Demand Rising For Networking Specialists

‘Companies are layering more technologies and applications on networks and they have become more complicated.’

By Sonia Lelii
Dice News Staff | August 2008


During the dot-com boom, it seemed as if every computer science graduate was making a beeline into a cool networking career, to the point where the market was almost saturated with talent. Then the dot-com bust put a damper on IT, even while basic network technologies began to mature.

Now the pendulum is swinging back, as more companies seek out networking specialists.

¿Network jobs are becoming in demand again,¿ says Steven Ostrowski, a spokesperson for the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). ¿Companies are layering more technologies and applications on networks and they have become more complicated."

Today, it’s not enough to know the fundamentals of networking. Ostrowski sees a shortage of talent coming in specialized areas, like VoIP and wireless. Ed Murray, senior vice president of research, development and operations at Gomez, Inc., a Lexington, Mass., company providing Web site performance monitoring services, sees demand focusing on people who have a deep understanding of a specialty within networking. As an example, he sees a growing need for specialists who can analyze logs from routers and switches, then figure out how to optimize traffic at that level.

"We are talking about people that are good at low-level network protocol analysis," says Murray. "Other people may be skilled at the application-level layer technologies."

The demand for IT professionals with a slant toward general networking expertise seems to be more prevalent in certain verticals. According to research conducted by the Center for Strategy Research, companies are finding a significant skills gap in networking expertise among IT workers in education, government and public administration, and healthcare. The center’s report, Skills Gaps in the World’s IT Workforce surveyed 3,578 IT managers throughout the world.

Cisco Systems, a major provider of networking equipment, is taking steps to develop more networking talent – particularly among its channel partners, which account for 80 to 90 percent of its revenue, says Celia Harper-Guerra, director of World Wide Partner Talent.

As part of its recruitment initiatives, Cisco plans to launch the second generation of its Partner Talent Network (formerly called the Partner Talent Portal) as a more interactive site that intelligently matches qualified account managers, system engineers and post-sales system engineer candidates to the right partner. The company is also offering Recruitment Service Solutions, in which partners having difficulty finding talent can leverage Cisco’s 14 national recruitment firms throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico. "We use this to help recruit for tough positions or when a partner is in a scaling mode and they need to hire 50 people fast," says Harper-Guerra.

Sonia Lelii can be reached at sonia.lelii @dice.com.

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