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What to archive by being a certified Network Engineer?

Tunji Paul

15 March 2015

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Network engineers, also known as network administrators, install and maintain the computer systems used by companies and organisations. If you're interested in computers, good at solving problems and like to keep up to date with developments in technology, this could be a great career for you. In this job you'll need strong IT skills. You'll also need good communication skills, with the ability to explain complex technical things in a clear way. You can get into this work through a computing apprenticeship, or by taking a course at college or university. You might also get into this career if you already have experience of working in computer maintenance.

PROBLEM SELECTING COURSE

There are so many IT certifications in the industry today that it can be difficult to understand which ones you should spend your time and money on. If you have a certification, you know how much effort they demand, so it’s important you choose which ones to pursue wisely. Are you aiming to be a specialist and just focus on one specific technology’s certification track? Or, do you pick the generalist path and go for three or four different vendor certifications? Both paths can make for a lucrative career, but I want to point out what I believe is the new certification path: “The Stack.”

No, it’s not just a bunch of certificates piled up on your desk or littering your walls; it’s much more than that. Taking “The Stack” certification path means you approach your certifications the way a company approaches the technologies in their racks and how they interact with each other. Imagine we’re in a datacenter right now and staring down a row of racks filled with equipment. If you opened one of those racks and looked inside, what kinds of hardware would you see? In a typical rack, you might see your top of rack switches and maybe a firewall or two. Underneath that, you might find a load balancer or some type of WAN device. Moving on down the rack you would find servers, either blades in a chassis or rack mount servers, affectionately called “pizza box” servers. Even further down the rack, you’ll most likely find some type of shared storage, either a SAN or NAS piece of hardware. At the bottom, you might find some PDUs, unless of course the PDUs are vertical and on the side of the rack. In about 90 percent of racks in the world today, you would find this type of technology stack. Of course, there are some datacenters with racks and racks full of SAN equipment, but for the sake of this article, let’s focus on the rack I described. Just as the technologies in this rack work together to create a functional infrastructure, obtaining the certifications pertinent to those technologies will create functional knowledge of how they interact.

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