infoTECH Feature

July 31, 2018

As the Network Changes, So Must the Networker

By Special Guest
Antonella Corno, Senior Manager, Product Strategy, Learning@Cisco

Technology has made its way into just about every kind of job. That’s true whether you’re a doctor, a fisherman, a truck driver, or an IT specialist.  Businesses are increasingly using connected technology to become more efficient, productive and profitable, and many jobs are changing as a result.

Professionals with the right skills are finding that the IT and networking space holds many opportunities.  They can position professionals to lead digital transformation projects, to automate enterprise networks, and so much more.  That’s why the sky is the limit for those trained and certified in the latest technology.

Forces of change

One needs to look no further than the IoT to find one of the major trends driving network transformation.  The number of connected things is growing at a rapid rate.  Leading analyst firm Gartner (News - Alert) said there were more than 8.4 billion things connected to the internet as of last year.  There’s much more to come on that front.  The proliferation of connected endpoints is occurring so fast that it’s becoming impossible to configure devices manually, so organizations need to start using automation.

Current network strategies make it impossible to manage and secure devices and applications once they have gone live.   Networks are evolving to become more automated, intelligent, and programmable.

Strategy and process must be addressed before businesses build new networks.  This includes mapping out business goals and deciding what data, people, and things are needed to achieve them.  It also involves bringing together the partners, teams, and technologies to make that happen.  It requires new skillsets because setting policy and programming in advanced, automated networks is a complex undertaking.

The evolving network needs these skills

An evolution is happening in the network – it is becoming more responsive, reliable, and secure. Automation, analytics, IoT, policy-based network management, programmability, and virtualization are enabling these changes.  The technologies and the way they’re being applied are new, so IT and networking professionals need new skills to make them work for businesses.  What are the fundamental skills IT and networking professionals need to appeal to hiring managers, secure and boost their careers, and bring greater value to employers? 

To begin with, the basics of LAN and WAN switching and routing are critical for IT experts to know.  These skills will help network engineers configure, verify, troubleshoot and secure today’s networks.

IT professionals who understand, implement and manage software-centric networks are increasingly in demand as the network continues to evolve.  This involves using APIs, controllers, policy and virtualization.  These technologies and tools allow for greater automation, network intelligence and agility.

The growing number of applications and endpoints can only be managed these days by automation and virtualization.  Simplified network control through abstraction helps them cope with the complexity of containers, microservices, and virtual machines.  Advanced analytics assist them with the new dynamics of applications in the network and help predict problems due to congestion, failures and security breaches.

Though the need for advanced networking is significant, there are other areas of need as well.  Professionals with skills related to cloud, cybersecurity, and application and network performance are also in high demand to keep businesses and their customers safe, and ensure applications and services provide the value organizations and end users expect and require.

Another invaluable skill set is found in those who lead digital transformation projects – and keep them on schedule and within budget.  That’s why skills in business intelligence, business architecture, machine learning and digital transformation are important.

The Worldwide IT Employment Model Future of IT Survey from IDC (News - Alert) noted that the most in-demand IT roles involve:

  • Digital transformation
  • IT infrastructure
  • Cybersecurity
  • Software and application development
  • Data management and analytics

The full potential of the network cannot be explored or accelerated without these fundamental and advanced skills.  As the network continues to change, it’s essential that learning is treated as a continuous journey.

Remaining relevant

As technological advances continue, the network will keep changing.  Job roles will keep changing, too.  That’s why it’s essential that IT professionals continue to adapt and learn.  By getting trained and certified in the latest IT technologies, individuals can build the skills that they need to stay ahead.  By educating employees, businesses can be prepared for change, too.

Like death and taxes, change is a certainty.  While the specifics cannot always be predicted with total accuracy, what is clear is that ongoing education and training are essential to success. Businesses cannot remain competitive in this time of rapid change without skilled employees to lead the charge.

About the author – Antonella Corno is the senior manager of product strategy at Learning@Cisco.  She actively manages the development of the learning portfolio, overseeing a team that translates information from hardware and software developers to architects of technology training and certification.  After spending more than two decades across two continents working in technology research and development for leading Information Technology (IT) firms, Antonella understands the challenges that individuals face when entering, training and updating skills in the IT industry. Antonella works tirelessly to build frameworks for these individuals to enable the learning process. Antonella is a CCIE Emeritus, has spoken at several international conferences, and holds multiple international patents.

Edited by Erik Linask

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