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System integration or application development?–The decisive difference

January 11, 2021

System integration or application development? Difficult question and what are the decisive differences? We, Ricardo and Nils from the 2nd year of the apprenticeship, want to support you in your decision about the right apprenticeship and have compiled the differences and similarities for you in this blog post.

We introduce ourselves

Name: Ricardo Fricke-Hillebrand
Apprenticeship:  IT Specialist for Application Developmen
Department:SDU CCS – Collaboration Solutions
Team: Collaboration Solutions
Main task: Solution development on Microsoft SharePoint1 

Microsoft SharePoint1: Microsoft SharePoint is a web-based platform that is used, for example, in many companies for collaboration, automated workflows or the company intranet. Here, data can be stored in lists or documents can be managed in document libraries. In addition, we design form interfaces, automate multi-stage workflows or develop individual solutions for our customers.

Example: You create a leave request via a form in the intranet and it ends up with your supervisor for approval / rejection. The data can be stored either at our data centre or in the cloud (on Microsoft servers).

We introduce ourselves

Name: Nils Nordmeyer
Apprenticeship IT specialist for system integration
Department: LE TS OM – Operations Management
Team: Voice & UC
Main task: System support - Administration - Installation

The comparison 

IT specialist application development and IT specialist system integration are two different training occupations that, even though the focus is different, still have a lot in common. Based on our 1.5-year training so far, we would like to introduce you to both the common training contents and direct differences. We would like to mention that we follow the general training structure and do not include specific aspects of our training, which could be different depending on the department or team. In other words, training content that YOU, if you were to choose one of these training professions at Sycor, would also experience yourself.

The first distinction starts even before the training!  

You want to become a computer scientist, but which area do you want to focus on? 

Application developer

As an application developer, there is hardly any way around programming! You will learn programming during your training, so you only need to know that you will be working with it and ask yourself: "Would this be something for me? Furthermore, you should like to solve tricky tasks on your own responsibility! It can happen that you will be working on a problem for a long period of time.

System integrators

.As a system integrator, you have to want to solve problems. There are many tasks that require a new and creative approach. Your work is not only about programming, but also about hardware, software and customer contact. It is helpful if you are interested in technology and have already gained experience in the field.

Our similarities

The first thing we both thought of in common was school! The vocational school teaches the basics that every FIAE/FISI must be able to do. We both attend BBS2 in Göttingen and are in the same class with the same subjects. From the 3rd apprenticeship year onwards, the learning material is specialised depending on the apprenticeship occupation.

To make sure that Sycor's apprentices have mastered the basics, there are six basic training courses, each lasting two or three days. These internal basic training courses were devised by a highly esteemed and competent colleague and designed in a rousing manner. Since these are compulsory trainings for computer scientists in their 1st year of apprenticeship, we were again represented there together. In conclusion, all we can say about the training courses is that we were thrilled!

Another common feature is the SSD block (Sycor Service Desk), which both application developers and system integrators have to complete. In the SSD, we trainees get insights into "first level support", which includes ticket recording (problem recording, change requests) and hardware management, such as setting up PCs.

The difference, however, lies in the depth of the SSD block. While Ricardo, as an application developer, was taught the basics for a fortnight in Göttingen at the SSD and could occasionally hand out hardware to Sycorians who came to the SSD or record their problems, Nils was in Duderstadt for six weeks as a system integrator and got to know our major customer Ottobock there. In addition to the basics, he was also taught how to deal personally with customers and how to manage the technical infrastructure in Duderstadt.

Other commonalities during the apprenticeship are both the apprentice project of the 2nd apprenticeship year and our regular apprentice meetings organised by the JAV (Youth Apprentice Representation). Furthermore, an apprentice day takes place once a year, where all apprentices meet, exchange ideas and have a lot of fun. Unfortunately, this year's apprentice day was postponed due to Corona. 

Our conclusion

As a conclusion, we can only say that in the general training structure, much is the same for the application developer and system integrator. After all, it's about basics that every computer scientist should be able to do! There are minor specialisations here and there, but the biggest and most important difference is the decision in which specialisation you want to develop! And then comes the specialisation in which field (e.g. SAP, Microsoft) you want to develop. And the knowledge you need for this is built up during the training in the company and is individually adapted from department to department and team to team.

Our authors have very different professions and come from different areas and locations of Sycor. All of them write from their personal point of view and from their personal experiences.

Ricardo Fricke-Hillebrand & Nils Nordmeyer

  • Ricardo: Apprentice IT specialist for application development (left in picture)
  • Nils: Apprentice IT specialist for system integration (right in picture)