The dotcom implosion coupled with the brutal beating IT has suffered in the economic slump may have left many administrators and managers happily clinging to a job in an entrenched systems, networking or security sector.
But for those eager to advance their career by identifying and landing a plump position in an emerging technology "hotspot" before it gets to be old school, there are some cool technologies likely to be bubbling to the surface in the next 12 to 18 months.
Among the hotspots is federated identity management, an outgrowth of the identity management movement geared toward authorizing and monitoring user access to internal company systems. The potential for Web services to allow customers, suppliers and other outside users access internal applications and systems is driving this need for federated digital identity management systems, said Andrew Braunberg, senior information security analyst with IT research firm Current Analysis.
"I've got an authentication infrastructure in place internally…how do I mediate that authentication across organizational boundaries…federating that identity into a larger set of users?" Braunberg said. "You need a level of trust, but you need that provisioning too."
Many analysts agree that enterprise security management systems soon will emerge to replace traditional intrusion detection systems. This technology is designed to allow networking and systems administrators make sense and prioritize which events noted by perimeter protection devices are the most important. Today, these administrators can be overwhelmed by too many events from these devices to process them all effectively.
Event correlation security management systems are designed to provide a raw technical perspective by linking multiple data sets -- such as firewall and intrusion detection logs, said John Frazzini, vice president of intelligence operations at iDEFENSE, a global security intelligence company that monitors various information security threats. Or, enterprises can tap a knowledge management approach with a system that integrates policy compliance and incident response to raw data to offer top-tier security and infrastructure managers more of a comprehensive, high-level view, Frazzini added.
For systems and network administrators, one of the peskiest technical issues to manage can be applying new patches for system vulnerabilities. A hot new technology called automated vulnerability remediation is designed to answer the clamoring of enterprises for an easier way to handle patching, according to Frazzini.
The technology does not merely provide automated patch management, but instead leverages artificial intelligence to deploy workarounds in lieu of patches to help companies that do not have time to deploy patches over their increasingly complex networks when the time from a vulnerability being exposed to the time it is exploited is drastically shrinking.
Tapping the hotspots:
Raymond Wah, an IT project manager with San Jose-based energy concern Calpine and director of IT executive recruiter Netshare's IT networking forum, provides administrators and managers the following tips to identify hotspots:
- Research Web sites of cutting edge technology research universities like MIT and the University of California at Berkley to identify next-generation hot technologies
- Join a standards committee
- Research the new IT companies that mutual funds are adding to their investment mix
- Tap into the research that IT research firms like Gartner and Forrester provide on emerging technologies
- Join a networking users group
Having identified an emerging technology area, administrators and managers need to locate early adopter user companies, said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of staffing firm Robert Half Technology. Joining a local networking or security users group can be useful in tracking down early adopters because these groups often feature presentations from vendors who describe early adopters, she added. Volunteering at an early adopter company can provide hands-on experience in hotspots, Lee said.
Part of the process of successfully landing work in a hotspot is an art form -- combining a logical extension of existing skills with the luck to be at a company who may take a liking to a new technology, according to Jon Reed, managing editor of SAP Tips and a regular contributor to TechTarget's SearchSAP.com.
However, professionals do need to identify the certification requirements that may be associated with new technology spaces, he said. They also need to identify the geographical hotspots both in the US and abroad when targeting hot skills. While it's been a long time since Silicon Valley called the shots, the IT markets in the Northeast and the South have been buoyed by industrial companies and the pharmaceutical and defense sectors, Reed added. However, the most important point is for job seekers aiming to tap a hot market not limit themselves geographically, according to Reed.
"If you're really rate-oriented, you need to be prepared to move," he said. "Exchange rates can create disparities for Americans abroad, [and] I don't see that many people chasing rates internationally."
Finally, after identifying a hotspot, it is crucial for IT administrators and managers to educate themselves in traditional product marketing skills so they can bridge the often gaping disconnect between IT departments and executives to sell a new technology to an employer based on its business merits, said Mauel Barbero, Bearing Point managing director.
"There's always going to be new technology rising," he said. "When they are emerging, it can be dangerous to try to become a specialist because very often those technologies don't pan out, and you have invested in things that have become obsolete. In the meantime, the things that are constant are those business skills."