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In many cases, the end of the year gives you time to step back and take stock of the last 12 months. This is when many of us take a hard look at what worked and what did not, complete performance reviews, and formulate plans for the coming year. For me, it is all of those things plus a time when I u...
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SolarWinds Survey Reveals IT Pros Are Engaged, Upbeat and Loyal Employees
Study of US-Based Systems and Network Administrators Uncovers Overarching Similarities as Well as Pointed Differences on the Job

AUSTIN, TX -- (Marketwire) -- 01/09/13 -- SolarWinds (NYSE: SWI), a leading provider of powerful and affordable IT management software, today released results of a survey of network administrators, the second part of a comprehensive survey which last month announced findings for systems administrators. The results show a striking similarity between both groups in job satisfaction and optimism, experience and loyalty, as well as how they like to spend their free time and even their favorite video games and geek TV shows. The survey also uncovered several key on-the-job differences between the groups, related to their job functions and responsibilities, views towards the organizations they work for and compensation levels.

These results are part of a wide-ranging survey of 401 U.S.-based systems administrators, or sysadmins, and 400 U.S.-based network administrators, or netadmins, conducted in October 2012 to understand the IT professional in both their professional and personal lives. Despite 90 percent of each group agreeing there are now more responsibilities and demands on their time, the overarching results find IT workers to be model employees: experienced, optimistic and confident in their companies, loyal and satisfied in their job roles.

On the job, the survey revealed sysadmins and netadmins felt similarly about the following factors, even though there were some key differences between groups:

  • High levels of overall job enjoyment: Though both groups enjoy their jobs, netadmins demonstrate slightly higher job satisfaction. More netadmins (79 percent) expressed enjoyment in their jobs compared with sysadmins (68 percent). Similarly, more netadmins (66 percent) felt appreciated by the organization, higher than their sysadmin counterparts (56 percent). The most enjoyable thing about their jobs? Two-thirds of netadmins and sysadmins agree it's solving problems, the top answer for both groups.

  • New Year's projections: System and network admins overall believe their 2013 budgets will likely remain flat. Thirty-eight percent of these IT pros expect no change from 2012; the overall prediction for netadmins is a 1.5 percent growth in budget, versus an expected 1 percent decline for sysadmins. Nonetheless, both groups remain optimistic for the New Year: 83 percent of netadmins and 73 percent of sysadmins agree 2013 will be a better year for their companies.

  • Loyalty towards and confidence in their companies: Both netadmins and sysadmins are loyal to their companies, with 52 percent of netadmins and 48 percent of sysadmins having worked at their jobs for 10 years or more or never having changed jobs. Eighty-five percent of netadmins expressed that they have some level of trust in the senior/executive leadership of the company, compared with 77 percent of sysadmins. The numbers were even higher for trust in IT leadership, with 92 percent of netadmins and 82 percent of sysadmins expressing some level of trust.

  • Feeling supported: A key shared viewpoint among both groups is that they feel supported and empowered to do their jobs in various ways. A majority of both groups feel they have adequate tools and software, support from the organization and ongoing training and skills development. Netadmins, however, receive slightly more support, with 75 percent versus 63 percent of sysadmins saying they have adequate tools and software; 72 percent versus 57 percent having adequate organizational support; and 66 versus 58 percent having adequate ongoing skills training and development. But universally, most IT pros -- 70 percent of both groups -- feel their work is not well understood by others in the company.

Despite overall similarities in their overarching positivity towards the job, there are several key differences between netadmins and sysadmins:

  • Responsibility and compensation: As may be expected, netadmins have a wider range of responsibilities compared with their sysadmin counterparts. As a result, netadmins also spend more free time working, with 52 percent indicating they spend a "significant" amount of time completing tasks, compared with 43 percent of sysadmins. Perhaps this accounts for the gap in pay, with netadmins making an average of $87,000 per year compared to $78,000 on average for sysadmins.

  • Split frustrations: While the top frustrations for sysadmins was too little pay followed by increasing workloads, the top frustration for netadmins was not having enough budget followed by too little pay.

  • Ambitions: In five years, 43 percent of netadmins see themselves as IT department head and 17 percent see themselves as CIO. Similarly, 39 percent of sysadmins see themselves as IT department head, but a much smaller group -- only five percent -- see themselves as CIO. Interestingly, there is some desire between the groups to switch job roles: 19 percent of netadmins say they will cross over to systems management, while 23 percent of sysadmins say they will be netadmins in five years.

"Our survey reveals that IT pros are a remarkable and resilient bunch," said Kevin Thompson, President and CEO, SolarWinds. "They are unsung heroes in many companies, but they are incredibly loyal and motivated despite the scope of work they do and the demand of work on their time both on and off the job. It's essential for companies to understand what drives netadmins and sysadmins to perform and give them the support that helps make their jobs easier in order to retain these valuable employees."

As with their professional lives, network administrators and systems administrators show some remarkable similarities in their personal lives and preferences.

  • Personality traits: More than 60 percent of both groups say they are hardworking, the top personality trait chosen, followed by more than 50 percent of both groups indicating they are friendly.

  • Gadgets of choice: Netadmins were split in their preference over Android and iPhone, with 37 percent of respondents in each category. This compares with a slight majority of sysadmins using Android phones over iPhones. As with sysadmins, an overwhelming majority of netadmins, 82 percent, are PC users.

  • What they watch: The top sci-fi TV show for both groups was "Star Trek," followed by "The Big Bang Theory" and "The X-Files." But on the big screen, like their sysadmin colleagues, netadmins prefer light sabers over phasers as "Star Wars" narrowly beat out "Star Trek" for top sci-fi movie honors.

  • What they drink: If they aren't working during their free time, netadmins and sysadmins can enjoy a brew together after work. Forty percent of netadmins and 31 percent of sysadmins prefer some kind of beer to drink in their off time. More sysadmins drink soda, though, with 19 percent of sysadmins versus 10 percent of netadmins preferring some pop when off duty.

  • More similarities: Both groups list Batman as their favorite superhero; rock music as the genre of choice; and compact cars as current vehicles. The top three answers for what they like to do in their free time were the same between the two groups: 1) spending time with family and friends; 2) unwinding at home; and 3) surfing the web.

Demographically, two-thirds of both groups were male. Slightly more netadmins than sysadmins have advanced degrees, with 77 percent of netadmins having at least a bachelor's degree compared with 65 percent of sysadmins. Netadmins were also a bit more experienced, with 68 percent indicating more than 8 years of experience versus 62 percent of sysadmins.

The complete survey results can be found on SlideShare, and an infographic on the data can be found on SolarWinds' Whiteboard blog.

About SolarWinds
SolarWinds (NYSE: SWI) provides powerful and affordable IT management software to customers worldwide from Fortune 500 enterprises to small businesses. In all of our market areas, our approach is consistent. We focus exclusively on IT Pros and strive to eliminate the complexity that they have been forced to accept from traditional enterprise software vendors. SolarWinds delivers on this commitment with unexpected simplicity through products that are easy to find, buy, use and maintain while providing the power to address any IT management problem on any scale. Our solutions are rooted in our deep connection to our user base, which interacts in our online community, thwack, to solve problems, share technology and best practices, and directly participate in our product development process. Learn more today at http://www.solarwinds.com/.

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