by September 15, 2001 0 comments

If we were to analyze the IT industry as a pie, then it can be cut into three slices. The first comprises those who create IT.. These are the software professionals, project leaders, content creators, and the like who write or document the code beneath all those applications. The second slice consists of those who implement this software and hardware. These include network administrators, consultants, and the like. They have the operational knowledge to tune applications to a particular line of business. The last slice of the pie comprises those who run and maintain it, that is, the IT support staff. With the slowdown, it’s the software professionals who have been the worst hit, probably because they form the largest portion of the pie. That still leaves the other two slices (they may seem miniscule compared to the first), which hold a lot of promise for the future.

Market needs

Lots of companies have an IT infrastructure, and lots yet (at least in India), would like to have it. This means that they all have or want a network with at least certain basic components like a file server, mail server, database server, and Internet access. The larger ones would even be running enterprise applications such as ERP and CRM. The slowdown doesn’t mean that these companies will shutdown everything. In fact, they need to keep their networks running better than before to improve productivity and remain competitive. For this, they need skilled staff that will run their IT infrastructure smoothly. Perhaps that’s why the networking jobs are in great demand today. When researching and writing this story, we found that most job sites have long listings of requirements for networking professionals.

Networking professionals

The market for networking professionals can be divided into two. First are the administrator-level people, who handle the back-end infrastructure of a network such as the network OS, WAN links, database servers, enterprise application servers, and Internet gateways. This infrastructure is very vast, and has plenty of opportunities in it. For instance, a company running an enterprise application such as SAP, will also have a heavy-duty database server such as Oracle at the back-end. Therefore, the company will need both a SAP consultant and a database administrator to handle the job.

IT support staff

Second are the front-line staff who take care of all clients on a network. They handle complaints that employees have with their computers, that is, they extract the nature of the problem from the harried employee, and resolve the issue as soon as possible. Since they interact with different kinds of employees, they must have excellent communication skills, apart from the technical ones, to be able to handle queries effectively. While many companies hire their own support staff, others outsource it and give out AMCs (Annual Maintenance Contracts).

There are a vast opportunities within both these two categories of networking, mainly because of the diversity in it. Plus, it’s also growing very rapidly with the introduction of new technologies, such as wireless networks and enterprise storage. However, this also requires a lot of re-skilling. For instance, 10/100 Mbps based Ethernet networks are fairly common these days. However, 1 Gbps Ethernet is catching on, and wireless networking has also started picking up. Therefore, a networking professional must be quick to catch up with new technologies, so that his knowledge doesn’t become obsolete.

Overall, the networking area is only expected to grow in the future, as more companies become IT-enabled.

Anil Chopra

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