Wednesday, August 20, 2008
1970 - ALOHAnet was developed at the University of Hawaii
1985 - Federal Communication Commission (FCC) announced authorized license-free spread spectrum wireless equipment in three ISM bands
1991 - The first IEEE workshop on Wireless LAN was held. Early wireless LAN products had also just appeared in the market and the IEEE 802.11 committee had just started its activities to
develop a standard for wireless LANs
1997 - Federal Communication Commission (FCC) announced authorized license-free spread spectrum wireless equipment in three U-NII bands
Friday, August 8, 2008
The common lament of job seekers, that "employers only hire people with experience, yet the only way to gain experience is to get hired" applies in the computer networking field as well. Despite optimistic statements that one hears frequently regarding the number of available jobs in IT, landing an entry-level position can still prove difficult and frustrating.
More of this Feature
• Part 1: Networking Job Titles
• Part 2: Choices in Education
Join the Discussion
"Of course this is just my opinion, but I have found that experience is what most companies are looking for first. Certifications are second, and education is last."
• Certification Resources
• Networking Career/Job Resources
One way to gain networking experience is to pursue a full-time programming or help desk "internship" during the summer months, or a part-time "work study" job at school. An internship may not pay well initially, the work may turn out to be relatively uninteresting, and it is very likely one will not be able to finish any substantial project during the limited time there. However, the most important factor to consider is the training and hands-on experience such a job offers. The mere fact a person invests their time in this way, demonstrates the dedication and interest employers like to see.
The better the position, the more likely multiple candidates will apply for it, even if the job entails only part-time work. A good way to "stand out" from the competition is to demonstrate prior work and accomplishments, even if these involve projects done on one's own time. A person can start with a class project, for example, and extend it in some way. Or they can create their own personal projects, experimenting with networking administration tools and scripts, for example.
One of the most overlooked skills in computer networking is the ability to explain technical information. Whether verbally, through email, or in formal writing, networkers that communicate well gain a significant advantage in building their careers.
For the beginning networker, the most obvious benefit of good communications skills is realized in job interviews. Being able to talk with people about technical subjects can be hard to do, but as one gains skill in answering impromptu questions, one builds confidence and relaxes, making one that much better prepared for career advancement. It is a good idea to periodically engage in job interviews for this reason, even if the position involved does not seem particularly appealing. Likewise one should also consider visiting local job fairs occasionally.
One of the most common questions asked by beginning networkers is "Which technology should I focus on first? Microsoft? UNIX? Cisco? Novell?" As with certifications, preferences vary from company to company and person to person.
One way for a person to answer this question is to start with the technology that appears most interesting to them personally. Researching a company that one plans to interview with, and choosing a technology that the company deems important, is another way. Ultimately it probably matters little which networking technology one learns first. More importantly, one should acknowledge that technology changes rapidly, and that the person who can enjoy a successful career by learning about only one technology is rare indeed.
Focus on the Basics
Computer networking involves a certain number of fundamental technologies. These technologies form the basis of many networking courses. Regardless of the form of education one chooses to invest in, one's career will always benefit from deeper study of technologies like IP and TCP/IP, the OSI model, Ethernet, internetworking, and others listed on this site, whether through formal coursework or through self-study.
Some people have asserted that networking (and IT generally) is a "young person's game," and that companies generally prefer to turn over their employee base periodically, to bring in younger, more affordable workers. This concept might sound appealing to some, but if it were true, it would make networking careers less inviting to most people.
Realistically, the field of computer networking presents so much complexity, and involves such a wide range of technologies, that most serious companies should value both experienced employees and ambitious new employees highly. In fact, an effective career strategy involves seeking out more experienced people in one's field, and learning new skills from these mentors.
Many firms view four-years degrees as a sign of commitment to the field. Network technology changes very fast, so employers care both about a person's current knowledge and also their ability to learn and adapt for the future. Certifications effectively prove current knowledge, but college degrees best demonstrate one's general learning ability.
Self-study in networking is always effective and underrated by many. By making contacts with those in networking careers, either people in one's local area, or individuals or sites on the Internet, one can quickly acquire a wealth of information ranging from technical details, to advice on writing a resume, to advice on specific hiring companies, schools, and so on.
Best wishes for a successful career in networking, or whatever other field you may choose!
Many view computer networking as one of the best and "hottest" career fields available today. Some claim that a serious shortage of qualified people to fill these networking jobs exists, and these claims may lure some people into the fray hoping for an easy position with a fast-growing company.
Don't be fooled! Debates over the actual extent of any "shortages" aside, networking involves mostly hard work, and competition for the high-quality positions will always be strong. Continue reading to learn more about beginning or expanding a career in networking, and pick up some valuable job-hunting tips that also apply to many other types of technical careers.
Several types of positions exist in networking, each with different average salaries and long-term potential, and one should possess a clear understanding of these. Unfortunately, job titles in networking, and in Information Technology (IT) generally, often lead to confusion among beginners and experienced folks alike. Bland, vague or overly bombastic titles often fail to describe the actual work assignments of a person in this field.
The basic job titles one sees for computer networking and networking-related positions include
- Network Administrator
- Network (Systems) Engineer
- Network (Service) Technician
- Network Programmer/Analyst
- Network/Information Systems Manager
The Network Administrator
In general, network administrators configure and manage LANs and sometimes WANs. The job descriptions for administrators can be detailed and sometimes downright intimidating! Consider the following description that, although fictitious, represents a fairly typical posting:
NETWORK ADMINISTRATOR - HOBO COMPUTING
"Candidate will be responsible for analysis, installation and configuration of company networks. Daily activities include monitoring network performance, troubleshooting problems and maintaining network security. Other activities include assisting customers with operating systems and network adapters, configuring routers, switches, and firewalls, and evaluating third-party tools."
Needless to say, a person early in their career often lacks experience in a majority of these categories. Most employers do not expect candidates to possess in-depth knowledge of all areas listed in the job posting, though, so a person should remain undeterred by the long, sweeping job descriptions they will inevitably encounter.
Comparing Roles and Responsibilities
The job function of a Network Engineer differs little from that of a Network Administrator. Company A may use one title while Company B uses the other to refer to essentially the same position. Some companies even use the two titles interchangeably. Firms making a distinction between the two often stipulate that administrators focus on the day-to-day management of networks, whereas network engineers focus primarily on system upgrades, evaluating vendor products, security testing, and so on.
A Network Technician tends to focus more on the setup, troubleshooting, and repair of specific hardware and software products. Service Technicians in particular often must travel to remote customer sites to perform "field" upgrades and support. Again, though, some firms blur the line between technicians and engineers or administrators.
Network Programmer/Analysts generally write software programs or scripts that aid in network analysis, such as diagnostics or monitoring utilities. They also specialize in evaluating third-party products and integrating new software technologies into an existing network environment or to build a new environment.
Managers supervise the work of adminstrators, engineers, technicians, and/or programmers. Network / Information Systems Managers also focus on longer-range planning and strategy considerations.
Salaries for networking positions depend on many factors such as the hiring organization, local market conditions, a person's experience and skill level, and so on.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
A Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) is a network infrastructure that transmits and receives data with radio signals instead of wires.WLANs are used increasingly in both home and office environments, and public areas such as airports, coffee shops and universities. Innovative ways to utilize WLAN technology are helping people to work and communicate more efficiently.Increased mobility and the absence of cabling and other fixed infrastructure have proven to bebeneficial for many users. Wireless users can use the same applications they use on a wired network. Wireless adapter cards used on laptop and desktop systems support the same protocols as Ethernet adapter cards.
Advantages that people can get by implementing WLAN technology are as below:
Mobility - Productivity increases when people have access to data in any location within the operating range of the WLAN. Management decisions based on real-time information can significantly improve worker efficiency.
Low Implementation Costs and inexpensive solution - WLANs are easy to set up, manage,change and relocate. Networks that frequently change can benefit from WLANs ease of implementation. WLANs can operate in locations where installation of wiring may be impractical. Besides, wireless network devices are also as competitively priced as conventional Ethernet network devices.
Installation and Network Expansion - Installing a WLAN system can be fast and easy and can eliminate the need to pull cable through walls and ceilings. Wireless technology allows the network to go where wires cannot go - even outside the home or office.
Scalability - WLANs can be configured in a variety of ways to meet the needs of specific applications and installations. Configurations are easily changed and range from Peer-to-Peer networks suitable for a small number of users to larger Infrastructure networks to accommodate hundreds or thousands of users, depending on the number of wireless devices deployed.