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I realize that terminology in this field can be slightly ambiguous and that there is obviously some overlap in roles, but hopefully some context will help. I had much fun this last six months designing and implementing a new workflow from the developers to the end users, and for the persons maintaining the system for my University.

This consisted of implementing database servers, web servers,a project management system, and a Mercurial repository system. I also have been tying different parts of the system together with some automation to improve workflow and make it easier on the developers. I was basically in charge of most of the systems we chose (I was a developer for the same team for the 1.5 years prior to this), and working out all the details. I am hoping to have time to further upgrade this into a Puppet driven solution with easy support for clustering (fault tolerance) in mind.

Does this fit under Systems Administration, Systems Architecture, or something else all together? I have had a phenomenal amount of fun doing this (it's exciting to goto work every day), and I want to know the proper area to set my sights on.

I've already read the Wikipedia posts. Mainly just want to know what the above duties primarily fall into, because frankly my limited knowledge makes the Wikipedia reference feel ambiguous in the context of the above.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Well...

In Theory:

  • Systems Architect interacts with end users and designs the basic architecture of the system. Primarily this is generating requirements, not specifications.
  • Systems Engineer designs and builds stuff (more like what you described). This would include the actual specifications.
  • Systems Administrator keeps it all running later.

In Reality:

  • The three job titles are frequently used interchangeably in IT and there's usually some aspect of all 3 in the jobs.

I don't hear "systems architect" used outside of sales organizations typically... Usually "engineer" is somebody that designs and builds for another organization and they later run it themselves; while "administrator" works within the organization. What you describe absolutely sounds like work a "system administrator" does to me, and specifically sounds like the kinds of things I've done in multiple jobs where I had the title "System Administrator" or something like that.

Note also: "architect" and "engineer" are protected terms in some jurisdictions and their usage by people without the proper credentials can be frowned upon.

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