - These are the people that typically install and maintain the database products such as Oracle. They typically need to know SQL statements and will do many tasks regarding the database but do NOT typically have access to the root password. At many companies using Oracle EBusiness they also do the application support. At some companies that do things like SAP the SAP Administrator also doubles as the DBA.

There may be subdivisions and other specializations besides the above. For example I've worked at companies that had separate application teams (especially if it isn't SAP or Oracle EBusiness). A few others:
-Data Modelers (DBA specialization)
-Storage Administrator (Disk allocation off arrays presented to the System Admins for specific systems - often it is the System Admins that do this.)
-Backup Administrator - Large installations for things like NetBackup might have separate group that does this.
-Monitoring specialists - Some large companies will use a commercial product like Best1 Patrol for monitoring all systems and may have someone who does just that.
-DNS administration - Sometimes this comes under networking purview but it might come under system admin.
-Mail Administration - It depends a lot on the tool chosen. Some shops will use UNIX/Linux based systems like Sendmail or Postfix and if so the System Admins will do it. Many use things like MS-Exchange or Lotus Notes and typically those will either be administered by an MS Admin or by a specialized admin for the tool itself.

DBAs are in very high demand as are Java developers so if you're looking at it monetarily that might be the way to go. However, good System Admins usually are well paid as well.

As for me I've worked at small shops where I did it all and Fortune 500 companies where I did only the core OS (and associated hardware) as well as positions in between. I've always avoided specializations that would take me away from the System Admin role and have been generally happy doing that.

Typically if it is a large company there is enough going on to keep it interesting regardless of which path you take.

If you're working on an MBA it sounds like your real goal is management and if so I don't think it will matter which path you take. I will say at one Fortune 500 I worked at for several years it was folks that came out of the System Admin team that ended up being director over both the Sys Admins and the DBAs.

vikas027 06-07-2008 08:19 PM

thanks a ton jlightner.

resetreset 07-02-2008 02:13 PM


Originally Posted by vikas027 (Post 3177730)
Hi all,

Can you guyz please help me out ? Am I thinking the right way ?

All suggestions are most welcome.

Thanks in Adv.


If you are programming in shell script, could you learn PHP or something and work making websites? I don't know whether the pay is higher than system admin...

vikas027 10-01-2008 08:39 PM


Originally Posted by jlightner (Post 3177833)
-Storage Administrator (Disk allocation off arrays presented to the System Admins for specific systems - often it is the System Admins that do this.)

How good is the market for Storage Administrators ? I mean if I talk about the monetary part.

Currently, I am System Admin. I have an offer of Unix Storage Administrator.


sundialsvcs 10-01-2008 09:00 PM

Let me suggest "something completely different..."

I've been around this business for, well, "long enough of a time not to wish to draw attention to just how long 'long' might be." :p And let me simply say that, "things sure don't change too much."

Right now, you're approaching the market from the vantage point of the specialist, who invests a great deal of time in "training" and in "highly specialized experience." You spend the rest of your time looking to market that experience, presumably for the very-high dollar amount that you suppose (correctly...) such specialized-experience might obtain.

"So far, so good, but..."

When you pin your career hopes on "advanced training" or "highly specialized experience," your underlying motivation is to place yourself into a highly-exclusive, highly sought-after group. In other words (to quote Willy Wonka), "those who possess 'The Golden Ticket.'" You do this because you have been assured of just how much do-re-mi "Golden Ticket Holders" can command. But... everybody else on this planet has been sold the same story, by those who make their living from selling MBA's and "highly specialized" training.


A far better approach (and one that will preserve many more ... trust me, precious ... hair follicles) is to become a generalist.

Instead of trying to stuff your head with academic-based "skills" in a classroom, get out of school and start jumping off just as many cliffs as you possibly can. "One way or the other, you will 'learn to fly,' or else (*splat!*) it just won't matter anymore."

Somehow, you managed to work two years as a "systems administrator" but you never managed to learn shell-scripting.

Obviously, you are doing something wrong. :rolleyes:

Sit down and with a pencil and a piece of paper write down what you did learn. Now, go back and re-write that tome ... as many times as may be necessary ... until you have expressed it in terms that someone with no context-specific knowledge could understand, and relate to, and want to purchase.

Am I "making cheap-shot fun of you in public?" No. I am trying to give you a crash-course in marketing! Anyone who ever hires anyone always does so because they have a need. In order to maximize your chances of being hired, you need to be the one who can fill that need. But here's the trick: there are lots and lots and lots of "needs!"

You are a salesman, with only one thing to sell. Therefore, you must become very good at selling. There is no question that "the demand is out there, and it is huge," but... just how good are you at finding it and then selling to it?

Umm... yeah. That's not something they tell you, or teach you, at programming-school. You learn it in "the school of hard knocks."

vikas027 10-01-2008 09:14 PM


Originally Posted by sundialsvcs (Post 3297537)

Somehow, you managed to work two years as a "systems administrator" but you never managed to learn shell-scripting.

hey, I am pretty good at shell scripting ;) and learning basics of Perl. See, the reason for my job change is that in my current organization I am system admin, BUT here we have more application support more rather than core OS tasks, we hardly do anything on core OS part rather than user administration, NFS etc.

I am interested and very keen to explore new things in Unix, rather than supporting 1-2 applications which does not have much to learn about.

Moreover, I have been in remote support for all of my experience of 2+ years. Now, I believe I may get a chance to work on site and learn much.

Am I thinking the right way ??

Thanks a lot for your useful suggestions.


chrism01 10-02-2008 03:47 AM

I'd say there are more jobs (inc Oracle Applications) as an Oracle DBA than a Storage Mgr specialist. In the long run as a sysadmin you'll likely be involved with Storage anyway if you work on large sites/systems.

justmovedtolinux 10-02-2008 06:02 AM

If you really wanna make money - Enroll for some "Oracle Applications" training.

A lot of my friends went that route - and now they're earning around $80,000 per annum.

But, the caveat is (atleast this is what they tell me) - the work gets kindda monotonous after a couple of years into it, and you don't get a chance to move into a people management oriented roles.

All the best mate ...

Linux Archive

MensaWater 10-02-2008 09:51 AM

I'd have to agree with Sundialsvcs - I do my best to stay in the "specialization" of "System Administration" which is really a "generalist" kind of position based on knowing the operating system.

Storage Administrators can make a lot more but the market for them isn't quite as broad. Typically only rather large IT operations will have them whereas I've done System Admin in shops as small as 50 employees. Often enough the System Admin will do the storage administration (as I do at my current job). I'd suggest that one downside to specialization into something like Storage Administration might cause issues in a sagging economy. If you're wielding the budget cutting axe and see a small department with very highly paid people in it you think to yourself "I can save money by eliminating that department and don't have to worry about seniority if I get rid of the whole department." Often enough if that occurs they'll push the Storage Administration right back to Systems Admin.

I'd agree that being a DBA "generalist" is probably as broad a field as System Admin although there again in some shops (including one I did years ago) The SA and the DBA are apt to be one and the same person (or the same team).

If you don't like App support though you might not enjoy being a DBA. In many shops (especially SAP and Oracle Ebusiness) the DBA and Application administration both fall under the DBA due to how tightly integrated the DB is with the app.

I became an "OS specialist" in a job that started out as application support. I did this due to my interest in the OS not because the company pushed me that way but over time the company saw my abilities there and actually created a job that recognized this. This later led to a full SA position at another company and so on. If you don't feel your current job is doing enough to OS you can try a similar path or you can try to find a SA specific job elsewhere - just play up the SA part of your current job (but don't lie about the fact you were also doing application support - no one is going to hold that against you).

IsharaComix 10-02-2008 10:41 AM

Don't know if this helps...
I kind of agree with sundialsvcs, too. Being able to do general work is crucial in the competitive job market that computing technology has created.

I learned that its best to actually look at all kinds of different companies, since just about every company there is (construction, banking, etc) has an IT division of some kind. In high-security places with sensitive data (like hospitals and banks), they need qualified individuals to help write and manage their database software. I was talking with a recruiter just the other day for Vanguard's IT division, and he told me most of the same stuff.

Personally, I like to write individual resumes for each company I want to apply for, that illustrates my knowledge in a field, without the implication that I'm so rooted in one spot that I'm not versatile. Of course, I've got lots of free time (which I spend most of on LQ).

I'm only a college freshman, so this is just my opinion from what I've been looking into. Good luck in whatever you decide to do, and I hope my opinion's worth something.

monsm 10-02-2008 10:59 AM

How about moving towards systems architecture? Combined with an MBA that could be good. So while you work on your MBA, some database knowledge is probably good. You might want to make sure you learn the general skills, like ER-diagram/data modelling while you are there. It can be difficult to keep enough focus to learn e.g. Oracle skills unless you actually have some practical work to use these skills.
Also, I agree, on-site is better. You pick up a lot from colleagues that you miss when working off site.


vikas027 10-02-2008 01:03 PM

Thanks a LOT to you helpful people, really I am addicted to this site. :)

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