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When you’re just starting out in the IT world, the various roles and job opportunities available can be overwhelming. Though your objective skill set and expertise may mean, in theory, you’re a suitable candidate for a whole host of positions, what kind of job is right for you? If you’re weighing up between IT operations and IT support, you’re in the right place. In this article, we break down the key roles, responsibilities and characteristics of both roles so that you know what you should be looking for.

What is IT operations?

Working in ITOps involves working in a team to carry out a diverse and dynamic range of tasks around managing, maintaining, and supporting an organization’s entire IT infrastructure. They play a pivotal role within organizational ecosystems because they ensure (as far as possible) that IT services, systems, and networks all run smoothly.

Typically ITOps are responsible for:

  • Infrastructure management and maintenance. ITOps are responsible for maintaining all IT assets (hardware and software). They restore systems after outages or updates, back up data, and configure and optimize performance. In addition, ITOps is responsible for having broad oversight over network performance at all times.
  • Network administration. This involves overseeing all activities across networks and keeping track of real-time performance.
    Security management. ITOps are responsible for an organization’s cyber-security framework, keeping track of relevant compliance matters and patch deployment.
  • Device management. ITOps have to manage all the organization’s IT assets such as laptops and other devices. This also involves consistently updating, patching and upgrading these devices when and if necessary.
  • Incident management and mitigation. ITOps are responsible for strengthening cyber-security infrastructure, minimizing down-time in the event of an incident, and addressing vulnerabilities within their network.
  • Digital transformation and system development. ITOps also enjoy the role of innovating and modernizing their organization’s IT infrastructure by deploying new software, hardware, and cloud solutions.

Why ITOPs?

ITOps play a critical role in maintaining a stable, smooth-running IT environment at all times – fundamental for supporting ongoing business activities. It’s also an exciting area to work because of the opportunity to define how an organization is operated from an IT perspective, as well as the diverse range of responsibilities that they enjoy. In addition, the ability to direct what and how digital transformation takes place is an exciting prospect.

What is IT support?

As the title suggests, IT Support is all about offering support to end-users with regard to using organizational technology, whether that’s hardware or software. IT Support guides users through setup, installation, configuration, as well as to trouble-shoot and address problems in real-time.

IT support may offer in-person or remote support depending on the setup. It’s also not uncommon for IT support teams to be divided into first line and second line support, in which first-line support deals with broad and general problems, whilst second line help to solve more specialized or niche issues.

Bear in mind that different organizations may define IT support’s role differently, asking them to take on different kinds of responsibilities.

Generally speaking, IT Support help to:

  • Offer support. Helping end-users directly with anything they need assistance with in regards to their device or software.
  • Optimize network performance. Installations, configurations and maintenance of organizational networks.
  • Onboard new users. Set up their accounts, walk them through set-up and installation.
  • Implement and deploy new systems, software and hardware.
  • Maintain and strengthen security. Helping to strengthen organizational cyber-security infrastructure against cyberattacks.
  • Maintenance. IT Support helps to physically maintain organizational devices, as well as keep track of performance to mitigate against avoidable down time.

Why IT support?

By nature, IT Support is a people-facing role. It not only requires in-depth and technical knowledge of the various systems, hardware and software, but the ability to troubleshoot and resolve problems calmly, quickly, and on the fly.

Direct support is a critical aspect of maintaining business operations in spite of technical issues that arise, and IT support is the first port of call when and if an end-user runs into a problem. Similar to ITOps, it’s a varied role, which means that every day will look a little different.

How to choose your IT career path

Ultimately, the choice between IT Ops and IT Support is subjective and will come down to what you’re looking for in your IT career. Both paths offer a diverse and varied day-to-day that plays a pivotal role in business operations. The people-facing nature of IT support may not suit everyone, whilst others may be specifically seeking the opportunity to work directly with end-users.

Equally, the big-picture thinking involved with ITOps and the chance to shape the digital development of one’s workplace may be exactly what some people are looking for. And at the end of the day, many of the skills involved in both positions are transferable and make for a good starting point for scaling your IT career in the future.

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