As technology continues to synchronize, IT job roles are converging along with it, with data- and voice-based competence dovetailing in the same positions. According to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), the industry has articulated a need for IT professionals who bridge the gap between different communications technologies. CompTIA has responded with its new Convergence+ certification.
The certification is designed to help IT and communications professionals expand their skills beyond data-only or voice-only capabilities. The credential validates knowledge and skills in areas of communications technologies in which data, voice, video and broadcast multimedia technologies are combined in a single IP-based delivery system. CompTIA recommends this certification to individuals with 18 to 24 months of experience in data networking, voice networking or a combination of the two.
Steven Ostrowski, CompTIA director of corporate communications, said this certification keeps pace with the movement of all communication toward one conduit.
“The trend seems to be that everything is eventually going to be carried over your IP network,” Ostrowski said.
The association expects this trend to continue indefinitely, and the industry apparently agrees. Cornerstone organizations such as Avia, Siemens and Intel support this certification because they need professionals who can install and maintain convergent applications.
When CompTIA began developing Convergence+, it discovered somewhat of a skill shortage in this area.
“What we found, when we started developing the certification two years ago, is that there were a number of people who knew how to hook a data network together, link the PCs to the servers and connect them all in a LAN or a WAN or a wireless plan or whatever it happened to be, but when they were asked to do the voice element and put that on top of the data, they didn’t have the experience to deal with telephony and voice issues,” Ostrowski said. “On the other hand, there were a lot of telephony people out there who could hook up phone networks but were stumped when it came time to doing the voice-over IP and putting the voice over the same data network.
“So, that’s where the skills are converging. You have to have your feet in both camps. You have to have ability to do both the data network and add the voice element on top.”
Convergence+ aims to create more IT professionals with such a blended skill set and not a moment too soon — according to global connectivity research firm Yankee Group, the voice-over Internet protocol (VoIP) market for small- and medium-sized businesses is expected to reach more than $1 billion by 2009.
Meanwhile, the total market value in revenue terms for services using VoIP is forecast to grow by a factor of 10 over the next five years, according to telecommunications analyst Juniper Research.