Current IT Industry Overview
We are often asked which is the strongest growth area of the IT industry. We hope this short summary of upcoming trends will help prospective students determine which path would be the best for them…
Network Infrastructure Market
Over the past 5 or 6 years, the network infrastructure market has been undergoing an evolution: that of virtualization and convergence of networking, server, and storage, as well as that of software defined networking (SDN). Essentially, this is the next generation of the virtualization that has been taking shape in the server world (see description below).
Today, an engineer must be well versed in all aspects of networking to fill the gaps and needs of most modern corporations. This area is evolving the fastest in the cloud and data center disciplines. Additional skills such as programming in Python are now becoming desirable.
The network engineer of the next ten years will have to know the core technologies well enough to be able to interact with them all as a unified system. SDN allows corporations to build application-centric infrastructures that are dynamically programmed to adjust to an application’s needs on a sub-second basis.
Another area where industry evolutions have opened previously untouched networking opportunities is with devices not traditionally considered network-attached devices. This area is referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT) / Internet of Everything (IoE). Both of these areas represent a double digit trillion dollar emerging market that is expected to be fully adopted as mainstream within the next ten years. Everything from apparel, glasses, and watches, to red lights, cars, and appliances fall into this category. The potential benefit to the average corporation is unlimited.
The entry-level candidate looking to enter the IT market today should be fully ready to present themselves as someone who has begun gaining the skills that these potential employers are actively seeking.
Within the enterprise, another major trend, in the IT industry, that is rapidly creating gaps and needs, with sustained growth predicted over the next ten years, is Wireless/WiFi.
Today, the trends of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) are forcing corporations to rapidly expand and optimize their infrastructures to compensate for the explosion in the number of devices brought into the workplace. In the early 2004 timeframe, the norm was that an employee was assigned a PC within a permanent cubicle. Nowadays, that same employee works from the office, home, or on the road and is always “on”. The devices used today are exclusively connected via wireless technologies.
We regularly hear about teams with members at locations across the world that need to coordinate with other team members who may be out in the field. Wireless is becoming not only important to the smooth running of the enterprise, but essential to it.
In addition, enormous strides in capability have recently occurred, such as location-based analytics, where a retail store, for example, can track a customer as they walk through a mall and predictively offer advertisements and coupons based on previous purchases and specific location within the mall in real-time with accuracy measured in inches. You can imagine that the adoption of this enormous new revenue stream is pushing companies to invest heavily.
Security is a major area that has rapidly evolved over the past ten years. Back in the early 2000’s, it was simple enough to understand the basic tenets of security to be useful to a corporation. Most companies, at that point, considered basic firewalls and virus protection to be a valid security approach. Today, the landscape is far more complicated. Firewalls and virus protection are still used, but are understood to have exploitable weaknesses.
Large vendors such as Cisco, IBM, HP, etc. have gone through several years of heavy development and acquisition to modernize their security portfolios. Today major offerings include malware protection, intrusion detection, anomaly detection and mitigation, and programmable policies combined into single appliances. This advance has created multiple disciplines within security, from policy engineer through infrastructure security engineer to security analyst.
At this time the highest-growth sector in security is CyberSecurity, the art of analyzing the threat. No longer are companies taking a purely reactive approach: they are now taking a proactive approach.
In addition to standard corporate security policies, BYOD devices require a complex and jointly-owned personal and corporate policy strategy.
Security for wired and wireless devices differs in approach and technologies used, and the requirement to protect all the billions of devices being connected through IoT/IoE will make this an in-demand field for many years to come.
There are many people throughout the market serving in senior roles in the server field that began as CompTIA A+ or Microsoft MCSA but, at the entry level, there is far more competition and less job security. Today, there is very little need for an employee that can put together a PC from parts, because most corporations have large purchase agreements with vendors such as Dell and Lenovo to provide complete systems. In addition, the emerging trends for corporations today are described in what the industry calls BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). BYOD began a number of years ago with the introduction of the iPad as a predominant employee end-device which has developed, over the years, to encompass an array of end-user devices. Since most corporations cannot fight this trend they are widely embracing it.
By way of example, recently one of the major world-leading technology companies has almost completely stopped issuing laptops to its employees. Instead, employees receive a stipend to purchase their own. As a result, the predominant devices in this particular company have become Mac laptops and iPads. This same trend is happening everywhere throughout corporate America and is growing at a rapid pace.
Within the server world, the trend is moving towards heavy virtualization. This began in mid-2008 with the introduction of VMware and required that a server engineer needed to be skilled in multiple operating systems such as Microsoft, Linux, VMware and Citrix to stand out and remains true today. From a skill-set perspective, the more desirable skill in this market is to be a well-rounded server admin, who is familiar with multiple enterprise systems. As part of the BYOD and Virtualization trends, many companies are rapidly expanding their support of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) – you buy your own laptop and then connect to VMware/Citrix where you will load a corporate version of Windows.
This is an attempt to merge the wild west of BYOD with the traditional corporate-owned device. The other major trend in this area is that Cisco is now the leader in many sectors of server sales, which occurred as a result of a launch in 2008 of the Cisco UCS server family. Cisco created a paradigm shift by merging server hardware with networking and storage, thus creating a single converged system. Today, the engineer responsible for that system must be cross-skilled in multiple server technologies, networking, and storage. The same applies to IBM and HP where all three major players are doing the same thing.
Related Industry Certifications
In summary, trying to get an entry level job, in the ever changing IT industry is difficult if the candidate chooses the wrong certifications, or none at all, to go with their limited experience. It is better for them to determine where they want to be in 5 years time and aim for certifications that will help them achieve their goal.
Looking at the numbers, more than 75% of IT engineers in the US hold at least 1 industry certification and, of those, most hold 2-3 certifications.
It is definitely worth making the effort to earn IT industry certifications: for the same job role, engineers who possess certifications, when compared with engineers who have no certifications, earn salaries that are approximately 20% higher!
If you are looking to make your mark in the IT Industry, then NC-Expert offers excellent training courses aimed at relevant IT industry certifications – contact us today to get started.