The need for seamlessly moving information across the globe for many to use and share through computers and Internet has given birth to computer networking.
Networking is changing the world of consumer electronics, biomedicine, industrial automation, super computing and defence. With the advent of Ethernet-enabled sensors and controllers, companies are increasingly looking at hooking their factory floor to their executive offices and beyond. Enterprise management is another widespread application made possible by networking.
Computer network management is a purely technical function. In a world where connectivity is the key, expertise in networking can take you places. There are several career avenues within networking, some of which are the following:Instead of working in a bank, credit card company or telecom company where you get to interact face-to-face with the custom
Working from the concept upwards, network administration involves configuring and managing LANs (Local Area Networks), WANs (Wide Area Networks) and VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). You will be responsible for analysing, installing and configuring the company’s network even from a remote location. Monitoring network performance, troubleshooting problems and maintaining network security has to be done on a daily basis. With the proliferation of B2C (business to customer) websites, e-commerce, e-governance, VPN (Virtual Private Networks) and other Internet and telecom-based applications like remote servicing and IVR (Interactive Voice Response) the demand for network administrators is expected to peak in the next couple of years.
Familiarity with the intricacies of the specific systems being used by a company: Windows NT, Novell, Unix, Linux and so forth, thorough knowledge of networked applications, security and virus-protection schemes, system diagnostic utilities and experience with routers, hubs and bridges is also necessary.
Focus more on the set up, troubleshooting and repair of specific hardware and software products.
Visit customer sites to perform “field” upgrades and support functions.
Network Programmers and Analysts
Write software programmes or scripts that help evaluate third party products and integrate new software technologies into an existing or new network environment.
Supervise the work of administrators, engineers, technicians and programmers. They also work at long-range planning and strategy. At the entry level you will be focussing on tasks such as troubleshooting, monitoring, LAN performance, adding or deleting users, adding new servers, etc.
As more and more organisations move their offline transactions online and vast quantities of vital and sensitive data travels through networks, the need for developing “fool proof” e-security systems to safeguard the networks and databases from rampant cracking has emerged as the number one IT concern globally. And consequently, it is one of the hottest and most sought-after specialities.
With over 300 new viruses released everyday and rampant hacking (82,000 recorded cases, according to a Carnegie Mellon University study, governments and corporations have beefed-up their IS spend and tightened access to their systems and core applications. They are looking for people who can administer their enterprise network security safely and securely as a strategic priority.
To excel in this field, you must be as familiar with system programming and administration as with security configuration and firewalls. This also includes knowledge of advanced TCP/IP, security fundamentals, security implementation, router security and attack routes.
The Indian market for computers and peripherals has been growing at a rapid pace. In fact, the networking market is one of the fastest growing segments in the industry. Over three million units were sold in FY 2003-04 and the figure is expected to grow by 40 per cent crossing the 4.2 million mark in 2004-05. Driving this boom are technological innovations and a drop in prices, thanks to the IT agreement under the WTO, which will soon come into effect (translating into a PC penetration of 20 per 1000). Going by the average requirement of one hardware engineer for every 50 machines, the demand for networking professionals is bound to increase.
Moreover, Internet usage is increasing by the day and correspondingly the need for larger bandwidth for simultaneous transfer of data, voice and visuals (still and streaming video). The spurt in demand, has in turn, spurred the need for next generation data services like broadband access, virtual private networking, Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and hi-tech Video Conferencing. With the tremendous growth in telecommunications and networking, people with good knowledge of computer network management on various platforms are in high demand. No doubt then, that there’s a considerable demand gap in the availability of networking professionals globally. Whereas over 1,00,000 networking technicians and engineers are required, there are barely 50,000 of them presently.
Knowledge of computer hardware is the foundation for a career in computer networking. A good course will familiarise you with the basics of operating systems, microprocessors, peripheral devices, computer architecture, assembly and disassembly, installing various software, configuring PCs, preventive maintenance and troubleshooting.
This can be followed by a relevant course/s or certification in networking to gain expertise in LAN and WAN, which is in high demand.
LAN shares the information and resources within the premises through the intranet with the help of products like Windows NT or Windows 2003 from Microsoft, Unix from SCO, Solaris from Sun Microsystems, Netware from Novell, etc. It can be further connected to the Internet through internetworking devices such as Routers and Switches.
WAN is a combination of Internet and Intranet — a network of networks, as it were.
Vendor certifications like Microsoft’s MCSE or Cisco’s CCNA or CCNP or CCIE, or Novel’s CNE or Sun Microsystems’ Sun Solaris Administrator at the higher end, are increasingly sought by recruiters.
Entry level salaries can be as high as Rs.20,000–25,000 for those with relevant vendor certifications like CCNA, etc. Diploma holders could expect to earn Rs.7,000–10,000. At the higher end a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) would get Rs 40,000. Those with good knowledge of ISPs, TCP/IP and the three-odd protocols, lease lines, particularly Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, command anything between Rs.75,000 upto 1.5 lakh+ (plus hefty perks).
The basic qualification for getting into networking is preferably a Degree / Diploma in Computer Sc / Electrical / Electronics / Telecommunication followed by a course in computer hardware.
People with non-engineering background who possess good knowledge of computer fundamentals can also enter this field.
In addition, recruiters prefer certain global certifications.
Some of the popular International Certifications available for LAN/WAN Administration are MCSE, UNIX Admin, LINUX Admin, CNE, etc., whereas for WAN Administration you need CCNA, CCNP, CCDA, CCDP, CCIE.
Internet Security is an emerging technology in networking, which can be implemented by using Firewalls. A large part of the firewall implementation worldwide is done by Checkpoint/Computer Associates.
However, the most preferred certification is VUE Prometric as it covers most certifications — irrespective of the vendor platform.
Coaching facilities for clearing the various online tests for certification are offered at a number of Authorised Training Centres (ATCs) of the company. You can clear the (somewhat tough) test within 6 months of gaining some practical hands-on experience at any hardware establishment specialising in system integration. For list of ATCs log onto www.prometric.com.
For details of other certifications, log onto:
Computer Associates: www.computerassociates.com
Sun Microsystems: www.sunmicrosystems.com