Specialization in Networking

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When it comes to specialization, it is important to have a solid foundation in the basics before branching out into fancier, more complex stuff. And for networking, this is no exception. That foundation is in routing and switching.



“For a lot of the clients out there, this is where their key needs are, in routers and switches,” said Bill Haiges, Dimension Data practice manager of staffing solutions. “Everybody’s got them, they’ve got a lot of them, especially in larger enterprise accounts.”



Haiges also described routing and switching as a good starting-off point for people interested in network specialization, and he said it’s key to have a firm grounding in the basics.



“You have to start at the base level with the certification, and that can be vendor-specific, or it can be vendor-agnostic,” he said. “There are all kinds of certification programs out there.



“Pretty much anybody who’s going to make a career out in networking is really going to want to invest in getting their certification. They’re extremely popular, and companies are there, saying, ‘If I’m going to have you provide someone to me on a long-term or short-term basis, they’re going to have to these certifications.’ It’s really becoming a requirement.”



Haiges cited Cisco, Nortel and Novell as manufacturers whose certifications are especially handy for network specialization. Before choosing a particular vendor’s certification, though, he recommended doing some research in regard to the programs a particular place of employment uses.



“If I’m a Cisco shop, of course I’m going to push a Cisco certification, or if I’m a Nortel shop, I’m going to push a Nortel certification series,” he said. “It’s really going to be dependent upon the type of environment, especially if the company you’re working for is going to pay for the certification — and a lot of companies will do that. I know at Dimension Data, we do pay and reimburse employees for taking certification courses.”



Another foundational network specialization is local area networking (LAN) and metropolitan area networking (MAN).



Wireless networking, while not yet considered integral, is becoming more popular, Haiges said.



“Wireless hasn’t gone as far in the industry as routing and switching just because companies haven’t really invested as much in their wireless applications and their wireless network as they have in their standard, hard-wired applications,” he said.



 Haiges also said that he expects this to change.



“I think you’ll see more and more companies going and providing the wireless networking in their buildings and other facilities simply because you can’t afford to tie someone to a desk — you have to be able to make them mobile,” he said. “The only way to make them mobile without having to put all kinds of network drops all around the facility is to invest in some wireless technology.”



Tied into wireless networking is security, which is another specialization that is growing in popularity, Haiges said.



“The biggest issue that they’ve been dealing with is the security of the wireless network,” he said. “Security, in general, is becoming more and more important, and wireless security for those companies — they’re investing in their wireless infrastructure.



“Security has always been in the background — it’s extremely important, but companies don’t always know enough about it, and they realize they have a security problem when a worm or a hacker or some malicious intent infiltrates their network. That’s when they say, ‘Oh, boy. Now we’re in trouble.’ One of the good things about the security industry is there are a lot more industry standards that are vendor-agnostic than in routing and switching — in the security area, you’ve got a lot more in terms of industry standards.”

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