Why Companies Need Networking Professionals

By Peter H. Gregory, Bill Hughes

The most basic reason for an organization to have a computer network and thus networking professionals, is so that employees can collaborate; access relevant information stored on other computers, both local and remote; and engage with customers. The ideal network is so reliable that users can ignore it.

Networking professionals get a lot of unwelcome attention the minute things do not function. The following are some reasons why networking professionals are needed:

  • Companies grow. A company should have resources in place for new employees so that they can be productive fast. These resources may include a physical network connection, wireless network access and appropriate access to the IT system and various applications needed to perform the tasks assigned to the new user.

  • Companies shrink. Companies fire or lay off employees. The company must freeze, or disable, the accounts of these employees to protect information assets of the company. Often, the task of disabling access must be done without deleting the user files or work product so the access is only disabled.

    Some salespeople feel a close tie with their customers, some doctors, with their patients, and some lawyers, with their clients. However, when they are let go, the law is clear that the employer owns the records associated with the customer or patient or client. State laws vary, but it is usually considered intellectual property theft for a former employee to take customer records.

  • Employees move. An employer moves the office location of each employee on average once a year. A company that relies on wireless LAN connections may have less physical rewiring to do, but many companies still prefer good old wired connections.

  • WANs, in particular, are flaky. The moment you want to connect outside your property line, you rely on someone else’s network (unless you happen to be employed by a telecommunications carrier). Backhoes rip up cables, backup generators fail, lightning strikes, and more. This, in turn, can cause remote offices or data centers to go offline. You may have service level guarantees from these suppliers, but that is cold comfort when the network is down during your peak revenue day.

  • The security situation is evolving rapidly. Information security and networking are intimately related, so security solutions require close collaboration between the two.

  • New apps are added. IT regularly adds new and updated applications. Many of these have implications for networking.

  • Networking technology standards evolve. Networking is high-tech after all. New equipment and services are coming to the market all the time.

  • Network elements needs to be watched. Some routine tasks can be automated, such as backups and alarms. But ultimately, a human must make sure that everything is operating within normal limits and decide what to do when things go sideways.

  • End-users are impatient. Individuals and department heads dislike waiting for the IT department to support their device or new application. They figure out a way to use their insecure personal device to connect to the corporate network or find an application that is available in the cloud. IT ends up either supporting their stopgap measure or gets roped into helping them with migration from the unofficial solution.

    The current acronym for users attaching to the network with their own computing resources is BYOD, or bring your own device. The definition is more commonly defined among networking professionals as bring your own disaster.