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Not network maintenance engineers

The difference between IT infrastructure maintenance 'system engineer', and those who design tomorrow's complex products and systems.


  1. This is the starting phrase you get when opening the Wikipedia definition page. However, the term gets used in several contexts and might get mixed up.
  2. But it's too easy to get confused about what does a systems engineer really do. On the one hand, the field is REALLY broad, the activities much depending on the industry and specific (see link above), but on the other hand, a lot of companies call their IT infrastructure, maintenance and support people: system engineers.
  3. Sample IT Systems Engineering Roles: A systems engineer that focuses on local-area and wide-area networks (LAN/WAN), for example, may be expected to: manage and monitor LAN/WAN network services; recommend and acquire equipment replacements and upgrades; maintain an inventory of all network devices; draft and maintain LAN/WAN documentation and processes; introduce and integrate new technologies into existing data center environments; perform routine audits of systems and software; and troubleshoot any reported problems.
  4. Similarly, the duties of a systems engineer who focuses on Microsoft products may include: installing, configuring, updating and maintaining server software/hardware; high-level problem troubleshooting; replacing failed hardware and addressing system problems; tracking system capacity (CPU, memory, disk space, etc.) and reporting/correcting any issues; installing software upgrades and security patches, and monitoring for intrusion signs; assessing where the company stands as far as IT system performance/efficiency, compared to where it would like to be, and compiling recommendations on how to improve performance.
  5. But then the same source clarifies a bit the difference, making the roles more purpose specific, even though, in my opinion, the activities and work products are completely different: one being maintenance and installation, the other new systems and concepts creation.
  6. Different Kinds of Systems: There are actually many different kinds of systems out there, including: military defense programs; sewage systems; telephone systems; electric power systems; information technology systems.
  7. Sadly, they focus more on IT engineers.
  8. If we're talking about IT systems engineers, they will work with components such as infrastructure, hardware or system software, in order to ensure that they all work properly together.
  9. Then, here is another source trying to explain it:
  10. Most systems engineering jobs deal with some form of science or technology, or both. The job combines complex aspects of chemistry and physics with out-of-the-box thinking to come up with a system that can perform multiple functions. A computer system, for example, must run the computers, print documents, and connect to the Internet all at once without slowing down or crashing.
  11. Other specialties in this field include networking systems engineer and power systems engineer. Both are technical in nature, like the computer systems job, but focus on different technology. In network systems, the engineer creates the operating system that runs the computer system the computer systems engineer built. In power systems, the engineer works to create the massive power grid layouts that supply electricity throughout an area, including to the business running the computer and network systems the other engineers created.
  12. To create a working system, the engineer often follows a development cycle. Each stage tackles a certain aspect of system design and continually checks to see that the system works properly and meets client needs. The first phases involve planning out the best way to build the system. Next comes the physical labor of putting it together and, finally, the engineer tests the system and shows it to the client.
  13. And an extract of what America thinks about this job:
  14. 49 of 100 49. Systems Engineer Top 100 rank: 49 Sector: Information Technology What they do: Designs and develops solutions to complex computer applications problems, system administration issues, or network concerns. Performs systems management and integration functions.
  15. Finally, for a much better illustration (aside from the first 2 sources that are pretty good), a visual short introduction for this job works best, in my opinion. I let this goodie to the end. Enjoy:
  16. Animated Systems Engineering Definition