We know that businesses are currently being negatively impacted by IT professional talent shortage (Gartner 9/13/21, Survey Reveals Talent Shortages as Biggest Barrier to Emerging Technologies Adoption) and skillset gaps (Fortune 1/28/22, Tech skill gaps are decimating the global workforce and could put workers-and companies-in crisis).
Making matter even worse is the accepted fact that humans are a leading cause of security breaches and network outages. This can be the result of malicious and negligent activities. These actions can be both intentional and unintentional. Regardless, their consequences on business reputation, financial and legal are exactly the same.
This sounds like tough occupation and no doubt these dynamics are very disruptive to businesses. Here are a few of the struggles that I’ve witnessed while working with companies of all sizes and across many verticals, such as shortage of talent, aging of technical workforce, siloing of technology and the moving to higher level management.
- Shortage of Talent – There is a true shortage of IT professionals. Even when a good recruit joins a network team, the chance that they have the necessary training and experience is low. So, as company attempt to move down the path of the digital transformation, they are discovering that they do not have the staff to execute their initiatives. The limited existing employees command salaries beyond their level of experience and companies shoulder the burden of training them.
- Aging of Technical Workforce – The IT talent that already has enjoyed many years of productive employment may now be reaching the sunset of their careers. These senior folks have successfully navigated job advancements and most likely are in higher managerial roles. Plus, with the tech world constantly changing and evolving, the more mature staff may not be best equipped to keep up with the pace of new technology adoption.
- Siloing of Technology – As companies progress deeper into the digital era, the IT staff gravitates towards technology specialization. That means that the IT department includes audio/visual specialists, security specialists, cloud specialists, datacenter specialists and wireless specialists. The result is that the knowledge of how the end-to-end network systems functions, and how to troubleshoot network outages, gets lost in the shuffle.
- Moving to Higher Level Management – The network industry is moving towards Software Defined Networking (SDN), Machine Learning, Auto-Diagnostics, Auto-Mitigations and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies in an attempt to “simplify” the network, which can be counterproductive. That is, if the IT systems are running properly – all is good. Yet, what happens when something breaks? Do the IT departments really have a technician on staff, at that moment, who has the skills to fix problems with SDN protocols, rules engine algorithms and AI software?
So, who’s going to do the daily moves, adds and changes that are necessary for a business to operate smoothly? Furthermore, all of these factors stymie the adoption rate of new innovations and technologies. These staffing issues impact network operational efficiencies, security and reliability equally causing quantifiable financial losses for businesses.
In light of all these negative IT workforce dynamics, how can Optical LAN help? Clearly there are four areas that OLAN can immediately improve operational efficiencies, like quicker provisioning, easier moves-adds-changes, more focused IT staff and less training.
- Quicker Provisioning – Fundamentally, POL is quicker to provision because of its underlying centralized intelligence and software defined management. Within a PON Element Management Software (EMS), the global profiles provisioning can be completed in 1-click or even zero touch. The bigger benefit of reduced provisioning is ensuring consistent procedures are implement without human error.
- Easier Moves Adds and Changes – Modern networks need to be simple, flexible and scalable to support economical Moves, Adds and Changes (MACs). This can be exacerbated by large buildings and sprawling properties. With a traditional network architecture, adding connectivity ports may require moving or adding a cabinet, adding a new switch and/or running copper cabling all the way back to the main data room (MDF), telecom closet (IDF) or cabinet. This process is extremely time consuming, complex and expensive.
- More Focused IT Personnel – When discussing IT staff reductions, it is important to put this in context of addressing skillset gaps and talent shortage. The main objective of reducing the time and staff needed to operate a network, is that it unleashes your existing top-talent to focus on more critical tasks, like security or Wi-Fi performance. In the government sector, we commonly hear our customers experiencing a 4:1 to 6:1 repurposing of IT staff.
- Less Training (and Recertification) – It’s well documented how traditional network manufacturers require multiple weeklong training every 2 to 3 years to maintain CCNA, CCNP or CCIE credentials. Even a prominent switch vendor CEO admitted that his company makes $15 in operational costs for every $1 in equipment cost. POL operational, provisioning and maintenance (OPM) training class can be completed in 2 ½ days for significantly less cost.
Workplace challenges for IT and Network [personnel will continue to disrupt businesses. The traditional switch manufacturers will continue to throw more technology and complexity at the problem, which only aggravates the IT staff shortage and skillset gaps. The better way to build and operate networks is using an Optical LAN design. OLAN’s passive architecture ultimately simplifies underlying network and directly improves operational efficiencies, security plus reliability – a welcomed relief for IT and Networking professionals.