IT network engineer in server roomAn IT network engineer traditionally manages a company’s internal and external networking capabilities. Depending on the size of the enterprise this can include anything from a few computers and phone lines, to a global network running on its own server farm. However, with outsourcing on the rise, there is a good chance the role of the IT networking engineer in your enterprise is changing. Many of the tasks traditionally performed by in-house IT are now handled by managed network providers, i.e., vendors you pay to host your network.

Thus, when you reach out to an IT network consulting firm for support, there are several things to keep in mind beyond the requisite bachelors or masters educational requirements.

Do a Needs Assessment

First, figure out what your enterprise needs the new engineer to do. Below is a list of common questions you will need the answers to before you begin engaging an IT network consulting firm.

  • Will my physical network be managed in-house?
  • Do I need my engineer to manage telecommunications and computer networks?
  • What volume of traffic do I see on my network?
  • How much downtime am I willing to tolerate?
  • What type of technology is my network running on and how old is it?
  • What types of networking issues have I had in the past?

In-House Networks

Second, if your enterprise manages its own network you are likely going to need someone who is familiar with LAN, WAN, and VPN configuration. But during the selection process don’t stop there. If you use Cisco products, you likely want someone who has worked with Cisco in the past. Each solution has its own nuances and experience goes a long way. The number of years someone has been practicing is important too; but picking a cut-off depends on what your needs are. A well seasoned IT network consulting partner will generally have upwards of 7 years experience; but, if your needs are limited you can probably get by with less.

Outsourced Networks

Next, if you have are planning to make the transition to a managed network provider, don’t be fooled into thinking that the IT network consulting role was transitioned too. To start, these services generally move the physical hardware out of your shop, but not software maintenance. For example, many modern shops are moving over to unified communications (UC). UC platforms enable you to integrate your real time communication systems — such as telephony, instant messaging, SMS, email, etc. — into one user interface. These communication mashups require ingenuity to implement and maintain. Thus, IT networking consulting partners have taken on the role of managing UC solutions.

Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of mobile. Mobile networking is taking over business communication; which means your network will be inundated with a new diverse set of devices. What makes this complicated for you is that these devices are always connected. Therefore, the IT network consulting partner’s role is shifting to encompass the scope of mobile as well.