Wednesday, October 18, 2017
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Pillars of the computer world
Network engineers

Pillars of the computer world

Network engineers have graduated from traditional job responsibilities to more complex tasks. And this makes this an exciting choice18 Oct 2017 | 12:38 AM

The coming decade is that of Information Technology and Digital Transformation. It is about integration of software and hardware.

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Gauri Chhabra

The coming decade is that of Information Technology and Digital Transformation. It is about integration of software and hardware. With the way technological advancements are entering day-to-day lives, we need to have stronger networking systems that build a corridor between the software we build and the hardware that supports them. Such corridors are built by Network Engineers. Although these engineers mainly plan networks, they might also perform job tasks like deciding which type of hardware is needed to support a network, designing the layout for data communication networks, and determining what types of security the network needs. To be a successful network engineer you need to be a confident communicator and possess excellent attention to detail, analytical and problem-solving skills.

Network Engineers have graduated from traditional job responsibilities like working on routers, switches, firewalls, wireless access points and controllers, load balancers, intrusion detection and prevention systems to more complex tasks like server maintenance involving virtualisation and network management software. So, the task starts from linking all computers with the central computer and ensuring that all programmes and files are available to each computer as necessary to also linking  the computers to machines such as, printers, and telephones. 

Eligibility and skill-set

To enter this field you should have the thorough knowledge about the components of computer. You must at least have a bachelor’s degree in a computer- related field, such as programming, computer science, engineering or similar, and many employers prefer applicants to have an MBA in Information Systems. Employers also look for experience in the field, either working with IT systems or in network administration.

As a network engineer, you would  need analytical, customer-service, organisation, leadership and problem-solving skills, as well as attention to detail and an ability to work in teams. 

Work responsibilities

You will have to conceptualise and devise network designs on the basis of the specific requirements of the client or the company. In order to be able to do this, you must have a good understanding of local area networks (LAN), proxy servers and the hardware that makes the system functional.

  • Maintenance is another critical aspect of being a network engineer, requiring good networking knowledge. This could enable a professional to optimise hardware configuration and network operability, troubleshoot any fault, errors or inconsistencies, and be able to tune network performance according to the requirements of the given system.
  • You would need to compile reports on the performance of systems and therefore you need to be able to track budget expenses, manage individual projects and be able to coordinate with colleagues to provide an accurate account of network performances.
  • Licensing is key. You need to get a license (such as Cisco Certified Network Associate, CCNA) from the concerned professional body if you wish to operate privately or on a contractual basis.

Top certifications that would add value to your resume:

CCNP: Cisco Certified Network Professional

The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) exam is used to gauge a network professional’s ability to architect, implement, operate and troubleshoot LANs and WANs in enterprise environments. It also justifies their ability to work in collaboration with specialists on advanced security, voice, wireless and video solutions. It is designed for candidates with at least one year of networking experience. 

Examinees who pass the CCNP exam will have proven that they possess the demonstrated skills required in enterprise roles such as network technician, support engineer, systems engineer, network engineer and network administrator. Prerequisites for candidates that wish to take the CCNP exam include the Cisco Certified Network Associate — Routing & Switching Certification (CCNA).

CCIE SECURITY  

The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert Security (CCIE Security) programme recognises individuals who have the knowledge and skills to implement, maintain and support extensive Cisco Network Security Solutions using the latest industry best practices and technologies. There are no formal prerequisites for CCIE certification. Other professional certifications or training courses are not required. Instead, candidates must first pass a written qualification exam and then the corresponding hands-on lab exam. You are strongly encouraged to have three to five years of job experience before attempting certification.

Juniper Networks Certification Programme (JNCP)

This certification consists of job role and platform specific, multi-tiered tracks that allow you  to demonstrate competence with Juniper Networks technology. You would demonstrate a thorough understanding of networking technology and Juniper Networks platform configuration and troubleshooting skills. 

CompTIA Network+

CompTIA Network+ validates the knowledge and skills of networking professionals. It is an international, vendor-neutral certification that recognises a technician's ability to describe the features and functions of networking components and to manage, maintain, troubleshoot, install, operate and configure basic network infrastructure. 

Although not a prerequisite, it is recommended that CompTIA Network+ candidates have at least nine months of experience in network support or administration or adequate academic training, along with a CompTIA A+ certification. 

The demand for skilled networking support professionals continues to grow, and CompTIA Network+ is a valuable credential to help launch or enhance a networking career. In fact, many IT certifications integrate CompTIA Network+ into their curriculums. 

WCNA: Wireshark Certified Network Analyst

In your day-to-day role as a network engineer you will spend much of your time resolving network issues from DNS, DHCP and TCP to slow performance issues and possible hacking attempts. An essential part of your role will be the ability to capture and analyse packets travelling across the network, interpret the results and make suggestions based upon what you find. This course covers all you need to know about using Wireshark packet capture tool and equips you take take the highly prized exam, the Wireshark Certified Network Analyst or WCNA.

The road ahead

There has been a school of thought that believes that automation might eat up networking jobs. 

In fact, all you need is a  shift in focus. At one time, network engineers slaved over network construction and configuration, but automation will relieve some of those menial frustrations. 

Professionals in this field can focus instead on simplifying the results for the end user. 

Businesses want to deliver the fastest, most efficient service possible to their customers, and their networks must support their goals. 

You just need to focus on how your roles  will change and what skills and knowledge you  need to develop. 

As this next wave of change occurs, your jobs  will become less complex and more results-based. For young network engineers in particular, this might serve as a welcome evolution.

Keeping track of your career’s future can help you plan for it. If you stay ahead of the curve, you’ll gain additional job security and become more in demand.


Institute watch

  • Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Technical University, Bathinda  Offering MTech Computer Network Engineering
  • Government College of Engineering, Kerala Offering MTech Computer Network Engineering
  • Advanced college of Technology and Management, Haryana  Offering MTech Computer Network Engineering
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh Offering M.Tech Computer Network Engineering
  • Sharda University, Noida Offering M.Tech Computer Network Engineering

Career Scape

Network administrators might determine what type of network an organisation needs, install network components and manage a network’s operation. They might also train workers on how to properly use the network and collect data about the network’s operation. Some of the career options for Network Engineer are:

  • Network Systems and Data Communication Analyst: These professionals  plan, design, test and oversee the operation of local area networks (LAN) and Internet systems for businesses and other organisations. You will also investigate computer programs and recommend specific hardware or software solutions.
  • Computer Systems Analyst: Computer systems analysts conceptualise and develop computing systems for organisations and businesses. You might identify programmes that can improve efficiency or design entirely new IT systems. When identifying the causes of system problems, systems analysts may research computer user information, business procedures and existing automated processes. 
  • Network Administrator: Network administrators oversee the operation of company network and Internet systems to ensure they’re functioning properly. You may also plan, design and coordinate computer software network systems. While working as network administrator professionals sometimes you will oversee computer and network security programmes.
  • Telecommunications Specialist: Telecommunications specialists install networking and telecommunications systems designed by network systems and data communications analysts. You may also provide training on how to use programmes and oversee their maintenance.
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