June 28, 2022

VP of Product Marketing

IT? NT? CT! A New Type of Skill Set

Wait. What?

IT? NT? CT! A New Type of Skill Set

Information and networking technology

Information technology (IT) and networking technology (NT) traditionally have been mutually exclusive. Networking people and IT people did not mix – not in what they did, and not in what they knew.

They were also a part of two separate groups – the technology/engineering group (led by the CTO) and the information group (led by the CIO).

Over the past decade, those two groups have started to grow closer. In some cases, they were joined at the head (led by the CTIO), and in a lot of other cases the border between those groups became blurry.

When it comes to service providers (SPs), NT was always about the infrastructure that enables operators’ services to their customers. That infrastructure was comprised of heavy-duty, proprietary and “deterministic” networking gear, and was required to meet very strict SLAs.

IT, on the other hand, was oriented towards internal “customers” and served the operators’ business processes. IT was built upon, predominantly, generic hardware, and it was all about software and applications.

In the past, the only fields in which those two domains met were those of BSS (business support systems) and OSS (operations support systems). Other than that, each group did its best to be self-sufficient.

Changing landscape

Guess what? Times have changed.

In today’s world, the cloud is becoming the dominant trend in both the IT and NT realms.

For IT, it’s no longer about servers and clients, on-premise and remote workers, installations and upgrades – it’s about workloads. The entire ecosystem of the IT world is moving towards the cloud, freeing IT personnel to focus on applications and processes rather than on hardware infrastructure.

This also led to new methodologies and tools such as DevOps (and CloudOps) and their derivatives such as CI/CD (continuous integration, continuous delivery/development).

The networking domain also did not stand still. But for NT people, moving into the cloud might be a tougher task than for the IT guys. Managing software, workload and cloud instances is far from what they are used to do. Putting beloved hardware behind and focusing on network functions as a software application, or, better yet, as a microservice, does not come naturally for many of us.

However, the business and operational benefits of moving into a disaggregated, cloud-native architecture are stronger than this default sentiment. Organizations are moving their networks to the cloud despite the discomfort of some stakeholders within the organization.

Making the right move

The secret to a successful migration is to leverage the different assets of the organization and to create a new type of expertise/skill set – cloud technology (CT). This takes the best of both worlds – the agility and development methodology of the IT domain, and the SLA-driven and customer-oriented focus of the NT domain.

This means that someone in the highest level of the SP organization must look at a wider scope of tasks and resources. This also means reshaping the organization by reallocating those resources and creating a new organizational structure that will accommodate the changing need of business and operations.

That’s easier said (or written) than done, for sure. But, for those who chose to tackle it, developing CT expertise bears significant fruits on both the organizational and personal levels.

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