Converged Networks: Learning to Run the Whole Show

If you're looking for the "Next Big Thing" in certification and the best

future job opportunities, you would do well to follow this age-old

advice: "Follow the money." A significant percentage of Global 2000

companies are taking advantage of technological advancements and

implementing, or planning to implement, converged networks.

A converged network, which integrates voice, data, and video onto a

single network, is vastly more efficient and cost-effective than running

three separate networks. Of course, the old standards (Microsoft, Cisco,

Novell) and vendor-independent CompTIAs will remain timeless and are

usually a safe bet when deciding on a certification path, but let's take

a quick look at where networking is going and what sort of training and

certification you might need to keep pace with it.

Implementing and maintaining a converged network may not be rocket

science, but it's pretty close. It requires a unique combination of

skills that, together, are in short supply. Of course, plenty of people

are certified to run data networks and plenty of people are certified to

run voice networks, but, there aren't that many who can run both at the

same time.

One place to start would be with the Cisco IP Telephony Design

Specialist certification, which specifically addresses technical issues

related to designing voice over data networks. One of the biggest

technical issues of course, is quality of service. Early experiments in

voice over IP suffered from poor quality of service, and that perception

has remained -- although the technology has now improved to the point

where a VoIP call is just as good as a POTS call. The Cisco

certification covers both the Cisco methodology for implementing voice

of data networks, and deploying Quality of Service.

Another place to look is the vendor-neutral Certified in Convergent

Network Technologies (CCNT) program from the Telecommunications Industry

Association (TIA). The exam requires candidates to pass six exams: Basic

telecommunications, Basic data communications, Computer-telephone

integration essentials, Local area networks, Broadband technologies, and

VoIP essentials. The certification is offered through a partnership with

Prosoft Training. You can find out more at

http://www.prosofttraining.com.

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