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“Hundreds of multinational firms will come to India. Creating room for thousands of jobs. The number of IT professionals India churns out every year may not be enough to meet the growing demand”
Vishnu R. Dusad, Managing Director, Nucleus Software Exports
“At 30% a year, the growth in the IT sector in India is phenomenal. But though we produce engineers, the skill-sets required are often missing” Kiran Karnik, President, Nasscom
Want to know what IT has in store for your future and avenues that specific technologies such as Java and .NET have come up with? Here's a career guide to make you conversant of the upcoming opportunities

Infrastructure, Manufacturing, Telecom or Pharma--speak of any industry and you'll get to hear of their stupendous growth. IT is the backbone behind all sectors and plays a pivotal role in the growth of the business. All these sectors require the services of skilled IT people. Starting this month, we'll feature a regular story on hot career opportunities in IT.
Today, there's a growing requirement for IT professionals in areas such as programming, engineering, database, information warehousing, Internet and E-Commerce, enterprise application deployment and management, SOA, and networking. Each area requires professionals at all levels right from the architects who'll define these solutions to managers who will implement and manage them.
We'll start off with the developer segment, because that's one segment which spans all others. For instance, although you need professionals with business and implementation knowledge for deploying enterprise applications like ERP and CRM, you'll still need somebody who can customize the code of these applications. The same thing holds true for other areas as well, such as SOA, Internet and e-Commerce, etc. Let's start with a broad overview of the career opportunities in these areas.
Basically, there are two main platforms that most developer population works upon, Java and .NET. SOA is another buzzword-virtually every enterprise is trying to get on this bandwagon, and hence this field also has a high potential for IT professionals. Similarly, another area where a lot of activity is happening is embedded technologies and mobility and yes, not to forget the ERP domain which have had always been a top priority for any enterprise. It is not just IT companies, there are a plethora of new ways coming up for the IT professionals to build their career in. One way is to gain expertise in one specific domain such as SOA and ERP and then climb the career ladder. And the interesting thing is that these domains are not restricted for hard core IT guys even non-IT knowledge holders can enter this arena. In this article, we'll not only discuss all the hidden opportunities that are there for IT as well as non IT professionals, but we'll also guide them about how they can choose their perfect career path.

Opportunities for Java Developers

Java is a key platform being used by software houses the world over for developing applications. There's a lot of action happening in this domain, and today, there's great demand for Java professionals. There are two possible career paths that a Java professional can follow. One is Web development and the other toward building enterprise class applications. For a developer who is freshly venturing into the Web development field will have to learn JSP, Java Servlets, and other Web 2.0 technologies besides having good knowledge of core Java programming. For Web applications that are mainly built on Java server side technologies, the scripting languages like JavaScript, JRuby etc. become a natural bundle to learn for the client side programming for developers. Same ways if the developer ventures into the enterprise class solution and application development he would have to update his knowledge toward J2EE technologies like EJBs and other variants like Spring framework, RMI and other distributed computing components knowhow.
With Java being open sourced, there have been many technologies and frameworks that have spawned in recent times to bolster the avenues to career prospects. With the advent of Web 2.0 standards and RIA-based applications taking on the enterprise world, technologies like JavaFX, AJAX, Google Web Toolkit, and other frameworks have made it easier for a developer to develop and even design intuitive interfaces for the applications. A developer with a good in-depth knowledge of core Java can easily learn and become comfortable with these new Java frameworks and technologies. A good developer is one who knows how to get things worked, rather than just using a tool or technology. Sai Satish, Staff Engineer at sun Microsystems also says that ?No amount of documentation reading or knowledge of a given framework or technology can be utilized by a developer for a project, until he's well practiced with the coding part involved to it to realize where and how to implement the things.?
Certifications are also beneficial along with the required academic qualifications for a certain job requirement. Certification not only adds weight and authenticity to a job seeker's profile but also cements his knowhow in that area. According to a study, it was revealed that the professionals having certifications were found to be more productive than non-certified professionals in 85% of the cases. That's why even HR managers during recruitments give additional advantage to professionals having certifications in specific area of Java technologies. Having a certification, even with lesser experience, bends favor toward the certified professional. Also the experienced Java professionals can benefit by having specialized certifications to endorse their knowledge and technology knowhow of specialized domains like Sun Mobile Application Developer or IBM's certification for WebSphere specialists. For Java and components related to that there are certification exams available from Sun Microsystems, while the likes of IBM and Oracle have certifications available for professionals using and working on their application servers and portal technologies.

For specific vertical or domain, there is a dire need of Java professionals who are experts in that domain like healthcare, telecom, etc. This demand for domain expert Java professional is because these professionals would be recognising the needs of their domain area and can put Java technologies to the best use in their domain. They can also contribute with their experti se on that domain toward the building of Java technology related solutions that can cater to their industry domain.
According to Sai Satish, Staff Engineer at Sun Microsystems, developers can look forward to new technologies like SOA, Web 2.0, RIAs and learn their framework and supporting languages to make a steady career growth. He says that the primary driver for Java enabled phones is the content--games, in mobile devices, PDAs and even set-top boxes, have a huge demand in India.
Even the operators are demanding Java based applications and games that can be used by subscribers. Thus developers with Java ME skills are in demand for creating such applications.
Secondly there is a huge scope for Java developers with experience in mobile operating platforms like Symbian and Windows as they can integrate the core OS features like graphics engine or audio services into their Java applications

Opportunities for .NET developers
The Microsoft .NET Framework is the other widely used development platform across the globe and in India also, there is a mammoth developer base working on this platform.
With the .NET framework, Microsoft has tried to unify the diversified functions of development and support life cycle of software development. Jimmy P. Shaw, MD at ShawMan Software Pvt. Ltd. says how this framework has helped developers to choose career path as ?With .NET, a budding developer does not have to make a decision early on in his career to choose his area of expertise which he earlier was forced to do. A fresher can now spend time understanding and mastering a single unified framework from where he can gradually move into one of the more critical roles of managing systems architecture, DB design and administration, security, etc.?
For a developer who has knowledge of his own programming environment like VB.NET, ASP.NET or C# etc., there is an abundance of oppurtunites for them. Since there is a lot hapenning in the Web 2.0, a developer can also build skills on technologies that enable the next generation web such as Silverlight, AJAX, Expression as well as those which enable rich user experiences such as WPF. Also with mobile and embedded technology being one of the emerging trends in the Indian software arena, the .NET developers have a good prospect here as many of these area are based on .NET framework and developers having core .NET skills can switch easily to mobile domain. These technologies are seeing large-scale adoption in small as well as large IT companies in India and .NET developers are uniquely positioned to leverage this opportunity without having to go through a completely new learning curve.
Certifications are the best way to demonstrate one's skills and expertise on Microsoft technologies and are a catalyst to recognition and growth in a software career. There are several .NET certifications available depending on career interests a developer can choose his certification course starting from technology specialist stage to the software architects stage. Technology Specialist certifications are now available for .NET 3.5 technologies such as Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Communication Foundation and Windows Workflow Foundation. Being certified in these technologies is an endorsement and validation of one's skills in these technologies. All the top software companies are adopting these technologies and building software applications and products based on these technologies. These specialized skills also offer better career opportunities currently and .NET developers should consider upgrading their skills to leverage this opportunity. These technologies are being adopted at a fast pace, which opens a lot of career opportunities for software developers.
Tarun Gulati, GM Marketing at Microsoft India says that aspiring and beginner developers, should first build strong programming and computing fundamentals, which remain applicable no matter which version of technology is introduced. Once they are conversant with the fundamentals of .NET framework, they can start building a breadth of skills around desktop development, web and RIA development, mobile and embedded development as well as gaming development.
As they progress in their career, they should build their skills around software design, architecture and project management. Microsoft offers learning resources for each of these areas.

Making a career in SOA
Organizations are now vying to achieve seamless business environment, and SOA is an answer to that. This field requires developers who can develop standards based applications that can now or in future be compliant to the services based architecture. Also the SOA architects and analysts who plan the SOA path for an organization are the job prospect that is seeing an increased requirement. Now for an IT professional, there are various roles available in the SOA domain depending on the area of work. Some of these roles like Process Analyst and Enterprise Architect is for those who have the business knowledge of the organization. While the professionals who do not interact with the business can opt for roles of Configuration management, Information architect etc.
While the developers at junior base can concentrate on assembling the business rules and services, and making them available to the different interfaces. They would be building the enterprise components and services for the processes of the organization that will be interacting.
The professionals who want to be SOA experts, have to learn a lot about the enabling technologies like XML, SOAP, UDDI, etc. and the framework analogies like ESB, etc. along with the whole business understanding for enterprise functions. It is known that SOA has the potential to change the way systems are built today and how they can be made to function seamlessly in the future. Therefore, learning effort in this area won't go waste and will just open new avenues for professionals.

Mobile and Embedded Technology
Mobile and embedded software has become main-stream in India in recent times with the advent of increasing usage of mobiles. This is not only attributed to mobile devices but also devices like set-top boxes, DVD players and others where there's an embedded chip to program the device to function intelligently. This domain is wide open for developers of both platforms, namely Java and .NET. The other stream is for the Operating System architects for the mobile phones. The OSes for mobile devices are majorly on Symbian, Linux and Windows. Now Java based operating system called Java FX Mobile too have been launched for mobile devices. Developers of java can tone up their skill for mobile devices by learning JavaFX and Java ME for development of applications. Similarly.NET developers can opt for Windows Embedded CE technology for embedded programming. There are vast scopes of opportunities for embedded programmers with devices being programmed and also for the mobile environment.

Opportunities for Enterprise Applications Professionals

ERP, CRM and other business process based enterprise solutions have always been in demand, now the organizations are trying to gain the maximum from these for their businesses. Now with most organization implementing SOA or moving towards Enterprise Implementation, these ERP professional who have domain expertise in areas like HR, sales and distribution, supply chain management, etc. have become highly sought after professionals. This is because they are the ones who will be having core business knowledge of a domain and they can help, define and identify the processes that need to be incorporated for the service orchestration. Above that, since organizations are looking towards solutions that provides them to extend their business opportunities and collaborate in real time between different deparments and offices. People having domain expertise are being involved in building such solutions for the enterprise, as they have the proper knowledge of the functioning of different processes and can identify and specify the changes that will be needed for achieving the enterprises goals.
Thus, even a non-IT professional who has sufficient knowledge and experience in specific area of organisational work can become ERP consultants and enterprise application analysts by undergoing certification courses targeting their domains like HR, SD, SCM, etc.

Opportunities in Networking
With telecom, Internet and media communication among other areas where various network technologies like IP telephony and wireless are used; has opened many paths for a networking professional to follow and pursue his career in that. The networking professional can vie for systems analyst, network manager, infrastructure manager and network consultants as career objectives. With basic certifications like A+, CCNA for base networking knowledge to certifications that are highly specific and are meant for specialization in a particular network skill like network security are ones that a networking professional should posses to demonstrate his skill and expertise in that area. There are several certification courses available from Cisco, Microsoft, etc., but it's highly advisable for a budding professional to check for the credentials of the institutes that would be providing the training and certificate examination for these courses.

User Experience Experts
Gone are the days when applications or websites just had to be content rich, now along with content the focus has shifted towards providing rich experience to the user. For this not only designers but also developers are being sought who can create such applications using new RIA tools and technologies like AJAX, Flex, AIR, Silverlight, Expression, etc. This user experience is not just limited to websites or end-user based enterprise or desktop applications, but also to the platforms like mobiles, hand-held devices etc. Thus, a professional with creative ideas is needed who can design and make nice apps for the users.
Rahul Sah with help from Jasmine Desai



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