You’re hungry, so you walk into a small sandwich shop to get some lunch. You order a ham and cheese sandwich. The order-taker hands your order to someone who pulls out two pieces of bread and puts them on the counter.
Then that person hands the order to someone else who takes out some ham, folds it neatly, and places it on one of the bread slices. They then hand the order to yet another person who brings some cheese to add to the sandwich and, you guessed it, hands the order to another person who comes over and spreads mustard on the other slice of bread. Then, they bring out the closer and the cutter.
Okay, this sounds ridiculous, and it is. One person could easily assemble the entire sandwich. It hardly takes a bread specialist, a meat specialist, a cheese specialist, a condiments specialist, etc., to accomplish such a simple task.
Networks are More Complex Than a Sandwich
Chew on that thought for a minute.
To build and operate a network does require a variety of skills. Software skills, certainly. Also, hardware skills to manage the servers, storage, switches, routers, and other equipment that runs a network. Networking skills to configure communications correctly. Project management skills to make sure everybody does what they’re required to do when they’re required to do it. Security skills to assure that the network is well protected.
In larger networks, it’s reasonable to think that each of these skills may be embodied in a different person or persons. Smaller environments would obviously prefer to achieve economies by having fewer people each take on multiple responsibilities.
But even in the largest networks, it is critical that each person fully understand and appreciate how their segment of responsibility fits in with everything else to optimize their ability:
- When configuring a server, it is highly valuable for the server specialist to understand how that server will communicate with the rest of the devices over the network and how the network will impact server performance.
- When designing and implementing a network to support voice, video, conferencing, application sharing and other high-demand data types, it is critical for the network engineer to understand the end-user applications that will deliver the data to the users.
- Security is a discipline that straddles both worlds, and a deep understanding of the interaction between the various hardware, software, and bandwidth management components is crucial to assuring full data and network security from the core to the perimeter of the network.
- The growing breadth of end-user client devices demands deeper knowledge on both the systems and network sides of the access equation. While management of desktops and laptops has been somewhat standardized new tablet solutions, handheld smartphones and other “smart” devices require far more and far broader intelligence on the part of those who will be supporting their use in a secure and fully-compliant networked environment.
Don’t Risk Creating One-Dimensional Tech Professionals
At a time when many companies are challenged to find qualified technology professionals, you may often find that your best candidates are already in your employ.
It has always been part of a manager’s responsibility to create a growth path for each employee, so fulfill that obligation in the most meaningful and effective way possible. For each of your technology staff members, create a comprehensive training program that extends into multiple, related disciplines.
Have server specialists improve their networking skills. Application developers benefit tremendously when they have deeper knowledge of the systems their code will run on. Project management skills benefit everyone who has them, building a deeper understanding and appreciation for what it takes to get projects done on time and within budget.
Don’t expect anyone to become all things to all technologies. Famed conductor Leonard Bernstein once explained that to be a great conductor one must be able to competently play every instrument in the orchestra. No need to be a virtuoso, just to be able to play each instrument so that one could appreciate what each musician experiences while being conducted.
Build a team of multi-dimensional experts who truly understand and appreciate everything that is going on around them in your technology environment.
Cross-Training at New Horizons
Many technologists turn to New Horizons to broaden their horizons by increasing the number of careers they qualify for.
Companies turn to New Horizons to help them plan the cross-training their people need to grow in the careers they have already embarked upon.
Call New Horizons @ (504) 849-6600 today to start your cross-training plans today.