Top 5 Technical Skills for Networking Pros

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Whether you’re looking for a new job or just want to keep up to date in your current one, there are some technical skills that you can’t be without. Here’s our roundup of the top five technical skills today’s networking pros need.

1. Enterprise Security

It’s not the most glamorous networking role, but the threats out there continue to evolve faster than most companies can keep up. And if there is a security breach, you know which IT team will be first in front of the firing squad.

It can be difficult to implement an effective security model and tedious to keep it current, but it’s essential to protect your business from malicious activity or simple carelessness on the part of employees. Look for ways to optimize your security strategy and implementation. Once your security strategy is in place, you shouldn’t have to work harder, just smarter. Check your own skills in this area and brush up on analytics, automation, system integrations, and current threats.

Take it further: Take a look at our sister website, eSecurity Planet, for the latest trends in enterprise security.

2. Monitoring

There are dozens of different ways that you can monitor your network. No one can expect to be an expert in everything. What tools and techniques does your company use? Do you really feel confident analyzing the logs? More importantly, do you know what to do if you spot an error or something goes wrong? Checking log files can become routine and seem less than deserving of your full attention, especially if nothing much happens. But on the day that you do notice something fishy, make sure you know what should happen next and who else needs to be involved to help diagnose and resolve the problem.

Take it further: Gartner recently announced a new Magic Quadrant for network performance monitoring. Watch out for further developments and the final research report next year.

3. Virtualization

Isn’t everything virtual now? Well, no. Although we hear a lot about virtualization, many companies have a long way to go before they maximize the savings that virtualization can bring. What is your company’s approach to server and network virtualization, and how can you influence this? Given the requirement on companies to cut costs and reduce carbon emissions through lower utility bills, being the go-to person on the team for virtualization solutions can prove a big career boost.

Take it further: Read our guide to boosting your communication and teamwork skills, so that you can better communicate the message about virtualization’s benefits.

4. Cloud management

If you work for a top secret government agency with servers in concrete bunkers, you probably won’t have much need for cloud services. But many companies are embracing public and private cloud solutions. The network requirements for this type of infrastructure differ from the traditional approach, so make sure that you’re clued into how working in the cloud affects your workforce. As employees adopt cloud solutions and their expectations change, you’ll have to make sure that your network can meet their new needs.

Take it further: Make sure your enterprise is secure in the cloud with this primer on cloud security for IT and network security administrators.

5. Access control

Access control is a networking fundamental. You have to control who’s on your network and what they can access, and you need to know how they got there. But with the Bring Your Own Device trend showing no signs of slowing down, your access control requirements just got a lot more complicated. You should have a strategy for letting people access corporate data on their own devices, and clear policies about what is and is not appropriate. You should also consider putting group policies in place that allow you to wipe corporate information from their personal devices remotely, for example if they leave the company.

Unfortunately, many employees don’t understand why they can’t get all their work files on their personal iPads, and no one likes carrying around a work tablet and a personal tablet at the same time. On top of that, we all have to remember more passwords, so single sign on and biometrics are becoming attractive ways to access the network. Access control methods are getting smarter. Networking pros should keep up with the latest trends and make sure that the existing policies reflect the way that business users want to work while balancing security requirements.

Take it further: Read the latest analysis on the state of the network access control market from Frost & Sullivan to find out what’s hot and what’s emerging as a new trend.

The technical skills that networking professionals need continue to evolve. Even if your company isn’t on the cutting edge of technology, there are still things you can do to develop your skills. However, it’s hard to keep up with industry press and the latest trends, let alone find time to stay current on security analytics or access control policies. But if you want to stay relevant and a valuable asset to the wider IT team, you need to make sure that your technical skills reflect the changing business environment and evolving trends. Where do you need to brush up your skills?

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