The Information Technology team’s job is never done – it just keeps getting bigger. This blog is about the challenges in finding suitable staff and skills, and some options addressing those challenges.
IT once consisted of combined networking and security, with some servers, but now networking is a lot more complex. There are separate security policy, platform, and SecOps teams, unified communications, servers, virtualization, storage, etc. Not to mention WLAN, hyperconvergence, cloud, fog computing, and IOT, which all too often are without a big enough budget.
So, you’re trying to run your area of the business, manage a team, lower costs, while covering those new technical responsibilities in addition to providing deeper and ever more complex support for the existing responsibilities.
Meanwhile, skilled and experienced people are few and far between. Economics 101 says that limited supply translates into higher costs, compensation in this case.
Here are the challenges NetCraftsmen sees our customers dealing with:
Finding good candidates
Successfully interviewing them to obtain the skills your organization needs, while weeding out those lacking the skills needed
Staff compensation costs
Too much technology to know, too few heads on staff to jam it all into
Too many skilled areas covered by only one staff member, e.g. the one ACI or ISE or Cisco UC guru on staff – if they quit or get hit by a truck, that’s a Big Problem.
This is the growing Talent Gap, so we’ll carefully avoid the over-worked “Minding the Gap” meme.
What can you do about the Talent Gap? How can NetCraftsmen help?
This is a company blog page, so you did expect it to be selling something!
There are alternatives to facing the challenges above. To name a few:
Hire less skilled or less experienced staff to reduce costs.
Risks: Mediocre or poor results, fragile network, unnecessary costs, etc.
Solution: Back your staff up with expert design and planning services from NetCraftsmen. NetCraftsmen has helped some of our longer-term customers find and interview staff. We’ve identified or vetted a number of solidly skilled persons who have become great long-term employees. Plus, we have a hiring pipeline and solid skills evaluation interviewing process to help you choose the best of the best.
Leverage contractors for implementation services.
Risks: An outsider doesn’t really take ownership of the solution (design, build, and operation). You have to provide high-quality design and planning, anticipating the details and potential problems. Poor as-built documentation – loss of domain knowledge.
Solution: NetCraftsmen does design, documentation, and implementation. We can also review someone else’s design or documentation quality. Our assessments identify weak points in an existing design or implementation.
Use outside contractors or consultants for specific tasks.
Risks: Cost, contractual lead time, scheduling your work in around their other work. Not to mention, just finding outside people with good skills that meet your expectations.
Solution: A flexible tech staffing agreement with NetCraftsmen. For example, you can sign a long-term Managed Services agreement, getting specified skilled areas and skill levels for a period of time. This might consist of something like 2 days per week of network support, and 1 day per week of unified communications support, all of which is backed up by CCIE-level expertise!
Automation for large organizations (by all means, use or develop automation tools to make staff more efficient).
Risks: Learning curve and maintenance of the tools.
Solution: NetCraftsmen staff have domain knowledge, plus scripting skills and experience. We can help point your staff to tools, jump-start efforts, advise on right-sized automation projects, etc.
Automation for smaller shops (consider canned automation products for better ROI, e.g. policy driven tools such as Meraki, SD-WAN, etc. Leverage vendor “magic” – canned tools that do it all).
Risks: When automation breaks, you must rely on the vendor. Do they have adequate support capabilities, and will they prioritize solving your problem? Cloud-managed automation does break when you lose connectivity to the cloud.
Solution: NetCraftsmen may be able to suggest simple alternatives leaving you with more control.
Automation at any size may entail migration, to a standardized modular “cookie cutter” design, or to the equipment the automation supports.
Solution: NetCraftsmen plans and implements migrations.
Use managed services, e.g. externally managed call servers rather than doing it in-house.
Extreme Case: Drop the corporate phone system and just use cell phones.
Risks: Migration, availability and quality of support, lack of features and functionality, etc.
Solution: NetCraftsmen can provide support in the form of managed services, leveraging your in-house installed Unified Communications equipment, SecOps, Network, VMware and hyper-converged equipment support, etc.
Network and other management services (see the technology list above), and outage / emergency support is another area you might want to out-source.
If your network management tools aren’t great or aren’t being kept up, have someone else do that. Yes, NetCraftsmen does that.
NetCraftsmen has many talented engineers, providing another way for you to Get Talent! Not only do we offer consulting, but we also offer managed services to address the above challenges.
Here are some of the attractions for our solutions:
Less time and more expertise. You could either pay and have someone who knows exactly what they’re doing two days per week, or someone who sort of knows what they’re doing five days. Having someone with the precise expertise and skills provide two days a week of UC support makes sense compared to expecting your network or server guys to also occasionally cover UC and other tech areas (and likely not so well).
Timely and reliable support. When a transformer blew at a customer site, NetCraftsmen quickly supplied a team that spent the weekend getting the customer back up and running. When there’s a problem, NetCraftsmen has a deep pool of expertise that can be brought to bear and solve the problem.
Dedication to your success. NetCraftsmen is invested in not only your performance, but your company’s success. As we like to say, “Rest Assured®, we’ve got your back.” We treat your network as if it were ours.
Comments are welcome, both in agreement or constructive disagreement about the above. I enjoy hearing from readers and carrying on deeper discussion via comments. Thanks in advance!
Did you know that NetCraftsmen does network /datacenter / security / collaboration design / design review? Or that we have deep UC&C experts on staff, including @ucguerilla? For more information, contact us at email@example.com.
A principal consultant with broad knowledge and experience in high-end routing and network design, as well as data centers, Pete has provided design advice and done assessments of a wide variety of networks. CCIE #1773, CCDP, CCSI (#94014)