NOC engineer vs SysAdmin

Dear Experts, please advise this case! My current job is System Admin, working with Servers, Network devices, Vmware but the salary is quite low. Should I change to NOC engineer? (with higher salary)?

Is it a interesting job and what is its career path after working for few years?

Many thanks!
DP230Network AdministratorAsked:
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If you are interested in the subject matter.

The issue might be with the firm for whom you work versus the title.
What does NOC engineer that you are eyeing ..

Titles differ between firms...

Commonly more specialized application such as DBA  (administrator or architect) the more specialized the higher the potential, but requires significant knowledge/background...

Does your Sysadmin duties include application related familiarity or you've taken the steps to expand your skill set to include application level knowledge from iis, Exchange, SQL server, MySQL, etc.
DP230Network AdministratorAuthor Commented:
Hi, the NOC job was from Garena with this JD:

NOC Engineers work at the focal point to provide essential monitoring and troubleshooting support for all Sea products, services and systems, escalate problems to appropriate teams. They aim to resolve network issues as soon as possible to bringing Sea's quality of services to new heights.

Job Description:
• Tier-I monitoring and support for Sea infrastructure, network and services.
• Monitor Sea infrastructure, network and services. Respond to graph/log anomalies, system alerts via email/sms/phone-calls, etc.
• Identify issues from anomalies and alerts according to SOPs and experiences.
• Escalate identified issues for resolution when necessary.
• Provide first-level troubleshooting and support on network and system issues.
• Follow up proactively with internal or external parties for issue resolution progress.
• Summarise and report on monitored systems for service improvement.
• Work in shifts (24x7)

Currently I am working with Cisco devices, Exchange Server, Active directory, Backup infrastructure, Vmware things

Should it be a good career move?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Horses for courses, money is not everything...

Specialize in on area, and become the master!

If your goal is money, changed jobs..
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As far as I know, Typical NOC (operation) engineer only frontend the issues / support calls with respect to infrastructure, also handles daily checklist, backups etc, but You will not gain mastery because backend experts need to fix the major issues and exposure area is less for you.
You will have then some knowledge in all topics but it could not make you master

You need to own and drive end to end assignments in any topic (in your case it can be VMware, AD or exchange etc) to become master in that technology, if you are getting that in new job go ahead

As already stated above by Andrew, if money is the only goal, then it needless to talk here
DP230Network AdministratorAuthor Commented:
Yes you are right, money is not everything (it is attractive with 50% higher) but I'd like to clarify the difference between those jobs. Are they related to each other? If I change from SysAdmin to NOC engineer, will it a forward or backward move in career path?

I had experience with Tech support when I was working at HP in Data Protector EMEA Team; I know it is boring sometimes but this time with Garena, why are they offering such kind of high salary in this position?

Since I have worked as SysAdmin here, I did:
- Deployed Exchange Servers for 1500 users, Sonicwall Email Firewall
- Deployed Virtual Datacenter (Vsphere 6.5)
- Deployed Active Directory environment
- Deployed Firewall Sophos XG, VPN connections between branches and HQ
- Managing network (cisco), servers,...

Should it be a wise move? What will I learn from NOC after 1 year?
Project executor / consultant and NOC engineer are two separate profiles

I'd fix one path and then go ahead with that path only
In short if I am previously working with AD and Exchange\VMware, I would look for good openings in this field only
It depends on what you're truly interested in. Your duties sound like a cross of network and system administration. If you wanted to move a level upward, then aim either for an engineer title in an area you want to focus on (networking or systems, up to you). I had done network and system admin work in the past, and I was more interested in networks and security, so I moved that route. But as others have mentioned, the same title can mean different things and different salaries at different organizations. So get an idea of what you want, then cast a wide net and look at positions from various places, and filter down based on things that you like.
In your description, you mentioned that you deployed various applications, effectively meaning your level is as an installer. Commonly, the workload on Sysadmin is maintenance, spec planing, design/application/implementation/integration, 24/7 rotation shift/work on call schedule is a higher position within your current field.
Ad sevurity, etc.....
NOC often, the higher level pay shoukd have enough knowledge to quickly diagnose the potential issue to properly escalate the issue for faster resolution.

But that too varies with companies and how they structure each unit.
MacleanSystem EngineerCommented:
I am NOC and System engineer. Multiple hats. No difference in salary between the two where I worked and work.
Main difference is that as NOC you are more proactive.
As a system engineer you are usually doing project work or fighting existing fires.
As NOC you actively try to prevent fires from occurring, and create recommendations which resolve into projects for system engineers to improve a client infrastructure.

I prefer NOC as I rather try to avoid issues then work on resolving them as they happen.
So from my view it depends on your preference.
Do you have the skills to identify trouble points, patience to go through event logs, and fix those pesky warnings & errors which most people cannot be bothered with, plus identify what needs to be done for best practice and stability, forecasting what a client might require in the future depending on their vision and goals, or do you prefer to get a ticket assigned with a problem or project, and work on it as is.
DP230Network AdministratorAuthor Commented:
Hi, yes I had experience with Tech support when I was working at HP in Data Protector EMEA Team; it was a backup software. 2 tickets / day assigned by QM.

As my understanding, NOC is break/fix engineer? not the one who deploy and implement the network?

In terms of career path, are NOC and SysAdmin in the same route? Or are they in 2 different paths? What are the highest levels of them? (ie: IT Manager, CTO, Network engineer?)
Different paths' in a way NOC monitor the environment and commonly need quick analysis of an issue, to generate appropriate notification, escalation to resolve issues.
Often, that is helped through proper dependency referencing with the monitoring setup. They commonly interact with the end users experiencing issues on their system (end user is a term of art representing the affected party by the outage whether an internal entity or a customer).
NOC does not fix, they may have access to devices after a certain level to jump on some devices to confirm whether what they think is causing an issue is what causes the issue.
Much depends also on how the NOC is organized, I.e. Some may have an "in-house" network/security/Sysadmin who can perform cursory read-only access to ....

Commonly the NOC path is elevation through seniority, advance by rank. There is NOC component that deals with testing/implementation of new monitoring tools, but this will be an NOC embedded group of ......

What is it you like to do?

Let's try it this way, NOC is somewhat like a person in a tower monitoring an area, when smoke is seen, the fire department is dispatched to the area.

In context of 911, emergency services, NOC are people in the dispatch center monitoring stationed resources and responding to calls, dispatching appropriate resources to address, resolve issues. Including escalating by sending additional resources when appropriate.
DP230Network AdministratorAuthor Commented:
As you said, NOC engineer actually not break/fix problem, just monitor and notify the seniors who actually break/fix, am I right? but this time with Garena, why are they offering such kind of high salary in this position?

I cannot disclose the salary but it is 50% higher than SysAdmin's
NOC is broad, the qualification, requirements these folks have could as Maclean pointed out include, Pro-active interaction with "End users" to bring forth additional options that may help the "end user"
I.e. on a repetitive basis NOC is alerted to a situation with the Customer's setup. The NOC analysis of data sees a possible remedy, and provide this service to .......

The quicker one can diagnose the situation and properly alert the appropriate group to remedy, the more savings the Firm has.
i.e. a downtime of 10 minutes costs the end user $10,000 as an example.
If the issue from alert to "dispatch" is immediate, the capability of this NOC person might be more valuable than a person who takes 30 minutes to identify the issue, or one who guesstimates the issue incorrectly sending the wrong group to remedy the issue. i.e. sending a group not suited for the repair.
i.e. the issue is a multi-level situation service monitor of a web farm. The person dispatches a sysadmin to look at the web server. The sysadmin looks at the web server, reports issue is with an oracle Db, an Oracle DB is engaged.

much depends on what the job is.
In a way, a deployment sysadmin often requires a lower level of qualification in the sysadmin group depending on the scope of firm, could be a near entry-level depending on the environment.
Not specific to your situation, but a deployment engineer, sysadmin could be an OS deployment either physical or VM with provided specs.
An engineer supporting sales and handles the spec of ... engaged with a Customer would likely be earning more.

Event in Sysadmin some have levels i.e. engage one engineer when an issue arises, that one if the issue is beyond the person can escalate within their group to a more senior engineer.,,....jr, mid, sr .....

As noted if this is something you are interested in doing, go for it.

The JOB listing outlines what they are looking for and what the job involves including pay.
As you posted from the job listing
"They aim to resolve network issues as soon as possible to bringing Sea's quality of services to new heights."
The term is 13 months, suggests that they may have a high burn/churn rate (employees leave the position) which is why they are offering a higher reimbursement. Perhaps the end user/customer when stuff goes wrong, they can get an ear full ......... while the issue is being addressed. higher stress level compared to the sysadmin role you currently have.

You could explore it and develop quick analytical, troubleshooting skills including building dependencies . Commonly within the same firm, you can move from track to track, or more in this is a lane to lane..

Everyone starts somewhere.

Similar to some developers who start as application testers. This way they build up skills on diagnosing, detecting issues/vulnerabilities that they then build on when they develop applications.

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DP230Network AdministratorAuthor Commented:
Hi, how do you know "The term is 13 months"?

How is the career path for NOC engineer?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
In terms of career path, are NOC and SysAdmin in the same route? Or are they in 2 different paths? What are the highest levels of them? (ie: IT Manager, CTO, Network engineer?)

Technical Architect
The listing guarantees 13 months of payment.

"13th month salary is guaranteed "
meaning they expect the person to stay at least 13 months.....
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
In the UK, we would read that as it's a 13 month contract, to which after you have no job, e.g. 13 months of work!

or after 13 months, they can say good bye...
DP230Network AdministratorAuthor Commented:
Not sure about that since I did not see figure 13 somewhere in JD, and I'm living in Singapore
was looking at the Vietnam noc engineer listing.

in the case of the company, rapid correction is most important as downtime is money.
DP230Network AdministratorAuthor Commented:
No, I think "13th month salary is guaranteed" means that after one year, you will receive a bonus (which equal to 1 month salary); does not mean that we will say good bye after 13 months :)

Asia countries have Lunar new year, so 13th month salary is a kind of "culture" here

Sysadmin's usually do not generate revenue
The NOC engineer when can quickly diagnose and dispatch the correct group to address an issue, can save money.
The firm you mention is an online service meaning they need to be accessible, the noc has to either engage a repair or a temporary forward of service to other server that can handle .... in compliance with the laws of the country .......

See if you can talk to someone from that group and see whether it is something of interest to you.
DP230Network AdministratorAuthor Commented:
Hi, I passed the test last Friday, and will have an interview this Friday.

Does anyone know which questions should be prepared?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Well done, that's a new question!
DP230Network AdministratorAuthor Commented:
Many thanks for your comments and suggestions. I failed the interview, will continue with SysAdmin career
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