What does a computer network architect do?
A computer network architect designs all kinds of data communication networks – from small ones (e.g., LANs) to extensive networks connecting whole areas (e.g., WANs). Network architects are greatly sought out and the job position is among the highest paid ones. The professionals must have extensive knowledge not only of engineering-related matters, but also of their company’s business plan (e.g., one company might need an intranet; another one a LAN, etc.).
For a best home, we require best-experienced architect for its exterior & interior beautification, similarly we need best computer network architects who can simplify and increase the network efficiency, which comes with an experience. You wouldn’t be an engineer if you didn’t love networking, nonetheless are you looking to make a career move? Discover how to become a freelance network architect on FE portal. Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets. These networks range from small connections between two offices to next generation networking capabilities such as a cloud infrastructure that serves multiple customers. Employment of computer network architects is projected to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for computer network architects will increase as firms continue to expand their information technology (IT) networks.
What is network architecture?
Network architecture is the layout of the network. A network consists of transmission equipment, communication protocols, software, and infrastructure. Network architects make sure that connectivity between the components is uninterrupted.
The duties of a network architect cannot be dissected to the tiniest detail for one simple reason: the market changes at all times. I.e., developments in cloud computing now inevitably push the market towards a completely new approach in network architecture.
Duties of a computer architect
Computer network architects typically work with chief technology officers. Together they determine the network types that best suit company’s needs. Once agreed, they proceed to planning and developing these networks. Network maintenance goes without saying.
Moreover, network architects spend considerable time predicting networking trends of the future. This is done in various ways, e.g., by analyzing current data traffic and estimating its growth. To be able to meet all future needs, network architects must keep up to date with latest developments in the field, including hardware and software technologies. Last but not least, it is the job of a network architect to maintain network security.
At a glance, these are some of the most common network architects’ duties:
- Creating layouts for data communication networks;
- Keeping security in mind when designing networks;
- Upgrading hardware (routers) and software (drivers) to attain best network performance;
- Presenting designs to management.
Sometimes, network architects may be required to work closely with computer hardware engineers. The engineers help build the networks designed by the architect.
Industries employing computer architects
It would not be an exaggeration to say that computer architects are needed in all companies that employ more than two people. To illustrate that fact: computer network architects hold ca. 146,200 jobs in the U.S.A.
The industries employing the great majority of them are, as follows:
- Computer systems design services (26%)
- Finance and insurance (11%)
- Wired telecommunications carriers (9%)
- Management of companies (7%).
- Government institutions (6%).
Becoming a network architect
One may become a network architect by achieving various degrees and certifications. Most professionals have a Bachelor’s degree in an IT-related field. Senior architects have a MBA, additional certificates, and years of work experience behind them (from 5 onwards).
As for the fields of study, it is up to one’s preferences. The usual degrees include engineering, information systems, and computer science. Since a network architect is expected to work with varied networks and technologies, additional certification is also recommended.
When it comes to certificates, the absolute leaders in the field are Cisco and Microsoft. The CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) credential is recognized by all companies. To such an extent, in fact, that the achievement is considered a must-have for any serious network engineer. The downside is that it is quite expensive. The upside – that your company might be willing to finance it. It is common practice in large companies to provide further education for its employees; and a Cisco engineer is always a welcome addition to any work environment.
The MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate) is another widely recognized certificate. Certificate holders design, implement, and administer Microsoft server products. MTA holders can work as Windows systems administrators, network administrators, system engineers, security analysts, technical consultants, and technical support.
Generally speaking, computer network architects are expected to have 5 to 10 years of relevant work experience in the IT industry. Usually, network architects start as system administrators, database administrators, and computer systems analysts, but this is not set in stone.
Given that any IT-related field of study is sufficient to propel one towards the career of a network architect, when it comes down to it, it is all about personal preferences. Specializations come in all shapes and sizes, and we don’t mean only certificates.
As stated above, many companies make sure to provide further education for their employees. You may expect to attend anything from workshops to training’s. As the demand is tricky to predict- due to the market changing at a rapid pace, keeping up with new trends is only natural. I.e., at the moment, cloud computing is all the rage, so many businesses invest their labors in that direction, certifying their employees in the process.
Some network architects choose to further their career. With age comes wisdom, as the saying goes, and so does experience. After accumulating years of practice in the field, a skilled network architect may easily become a manager. Both information systems managers and computer managers in general stem from the field.
Other positions also come to mind, e.g. control systems staff engineer. These professionals are in charge of overseeing critical infrastructure. The position portends high levels of responsibility and is usually paired with technical assistance and support across the board. Control systems staff engineers are called upon when any urgent situation arises.
An experienced network architect may also choose to become a maintenance planner. As the title implies, maintenance planners keep in touch with clients, oversee project progress, and see to all tasks being executed within the projected time frame.
Computer network architect: the calling of the future
There is so much more to being a computer network architect than only network management. A unique mindset is what sets these individuals apart from their colleagues. A skilled professional in the field must possess exquisite analytical skills, spot-on leadership-, interpersonal-, and organizational skills, and be detail oriented. Namely, computer network architects are often required to coordinate efforts of large teams who jointly make sure that all kinds of communication networks operate properly.