Skills shortage costs opportunities

Skills shortage costs opportunities

A SHORTAGE of network security and internet telephony skills in the channel is preventing the industry from addressing all the opportunities available in the market, says Cisco Systems.

The networking vendor says not enough people in the channel have the knowledge to design and implement networks based on its security and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technologies.

Jennifer Rutherford, Cisco New Zealand channel manager, says while the channel is comfortable deploying frontline security systems such as firewalls or antivirus software, few people can deliver Cisco’s vision of a self-defending network, which can identify, prevent and adapt to threats.

“Security must become part of the design of the network,” she says. With VoIP becoming mainstream, those who can sell, design and implement IP telephony offerings are also thin on the ground, says Rutherford.

“The sheer volume of customer demand for the technology is placing a strain on available resources,” she says.

It is becoming more expensive for the channel to find people with the required skills, as they can demand higher salaries, says Rutherford.

Therefore she is encouraging Cisco resellers to partner with each other and share their resources.

“Not everyone in the channel can develop their skills — it is too costly. People should see who they can partner with to share resources,” she says.

Cisco does play matchmaker, but faces the challenge of convincing partners that sometimes they may need to work with traditional competitors, says Rutherford.

The skill shortage is being felt on the other side of the Tasman too, where Kevin Bloch, Cisco Australia’s general manager of strategy and new business, has also recently expressed concerns on the issue.

Bloch says whenever there is a boom in an industry sector, the demand for people skilled and experienced in that particular field rises.

While Cisco is putting more people through certification training, there are still opportunities it is not addressing, says Bloch.

Rutherford agrees the same applies here.

Cisco regards its VoIP and security technologies as its most lucrative offerings, which require more of a solution approach than its traditional networking hardware products.

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