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Monday, March 18, 2002

Networking as career
Sumesh Raizada

In a large or medium size office, bank or research institution, almost every employee nowadays is provided with a desktop PC. This has been necessitated because the speed and accuracy of data processing is much higher with computers as compared to manual processing. Besides, efficiency of operating person or staff member gets increased substantially thereby adding to the profitability of organisation. However, with the increase in a number of computing systems, there is always a need to maintain uniformity between them, i.e. the application software and to some extent hardware configuration should be similar for all installed systems.

This is desirable to enable integrated sharing of data and information between all computers in organisations say banks, financial institutions, revenue departments and telecom exchange. The interlinking of computers so that data or information may be shared between users is usually termed as networking. Networking becomes more complex when hardware equipments having separate software standards installed at different locations are linked together.

The professionals who design software system for the computer networking are called network analysts. They define standards, design applications and explore safety tools for installation on the networked computers so as to make the network effective for communication and data transfer. Several business enterprises these days are opting for manufacturing, marketing or finance functions based on tools like ERP or CRM, for which networking of computers is essential.

Network analysts' design and develop software programs or scripts that helps in network analysis. They also specialise in evaluating third-party products and integrating new software technologies into an existing network environment or develop a different environment to suit the desired application. These professionals are involved in design, development and implementation of the relevant software applications to support business operation of an enterprise. They analyse problems, explore solution that meet the networking requirement of the organisation and finally implement them. They plan and develop new hardware systems or develop methods of utilising existing systems and resources for additional networking operations.


A network analyst must have design, installation, and integration experience. They should have knowledge of Unix, NT, and Cisco and expertise in improving operational efficiencies through the effective management of resources. The duties include installation and maintenance of servers like Novell Netware and Cisco. They are required to configure network client PCs for IBM Host, Novell, and Internet access, create network procedures and documentations, monitor and tune network using management software and other tools. The analyst identify and correct network problems, install or configure network components such as routers, bridges and hubs and provide network technical support and training.

The task of these analysts also includes design, testing and evaluation of systems such as Local Area Networks (LAN), Wide Area Networks (WAN), VSAT, wireless, radio, Internet and other data communications systems. These professionals perform network modelling, analysis and planning and are also involved in research related products. The task also includes making recommendations to higher management on network related hardware and software products.

The analyst plans and organise load configuration of central communication server, coordinates communication network planning, monitoring, testing and servicing of an enterprise. They participate in the planning and implementation of network expansion utilises technical expertise, knowledge of operational requirements and implementation techniques to develop creative networking solutions. They perform troubleshooting, ensure client support and satisfaction, conduct formal and informal training for clients as well as for the staff members, provide consultation and information to clients or staff members on existing or new network products.

The eligibility required for the position includes sufficient hardware and software skills, strong experience with Windows NT / 2000, Solaris or Unix, experience with secure or multiple communications platforms and expertise in using and writing test procedures for functional and security testing. Network Analyst provides technical support to security administrators in task involving computer intrusions and network protection. They evaluate and monitor network activities, firewall installation and administration and identify network safeguard methods. They assist software or hardware administrators in installation and configuration of security products, recommend solutions for the Internet protection involving Web or network connectivity.

The qualification desired for the network analyst might vary for different organisations depending upon the application and experience. However preferred professionals are mostly MCA, Engineering or science graduates with MCSE certification in Windows NT or Sun OS / Solaris certification. They also have sufficient programming experience in C++, Java, Pearl, TCP/IP skills and object-oriented design and programming.

The analyst at senior position performs system evaluation, recommend solution to design team and implement and integrate customised network management and monitoring systems. They have sufficient expertise in using and writing test procedures for functional and security testing, physical security and network communications including TCP/IP, SNMP, and MNTP. The position requires sufficient experience in IP networks, Internet technologies and securing networks. Besides, senior-level analysts provide on-the-job training and guidance to subordinate staff or to the other programmers and maintenance professionals.

The network professionals design networks for business-to-business (B2B) operations, remote access, Internet, firewall and security technologies. They also monitor and support network implementation and engineering for developing and executing plans for networking technologies and platforms. Those desirous of a career in networking must have extensive expertise in Novell NetWare or related server and software products. For individuals, who are proficient in TCP/IP Internet working, environment, management, and troubleshooting can also opt for these careers. The job requires proficiency in installation, administration, and tuning of servers, LAN/WAN, client PCs, wiring, bridges, routers, hubs, modems and effective communication with clients and other technical professionals.

Computer networking involves number of fundamental technologies, which forms the basis of many networking courses. Irrespective of educational background, a network analyst needs to have sufficient knowledge of technologies like IP and TCP/IP, the OSI model, Ethernet and networking. Considering that network technology changes quite fast, a professional has to continuously update himself with the latest developments in the server or software products and certifications.

Though basic qualification for the networking career may be a degree in telecommunication or computer engineering, computer sciences, one should desirably be certified on specialised courses on networking. The certification course module covers routers and switches, installing wire, network diagnostics, monitoring of network activity, protocols, and networking of different operating systems. Server manufacturers or software firms offer certification courses like MCSE from Microsoft or CCNA from Cisco. Many companies, particularly larger ones, offer their employees on the job training depending upon the application and size of project. The employers either design their own courses or hire a consultancy company to conduct the training.

The network professional work in LAN administration, application software and client support. They develop network plans, analysis, design and development of all computer systems in a department or an organisation. The analyst must have sufficient exposure to some of the Network operating systems such as Novell Netware, NT, Microsoft LAN Manager, IBM PC LAN. They are also exposed to Netware management tools and software such as UPS, cable monitors, Lotus spreadsheets, MS-Access, MS-Word, disk and file utilities, virus protection, etc. They have knowledge of languages like HTML, C, dBASE III+, BASIC. They are skilled in NT Server, LAN, WAN, NT Administration and Cable installation or load configuration.