What Are Some Top Tech Trends and Skills of the Future?

Cisco has released the results of a survey of its Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) holders, the highest level of professional certification offered by Cisco. The survey results speak to what skills CCIEs will be prioritizing in the next five years, as well as their views on green computing initiatives.

Cisco partnered with research firm Illuminas to conduct the survey, which saw response from 970 CCIE certificants from nearly 80 countries. Survey respondents work for employers ranging from Fortune 500 to small and midsized companies across a variety of industry verticals.

According to Fred Weiller, director of talent development marketing at Cisco, asking respondents to rank the top technology trends and skills of the next five years resulted in both predictable and surprising results.

“When we asked CCIEs what are the technologies and the technology trends of the future, they pretty much came up with virtualization [and] unique communications including video and cloud communication,” Weiller said. “But then, when we asked them what will be the in-demand skills, which is different from the technologies themselves, what came up No. 1 was security and risk management. That was a surprise because security and risk management doesn’t get as much big headlines. It’s not the hottest topic like video or virtualization.”

Weiller said this makes sense when one considers how closely CCIEs work with networks.

“It’s understandable when you understand networks,” he said. “They didn’t go for the buzzwords, if you will. They really went for what actual professionals need to know — a deep understanding of what it takes to really get a network running and run it well.”

CCIEs rated network architecture and network design as the second and third, respectively, skills most likely to be in demand in the next five years.

“It’s reflective of the fact that networks have now become a collapsed utility,” Weiller said. “Before you used to have a network for data, a network for VoIP, a network for video surveillance and security, etc. Now it’s all coming together into one single network, and there’s a demand for people who have architecture [and] design skills, who can map business objectives to a vision [of] all those networking technologies coming together.”

According to the survey, CCIE holders expect energy efficiency in the data center to be the top green networking initiative impacting networks over the next five years.

“By 58 percent they rated energy efficiency in the data center as the top green initiative,” Weiller said, adding that this is in line with the increasing demand for computer power in data centers, which Cisco sees as continuing for the foreseeable future.

“It keeps growing, but at the same time it needs to grow in an energy-efficient way,” Weiller said. He added that the second- and third-ranked initiatives here — teleconferencing or telepresence, followed by teleworking — are differently pitched: “Those are a business-centric application of IT rather than [an effort to] save energy in our IT environment.”

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