Career Opportunities in Networking
you're thinking of getting into networking or have already been
a part of it, you'll find a bright growth path ahead of you. Starting
with network or system administration, career opportunities can
open up in a lot of areas ranging from security, storage, WAN management,
wireless, data center management, Unified Communications, and many
others. Here's what you need to know about making it big in this
is the basic foundation of every IT setup. A little glitch in the
network can bring the whole enterprise to a grinding halt. One can't
imagine how an organization would carry its functioning without
being dependent on a network; from basic intra-office network to
connecting to the Internet for global business. And that's what's
made it imperative for organizations to have all-rounders who can
take care of various aspects of network management independently.
Even though every organization can't have a full-time network administrator
of their own, they can outsource network mgmt to a third party.
That's why it won't be wrong to say that a network engineer is one
of the primary drivers of an organization's success. Networking
encompasses a range of technologies and areas of specializations.
A network administrator has to have specialized skills in one of
the many domains and technologies of Networking. They include Wireless,
Mobility, Security, Storage, Server Consolidation, MTLS VPNs, VoIP,
Mobile IP and Optimization to name a few. A network professional
can specialize in any of these and shape his career. Network professionals
are in demand not only from enterprises where they are hired for
LAN and WAN administration, but they are also needed by consulting
firms to audit and impart consultating services to organizations
for their networking requirements. Service providers like ISPs and
Telecom companies also demand a great number of networking professionals.
is required of network professionals?
99% plus uptime for users, delivering a faster ROI for the company,
and better utilization of available resources are just a few of
the key responsibilities of a networking professional. The job has
only become more complex and demanding with the advent of IP-based
networks like VoIP and VPNs. It has also added to the responsibility
of balancing technology trends with business objectives of the enterprise.
The IT market changes so fast that what's in demand today may become
obsolete tomorrow. For instance, the evidence of changing technology
can be seen in wireless security, where Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA)
overtook Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) in a span of few months.
Thus it's imperative for networking professionals to keep up with
changing technologies. Also, it becomes necessary to possess some
sort of certification apart from core networking knowledge. Enterprises
seek professionals to have solid understanding of the network techniques,
network operating systems, backup capabilities, as well as a fair
understanding of network infrastructure issues and cabling. Since
networking has a diverse range of technology platforms ? Microsoft,
Cisco, Unix/Linux, Novell, CA, etc., it becomes important for an
aspirant network professional to choose a platform early on.
an enterprise, a professional will typically start his career as
a LAN administrator. Later with some experience he can take responsibilities
of a senior level network manager who will be into planning and
designing of LAN, including wireless and security. After acquiring
some years of experience in planning and designing the network,
a professional can take the role of a consultant as he would have
experience in implementing the network setup and also have knowledge
of technologies and hardware requirements. But to grow, he'll have
to enhance his skill set beyond the knowledge of LAN configuration
and administration, and look ahead to technologies that are part
of networking. A few of the specialized streams of networking domains,
where network professionals are in demand, include Storage, Security,
WAN, Virtualization / Consolidation, Wireless and Mobility. The
networking domain has a plethora of job titles, many of which refer
to very similar and at times identical job roles, like Network Engineer,
Network Administrator, Network Analyst, Systems Administrator, etc.
Now with specializations coming into picture, new job titles that
are coming up in the enterprises include Security Analyst for network
security, Network Storage Administrator for storage management and
Wireless Network Engineer for a Wi-Fi consulting agency. Let's have
a look at various specialized domains where a network professional
can build his career.
can choose from either IT or Telecom to shape their careers. Within
telecom they bet on technologies like MPLS VPN, VoIP and wireless
technologies as these are the fields where networking professionals
are in demand. In IT, a networking professional can become a specialist
in Security, Storage, Server Consolidation, WAN Management, etc.
Some hot areas where a networking professional should try to improve
his expertise in are:
Unified Communications: Convergence is touted as the mantra for
future communication. Various forms of communication are being unified
to provide a common platform that can be accessed or controlled
by an array of devices ranging from a desktop to a mobile device
such as a cell phone or a palm top. Voice over IP (VoIP) is one
of the pioneering technologies in this field and also gaining a
lot of mileage these days. A professional who forays into UC needs
to have a thorough knowledge of an enterprise's Call Manager, IP
network deployments, and configuration and deployment of UC solutions.
There are certification exams from Cisco for networking professionals
that leads to an enhanced skillset.
interviewed Ram Kumar to find out hot career opportunities for pros
in networking. Here are excerpts from the interview.
Ram Kumar, Executive Director, Gemini Communication Ltd.
What is your advice for a beginner in networking domain and what
are the lucrative areas?
Networking domain is very wide and involves core networking technologies
and other network related fields. When we look into core networking
technologies, certifications in Cisco (Data), Nortel (Date/Voice)
with specialization in optimization will be helpful for beginners.
After few years of experience, they can enhance their skill set
by specializing in areas of Security, Storage, Virtualization &
also in Wireless technologies. In telecom, MPLS VPN, IP based voice,
Wireless would be in demand.
How can a network professional build a career as a Network Security
Security focus is shifting from desktop to servers or Internet gateway
security. The sophistication of security appliances has increased.
They are viewed as a complex black box. The capabilities of a security
appliance for a given security requirement need special understanding
of the problem. A security analyst is expected to understand security
signatures of various appliances, with capabilities and operating
protocols, including zero-day security issues. The recent migration
towards Wi-Fi, WiMesh and WiMax, SCADA initiatives have opened up
new avenues for networking professional. The fixed/portable broadband
wireless equipment market (sub-11GHz) has grown from a $430 million
market to $562 million. It is predicted that, the fixed Broadband
wireless market will pass the $ 2 billion mark by 2010. Networking
and the security professionals are expected to handle these requirements.
Thus there is a career path available for such professionals since
the threat landscape is dynamic and new security appliances are
What areas or domains of networking will be the hot-spots and what
would be the future demands for such networking professionals?
WAN traffic management, traffic engineering, WAN and LAN security,
Wi-Fi, WiMesh and WiMax security, Wireless BOTs identification and
management, Patch management, Risk and threat mapping, Threat mitigation,
Business continuity planning, disaster recovery, etc. are some of
the hotspots where professionals will be of high demand.
technologies: The wireless domain encompasses
technologies that are coming up in the mobile telecom arena
as well as technologies pertaining to satellite communication,
VSATs, RF, Microwave, etc. A professional can look forward
to expertise in niche areas such as VSAT or Microwave as career
options. WiMax and 4G are other new technologies that are
coming up in the cellular space. A professional with interest
in telecom and communications can choose to be a wireless
expert or a Wi-Fi consultant by gaining knowledge on the latest
Networking is perhaps the only career that opens you up to such
a large number of areas
hot technology today is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). It's
a complex networking model of tagging, tracking and identification
of objects based on the attached RF chips. RFID finds massive usage
in industries such as logistics, retail, manufacturing and warehousing.
A network professional who has honed his skills in intrusion detection
systems and firewall maintenance, can look forward to becoming a
security expert. A security analyst reviews the abilities of a security
appliance and operating protocols that will be used. Security is
not just about wired networks but also entails the complete wireless
network as well as the communication mediums like secured VoIP systems.
With more and more security appliances coming up to meet the ever
increasing threats, a career in Security is the need of the hour.
Storage: Storage professionals
take care of daily storage tasks such as provisioning, storage connectivity,
storage allocation, problem solving and change management in the
storage infrastructure. They are involved in planning and designing
of the best storage facilities and also need to have the ability
to solve problems pertaining to servers, storage area networks and
WAN: A networking
professional with good knowledge in routers, switches, firewalls,
VoIP, VPNs, etc and with relevant certifications, can foray in this
field. That's not all, there's WAN optimization that's growing into
a completely new domain and involves efficient utilization of WAN
bandwidth by compression, load balancing, caching, etc. WAN acceleration
too is a hot trend to boot. The knowledge of products from Cisco,
Radware, Juniper, Citrix, Riverbed etc. will only add to feathers
to a network professional's credentials to be a WAN specialist.
A valid certificate from a particular vendor acts as a value-add
to all the on-job experience a network professional gains. Certifications
for core networking include Microsoft's MCSA/MCSE/MCP, Cisco's CCNA
and CCDA, Novell's CAN/CNE, and specialty certificates for storage,
security and VoIP. Also there are OS-specific certifications for
professionals who would be working on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS
X. Certifications only authenticate your skill. So, excessive certification
don't guarantee a successful career. A network professional needs
to choose certifications at the right stages to boost his career
and also match his experience level. For a beginner it makes more
sense to gain some experience before going for advanced level certification
such as Microsoft's MCSE or Cisco Certified Security Professional.
Within the diverse networking domain, the growth prospects for a
networking professional are very high. Enterprises increasingly
seek specialists for their high-end technology solutions and network
professionals can secure their future with the right choice of specialization
and certifications to compliment their core networking skills. The
table on the next page shows the various certifications available
from different vendors.