Is it possible to freelance as a network engineer?

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by AbortionSurvivor, Apr 25, 2008.

  1. AbortionSurvivor

    AbortionSurvivor Active Member

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    So a few small businesses have approached me about setting up their SAN network and virtualizing some servers. These businesses know me through word of mouth or from other professionals.

    I've turn down these jobs since I already have a day job. -I work as an engineer for VMware.
    I'm also afraid to take the jobs since i won't be able to provide support if something fails.

    All this possible work has me thinking that this could be decent side income.
    Has anyone tried freelancing this type of work AND also having a Mon-Fri day job?

    I guess i could offer my services as a "consultant", but not offer service contracts. Does that really work?
    How do i avoid them calling me if something breaks? -I'm very experienced, but let's face it; shit breaks.
     
  2. DAN513

    DAN513 OT Supporter

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    It's tough, really tough. Worst case scenario is that one of the things you've set up for someone goes boom at 945am and they need you asap. Who could you deal with that?

    I agree, the money is very tempting, but unless you can just up and leave your 9-5 job, it won't work.
     
  3. JayC71

    JayC71 Guest

    I've thought about this as well. Many times actually, and it has worked out for me in the past. The only catch is that you need to have an understanding, written preferably, with the company that this is a SIDE job and you aren't available 24/7, and that once you set it up and configure it to their liking your job is complete (so they don't call you when Joe decides to reconfigure the SAN two weeks later).
     
  4. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    You could design networks for people, but it would have to be contingent upon them having their own IT support to keep it running once everything's installed and running.
     
  5. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    why would you pay someone to design something that you would then have to maintain.... if you have the staff to maintain it, it seems logical they could implement it.

    It's like an airline outsourcing their takeoffs, but changing pilots mid-flight and handling landings on their own.
     
  6. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    No, it's like an airline paying Boeing to built their planes, but hiring their own engineers to fix them. There is a direct correlation between the two scenarios.
     
  7. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    not at all. Your analogy would only work saying that Cisco builds the routers/switches, and the IT people maintain them... Which is correct.

    There's a big difference between designing/building a router and installing it.

    That's completely different than talking about installing/configuring a production-completed product and integrating it with other products.
     
  8. dissonance

    dissonance reset OT Supporter

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    Both of your analgies sucked. Roastboy was closer though.
     
  9. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Oh whatever. The point is, it's easier to replace parts than to figure out which ones are the right parts to build the system with when it doesn't exist yet.
     
  10. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    if you're willing to settle on incompetent IT staff, I guess. :hsugh:

    One could argue that if you couldn't build it, you probably arn't qualified to be fixing it.

    (take that within a limited scope.... I change my own oil, doesn't mean I need to build the longblock...)
     
  11. dissonance

    dissonance reset OT Supporter

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    Since the companies are wanting to outsource their network developments, I think it is safe to assume that they either don't have an IT department or the IT department is full of not very good IT people. Any IT person should be able to get a network setup.

    Based on this, I think it is stupid to assume that they wouldn't be calling you up whenever a problem comes around. I would agree with JayC71 that you need a written understanding saying that this isn't your primary job and what that means.
     
  12. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Right. And a guy like me, who moonlights as an IT technician, knows how to resolve IP address conflicts and rebuild malfunctioning workstations, can handle fixing problems as they arise, and that's good enough for day-to-day operations. But when it comes to actually redesigning the office network, that's better left to the head of IT in the corporate HQ, who worked at a Verizon regional hub for 15 years before joining us. He knows more about how the hardware actually does its job than I probably ever will, but I can still handle rebooting the firewall or rerouting network cables so they don't dangle in the way.
     
  13. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    from your own posts expressing your frustration, they don't even let you do that :mamoru:
     
  14. AbortionSurvivor

    AbortionSurvivor Active Member

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    How would you draft this type of document? I have no legal background so i'm afraid i'll leave my ass open if i left a term or agreement out of the document.

    I pretty much agree with everyone and know that this will be unlikely as a side job.
    I'm now leaning towards this as an emergency "Plan B" if something were to happen to my day job.

    For example, my team gets outsourced and I lose my job. I'd like to flip the "consulting switch" and have income coming in within the first week I get fired.
    /KnocKonWooD
     
  15. Mike99TA

    Mike99TA I don't have anything clever to put here right now

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    Probably not going to happen. The hardest part about contracting as an IT-anything is actually finding the clients. If you talk to most indepedent contractors in the IT field, they will tell you that 50% of their time is just spent finding clients and only <40% of their time is actually spent doing IT work (10% towards managing their finances and traveling and stuff).

    It can pay very good but there will never ever be a guarantee that you will have work and money for that week, you will not have any sort of benefits like health insurance (and its very expensive to buy it on your own without a company backing you) and you will have to register your own company and do business as that entity if you want to even remotely protect yourself.

    In short, expecting to have any income a week after losing your day job, is almost impossible, unless you already have clients lined up and waiting. More then likely you're looking at 1-2 months at the absolute minimum, probably more since you don't actually have any "former clients" as a contractor.

    I've done it, if you can find a long term client to work for it can work out but its still fairly stressful (if they need to let anyone go you'll be first).
     
  16. trouphaz

    trouphaz New Member

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    a guy who used to work for me had his own side job doing exactly what you are talking about, but with another guy. i'm not sure what he did to get new clients, but i believe at least some of it was word of mouth. it wasn't enough to replace his primary income, but he had some stuff going on that worked well.

    oh, and potroast is completely wrong in his example because companies bring in consultants ALL THE TIME to design and help implement something and then hand it over to their own staff. what you need to know to maintain something is not the same thing as knowing how to design and implement it properly. yet again, the jolly pothead was just trying to be a pain in the balls first and then come up with some lame way to back up his argument afterwards.
     
  17. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    That's changing right now, actually. The VP of my division, who wasn't on good terms with the CEO, got squeezed out a few months ago, and my boss quit so he could move back to Colorado where he went to school. So now I report to the chief technologist of the company, who himself reports directly to the COO, and he just got authority to personally sign off on all IT procurements. I spent five minutes last week explaining how we could use a couple of new servers, and he told me to get the purchase requisitions on his desk by the end of the day so he could sign them.

    After my boss quit, I decided it was time to send out some resumes, and one company (that has a sole-source agreement with the USPS to program all the mail-sorters in the country) called me in for an interview and made me an offer. I thought it was only fair to let my new boss know what the deal was, and why I wanted to change companies, and he responded by pulling out a folder containing contracts for all the projects in the division that needed design work done and told me to pick a couple of them. He also gave me a 20% raise on the spot.

    Things are looking up. :bigthumb:
     
  18. Peyomp

    Peyomp New Member

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    Contracting to do anything is possible. You just have to be a baller. Yes, you can offer your services to build them something, which their people then operate. You just need to build something easy to operate.

    Contracting pays better than a day job, so if you can handle the contracts - TAKE THEM. You're crazy not to. Just remember to charge reasonably - WAY more than you get hourly at work with a salary, or whatever.
     
  19. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Yeah, it's important to keep in mind that when freelancing, you have to cover extra costs that your company pays for you at your day job. Insurance, travel, supplies, etc. Your day job company probably bills you out at 2x-3x what they pay you, because of all the other stuff they have to pay for so you can do your job.
     
  20. AbortionSurvivor

    AbortionSurvivor Active Member

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    great stuff. thanks guys
     
  21. m0nk3y

    m0nk3y Not now, chief.

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    as a vmware engineer, FIX ESX SERVER's issues with Exchange 2007 on Server 2003 x64 with 3rd party anti-spam software!11!!one!1!!1!










    ...and don't quit your day job- freelance jobs are really hit or miss. it's too easy to get screwed over or lose clients and go weeks/months without work between the really good periods.
     

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