Crystal McKee

Crystal McKee

11 Network Administrator

 

Almost every business relies on some level of network to complete daily operations, making opportunities for network administrators particularly plentiful in a wide range of industries. If you are interested in pursuing a career in network administration, here is what you can expect along the way.

What Does a Network Administrator Do?

Most network administrators are tasked with managing the day-to-day operation of a company’s network. This includes planning new solutions, installing the necessary hardware and software, managing upgrades and repairs, ensuring overall system performance, and even handling certain aspects of security. Additionally, many networking professionals interact with other employees who are experiencing difficulties with certain aspects of the system or who need training in related IT areas.

Education and Training

To work as a network administrator, formal education or training is typically required. In some cases, a computer networking program at a community or technical college can be suitable for obtaining and entry-level position in the field, while others find a bachelor’s degree to be a more appropriate option for starting their career. In some cases, a four-year degree focused specifically on networking can be found, making the transition into the working world fairly intuitive. However, a degree in a related area like system administration can also be suitable depending on the specific coursework involved.

 

Like many areas of IT, continuing education may also be necessary to stay abreast of new technologies and other developments. However, some of this can be managed by obtaining and maintaining certifications dedicated to the field.

Networking Certifications

While holding various certifications isn’t necessarily a requirement to become a network administrator, it can certainly help you develop your career. Modern systems involve a wide range of technologies, and obtaining various certifications demonstrates you hold to necessary competencies in each area.

 

In most cases, certifications are offered by specific technology vendors, such the Cisco CCIE or CCNP and Juniper JNCIE-ENT. However, CompTIA also provides one of the most in-demand certifications through their Network+ offering. Often, the CompTIA Network+ is considered an entry-level certification, demonstrating you possess the core competencies required to work in the field, while the Cisco CCIE is one of the most advanced certifications available today.

Important Skills

While technical ability is vital, having a range of soft skills is just as critical if you want to have a successful career as a network administrator. Here are just a few of the additional skills that can help you get ahead:

  • Customer Service
  • Troubleshooting
  • Technical Writing
  • Disaster Planning
  • Stress Management
  • Research and Problem-Solving

Earning Potential

In 2016, the median pay for a network administrator in the United States was just shy of $80,000 per year, making it a potentially lucrative career. Those who reach the top 10 percent of the field can even expect wages well above the six-figure mark at nearly $128,000 annually. Additionally, many of these positions are full-time, meaning they often come with strong benefits packages including items like medical insurance and retirement programs.

 

If you are interested in pursuing or furthering your career as a network administrator, the recruiters at The Armada Group can help you explore your options. Contact us today and see where our services can take you.

 

7 Data Inequality

 

As big data and analytics continue to become integral parts of business operations in a growing number of industries, companies understand that the data they collect can lead to significant advantages. However, many organizations recognize that internal data is only a small segment of the available information, making certain efforts feel incomplete since external data isn’t part of the analysis. However, integrating internal and external data is a complex undertaking, leaving most businesses to favor using their own information when performing complex analysis.

 

But why is it so challenging to overcome data inequality in the workplace? Here are just a few of the reasons that integrating internal and external sources is such a big undertaking.

Financial Cost

At a fundamental level, internal data is essentially free to use; all of the information is already collected and stored, making it ready for use at any time. External data comes with a price tag, including an upfront cost and an ongoing investment. Add to that the fact that the data is typically subject to a range of restrictions regarding its use and the value added by the information may not compensate for the financial burden.

 

To make the matter more complex, not all business intelligence systems are capable of integrating external data. That means many companies would have to purchase in a secondary solution which can be a significant investment as well.

Complexity

Even at the individual business level, internal data can be stored in a number of separate locations. This traditional silo-oriented or containerized approach automatically adds complexity to projects focused on data analytics. Now, add to that the numerous warehouses involved when external data is brought into the equation, and the level of systemic complexity only increases. Multiple systems must connect, even when different structures are in play, to create usable results and this burden can be especially heavy for business intelligence teams, ultimately leading them to favor internal data.

Integration

The majority of business have preferences regarding their software and system solutions. Often, the desire is to access external data through the mechanisms the company already has in place, which isn’t always possible. Even though certain data marketplaces have created APIs designed to make their information accessible across multiple platforms, not all business intelligence solutions or commonly used databases have opened their systems to support these connections. Until these systems become more open to integration, many organizations are going to find using external data is particularly challenging based on their current operating norms.

 

Over time, some of the barriers covered above may be lifted, making data inequality a thing of the past. However, you can start making headway today by bringing on the right business intelligence professionals and data analysts to join your team. If you would like to find the ideal candidates to make bridging the gap between internal and external data a reality, the professionals at The Armada Group can locate top job seekers in the field. Contact us to begin your search today.

 

3 Millennials

 

While certain aspects of project management have remained largely unchanged, Millennial workers are beginning to influence how the duties associated with these positions are managed. Thanks to their increased interest in technology and differing attitudes towards traditional work structures, the project manager of the future will use a varied approach when compared to some of the current norms. To help you see what the future holds, here are some of the ways Millennials are changing the role.

Digital Communication and Collaboration

Millennial workers aren’t fans of the traditional paradigm, shirking meetings in favor of well-rounded technology-based solutions for exchanging data and covering critical information. Applications designed to facilitate communication and collaboration are plentiful, allowing teams to share files, trade messages, and coordinate actions from almost any location at any time. Not only is this a relatively new way to keep project management teams connected, but it also supports the shift towards employing a remote workforce, allowing project managers to access the best and brightest talent regardless of location.

 

The ability to communicate in real-time can also support a stronger team dynamic. Instead of having to reach out to others in the group physically, they can accomplish the same level of communication from their workstation. This means decisions can be made more quickly than when groups have to be gathered for meetings, allowing the team to get more done in less time.

Flexible Scheduling and Worksites

While project management often requires adhering to strict timelines, that doesn’t mean everyone has to stick with a traditional 8 to 5 schedule to get things done. Facilitated by advanced communication and collaboration applications, Millennials enjoy being able to exercise a level of freedom while they accomplish their tasks without ever being fully inaccessible.

 

This approach makes work/life balance a priority but doesn’t mean these teams aren’t willing to put in the necessary hours to stay on target. Instead, they are more inclined to take work home, choosing comfortable off hours to tidy up anything that isn’t accomplished on a traditional schedule. Plus, since their personal lives are easier to manage, they are often more productive when they do focus on the task at hand.

New Perspectives

Since Millennial workers don’t view traditional hierarchies in the same way as other generations, many are more inclined to provide input instead of simply being led forward. This can increase innovation and creativity as more members of the group feel confident expressing their ideas. By leveraging their diverse perspectives, businesses are positioned to find solutions that may otherwise be missed.

 

If you are interested in seeking a project manager for your team or are want to take on a new challenge in a project management role, The Armada Group can locate your ideal fit. Contact us to discuss your needs today and see how our services can help you take the next step.

 

Choose

 

As an IT professional, you may have tried to weigh the benefits between holding a full-time job or working on short-term contracts. While each can be viable options for your career, which is right for you ultimately depends on where your priorities lie. To help you sort through your options, here are some key points to consider about these employment opportunities.

Job Duties

Even if a full-time and contract position function with the same job title, the actual duties that will be assigned can be somewhat difference. Often, contract employees are given the chance to focus on their core skill set, since the positions are typically associated with a particular project or goal. This means you’ll spend less time on tasks outside of those core competencies, making it ideal for those who want to work in specialized positions without any excess.

 

Full-time positions often have duties outside of the core set. For example, software developers may be responsible for projects as well as providing a level of support to end-users and performing certain maintenance activities. This can provide a more well-rounded experience and may appeal to those who like diversity in their daily tasks.

Benefits

Most full-time positions come with a range of standard benefits, including health insurance, paid time off and retirement options. This allows you to coordinate multiple needs through your employer, and can provide a level of security to those who don’t want to manage these requirements on their own.

 

In contrast, many contract positions provided limited, if any, benefits beyond a paycheck. Depending on the length of the contract, you may have some opportunities for paid time off, but companies aren’t required to provide these benefits. Additionally, you’ll likely be responsible for managing your own retirement, healthcare, and even tax withholdings as a contract employee. You may have a chance to explore less expensive options for insurance or have more control over your retirement, but it will require you to be more hands-on than full-time employees generally have to be.

Workplace

Sometimes you don’t know whether a workplace is right for you until you are seated at a desk trying to get your work done. While full-time employees have limited options for leaving, often feeling they have to tolerate less than ideal circumstances for at least a year or so before jumping ship, contractors have a defined end date from the beginning. This means if the environment isn’t a great fit, you already know when you can head out the door.

 

However, if the company offers a great place to work, contractors might not have the option to stay regardless of how well they perform in the position. In some cases, you might be given the chance to sign on full-time, but that isn’t guaranteed. Full-time employees are generally hired with long-term potential in mind, meaning they can enjoy the workplace for as long as they choose.

 

Whether you should choose full-time or contract opportunities depends on what you value. Both approaches to your career have merit, so there is no inherently right or wrong answer. Instead, consider which advantages appeal to you most and whether the drawbacks are tolerable. Then, shape your career in that image. In the end, if your original choice isn’t the right one, you can always choose to change directions.

 

If you are looking for either a contract or full-time opportunity, The Armada Group can help you explore your options. Contact us today and see what is available in your area.

 

Work From Home

 

The idea of working from home appeals to workers in almost every field, with tech professionals leading the way. Having the opportunity to work remotely either full-time or a few days a week is one of the most valued job perks an employer can provide, even beating traditional offerings like health benefits. That means, if you want to attract top talent, giving telecommuting options is a surefire way to get some attention.

 

But what about remote work do tech pros find so appealing? Here are some of the top reasons why your team wants to work from home.

Increased Productivity

Many companies fear telecommuting leads employees to be less productive, but the opposite is actually more likely. Working from home significantly limits interruptions throughout the day and ultimately makes it easier to stay on task.

 

Instead of running between meetings that run long, dealing with co-workers dropping by, or focusing through the distractions caused by other activities in the workplace, remote workers have control over their home environment. This gives them a chance to work more effectively, especially on tasks that require high amounts of concentration and attention to detail.

 

The benefits of increased productivity can be even more notable if your company uses open office designs in the workplace. While 70 percent of employees work in this paradigm, almost no one likes the design. There’s a lack of privacy or sense of personal space, and it is easy to become irritated by extraneous noises coming from all across the floor. In that regard, working from home is an appreciated reprieve from an otherwise stressful environment, letting them focus on their job instead of what is happening around them.

More Comfort

Telecommuting gives employees the ability to be more comfortable within their workspace. Most offices provided limited options when it comes to body positioning, leaving workers in the same seated position for an entire shift.

 

When working from home, people can get up and move whenever they need to without having to worry about distracting their coworkers. They can put their feet up, shift around, change chairs, or pace around the room whenever the mood strikes. It removes the certain expectations regarding how you are expected to physically be while working, allowing them to do what it takes to stay comfortable while getting work done.

No Commute

While your employees might work for eight or more hours a day, their functional workday may start much sooner. Many employees spend an average of 25 minutes each way commuting, an action that is rarely stress-free.

 

If they have the chance to work from home, their commute is completely eliminated. This means they don’t have to start their day by battling traffic, only to end it by doing the same. Your employees also have more time to manage other tasks, as they essentially get almost an hour back that isn’t spent sitting in a car, train, or another form of transportation just to get to work.

 

Almost any tech employee would appreciate the chance to telecommute, and the advantages of the arrangement can lead to mutual benefit. If you are interested in finding new IT professionals to join your team, including by working from home, The Armada Group can help you find the right candidates. Contact us today for more information about our employer services.

 

MySQL

 

Even as rising technologies associated with big data and IoT dominate discussions regarding hard data is managed, MySQL professionals are still critical for many organizations. In many cases, new skill sets are designed to supplement MySQL where it is in use, and aren’t intended to replace the system. With that in mind, pursuing a career as a MySQL DBA can lead to strong job opportunities even as the use of data continues to grow and change. And here’s why.

MySQL is Cost-Effective

Managing expenses is always a priority in business, and MySQL is a solution that meets those goals. The open source solution often features low licensing costs, making it easy for businesses to fit into their IT budgets. Additionally, the cost of ownership is similarly low.

 

But the low cost doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful. It’s high speed and superior reliability makes it a particularly good choice for industries that need to limit downtime. And that means professionals familiar with the system as still very much a hot commodity in today’s market.

It’s Used by Top Companies

MySQL has a prominent role in many top companies. In fact, it is a preferred choice for many businesses, especially those focused on Web 2.0, SaaS, ISV, and Telecommunications. The high amount of reliability is critical for companies operating in these areas, as downtime due to failures, maintenance, administration, or other tasks is practically unacceptable in the eyes of consumers. The system uses master-slave configurations coupled with cluster servers to provide uninterrupted access, making it an ideal selection for businesses that need to remain accessible at all times.

On-Demand Scalability

One of the biggest benefits of MySQL is its high level of flexibility. The solution is highly scalable and can be customized to meet the unique needs of individual businesses. It provides a solid platform for large enterprises who need to integrate various features and functions within their database servers, and can easily be expanded when business needs change.

 

As companies continue to acquire large amounts of data, having a solution that can grow quickly is a boon. And that means skilled professionals are needed to make that happen whenever the need arises.

 

In the end, MySQL is seen as efficient, cost-effective, and reliable, all of which are highly valued by a range or organizations. Professionals with the skills to support MySQL will remain in high demand even as other data-oriented technologies enter the workplace, as few options have the ability to beat MySQL in these key areas.

 

If you are interested in a career as a MySQL DBA or other opportunities in IT, the professional recruiters at The Armada Group can match you to relevant positions in your area. Contact us today to see how MySQL skills can help further your career.

 

Cyber Security Guard

 

With high-profile cyberattacks being a regular part of the news, most companies understand that anyone could be at risk. However, even with that knowledge, many businesses are ill-equipped in areas like intrusion detection and threat response. This means there is a significant lag between when an attack takes place and when it is finally discovered.

 

There are methods that can help you become the kind of cyber security guard a company needs to manage these threats more effectively. To help you become the strongest asset in the area of cyber security, here are key points on which to concentrate.

Gather the Data

To be better prepared to manage new attacks, it is important to understand where current vulnerabilities lie. This involves examining threat vectors and potential points of access within a system. Additionally, you need information about previous attacks, both successful and those that were thwarted, to understand what has worked in the past and what hasn’t. Many attackers use common backdoors to access systems. By understanding which tools and systems have been used in the past, you can attempt to profile potential risks in the future.

 

Often, this information is available within proxy logs and antivirus logs, if not in a larger Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solution. While the majority of the data will need to be pulled away to eliminate any noise, the remaining data can create a list of activities that serve as warning signs for other malicious behavior.

Identify Suspicious Activity

Certain patterns within the data could be a sign of trouble. For example, if a particular network connection shows a recurring pattern of bytes in and bytes out on a regular basis, this could be a sign of suspicious activity. Similarly, odd occurrences within endpoints visiting certain sites could also be cause for concern.

 

If you see a cluster of failed login attempts, this could be a sign of a brute force attack. Additionally, single failed login attempts across multiple accounts could suggest a previously extracted password list is being tested to see if any of the acquired passwords is still valid within the system.

 

Other signs of trouble can be unexpected privilege changes on user accounts, or the use of alternate credentials on a user’s system. While these could be signs of other authorized activity by internal admins, it is important to review them, should an unexpected pattern be observed.

Watch for Malicious Programs

The detection of any password dumping or dropper programs is always cause for concern. In some cases, threats will run a password dumper, have it detected and removed, only to execute another that ultimately goes unseen. Seeing that one was previously detected means care should be taken to determine if others may be in play.

 

Similarly, dropper programs may be detected and removed after something malicious has been left behind. If one is spotted, it is important to examine the infected OS in-depth in case something is still sitting on the machine that has yet to initiate.

Keep Learning

New threats are formed seemingly on a daily basis. That means your best form of defense is to stay up to date on the latest trends, technologies and techniques in play. If you are interested in broadening your experience by finding a new position, The Armada Group can help you explore new opportunities in the cyber security field. Contact us and see what a new job may have to offer your career.

 

Monday, Apr 17 2017

The Future of Chatbots

Chat Bots

 

Chatbots charged into the spotlight on the heels of artificial intelligence. They stood as an innovation within the customer service sector, providing simple interfaces for users to get the information they need without having to interact with a person. While the use of similar systems had been in place for some time, operating based on the abilities of language processing engines, chatbots took it a step further by allowing for additional depth within the conversation.

 

But the complexity of setting up these systems left many programs feeling clunky, and some were even considered practically useless. Additionally, chatbots could be taxing on a user’s system and provided little value when answering questions that could just as easily be looked up through a search engine or asked via an app.

 

News about chatbots has slowed since the later part of 2016, leaving many to wonder whether they would still play a role in today’s ever-evolving tech landscape. With that in mind, here are some challenges chatbots need to overcome to be considered valuable to users both today and tomorrow.

Complexity

From a user perspective, interacting with a chatbot often adds a layer of complexity when seeking answers to questions instead of lowering them. For example, if a user wants to get information about the weather, it is much easier to open a weather app than use a bot, especially when you factor in the learning curve associated with interacting with a chatbot. Even if a user has a more complex question in mind, it is still simpler to input a question into a search engine that use a bot to dig for the information.

 

Accessing specific apps to get to certain information has become the societal norm. And, unless the chatbot has something more to offer, it isn’t a habit that will be easily broken. For example, systems like Amazon’s Echo allow users to interact quickly with simple questions and commands. The interface makes what was once a multistep process a single voice command. Instead of having to open a music app, search for a channel, and select it, you simply tell the system to play your chosen station. If a chatbot can’t eliminate steps between the user and their goals, then the old process will reign.

 

Further, the amount of effort required on the developer side is daunting. Many bot frameworks leave a lot of the design in the hands of various tech specialists. It relies highly on a company’s ability to predict how a user will interact with the service, leaving a significant amount of space for errors through incidental omission.

Accuracy

Much of the appeal of chatbots is from a business perspective. Being able to automate basic customer interactions for common issues would be a high-value development. However, many bots lack the necessary accuracy to ensure these interactions run smoothly, risking customer satisfaction in the process and potentially causing a loss of a customer along the way.

 

When examined for business communications, an issue with accuracy makes the solutions a non-start. While losing a customer on the B2C side is frustrating, losing one during a B2B interaction can be catastrophic. Errors related to bots are simply intolerable at this level, preventing most companies from even considering them as a solution.

 

While chatbots lack a certain level of sophistication, the potential for growth is there. Much of what will make them a success is finding the right problem for which they can be an ideal solution. Over time, as accuracy improves, their use in business may outweigh their potential for customers, especially when customers prioritize speed when asking simple questions.

 

Will 2017 be a big year for bots? Not likely. But the potential is there for those who truly want to solve the issues mentioned above for great developments in the future.

 

If you are interested in learning more about how tech will change in 2017 and what employees should be a priority, The Armada Group has the industry expertise you need to get ahead. Contact us today and see how you can better position your business to excel this year and beyond.

 

Boot Camps

 

IT professionals are often faced with a choice when it comes to skills development and training, and they come in the forms of boot camps and certifications. Both options can provide benefits when it comes to advancing your career, but each will do so in different ways. And, since both paths require significant investments, you want to make sure you choose the best course of action for your career.

 

To help you weigh which choice is best, here is what you need to know about how boot camps and certifications fit into your career goals.

New Career or Career Development

One of the biggest determining factors is whether you are looking to start a new career or develop your current one. Often, boot camps are ideal for those looking to change their field or IT specialty, as they provide a strong foundation and key job skills in a relatively short amount of time. Additionally, they offer significant hands-on experience that lets you put your new knowledge into action quickly.

 

Certifications often support a field in which you are already working. It confirms you possess a specific skill set instead of focusing on the development of new ones. While a person can learn a new skill to achieve a certification, most certifications are focused on testing what you know and not necessarily teaching you something new. You can take courses designed to end in a certification, but a class is not necessarily a prerequisite for becoming certified.

Creation or Support

Many boot camps focus on the skills needed to create something new. They provide information regarding the use of relevant tools and how they are used to build and develop solutions within the target system. Additionally, the skills are often transferable into a variety of environments, making them highly transferable between related specialties. In many cases, boot camps are available for skills like software development and programming, where the creation of something new is part of the core duties associated with working in those positions.

 

In comparison, certifications are often related to specific computing environments. Further, they are often more concerned with supporting what is already in place instead of developing new solutions. These apply most to systems like networking, security, and cloud support. The focus is often on preexisting infrastructure and systems, with emphasis on keeping these operational with skills like troubleshooting, maintenance, and prevention.

Commitment

Typically, a boot camp is a significant commitment that requires your full attention for weeks. Many people would find it challenging, if not impossible, to attend a reputable boot camp while maintaining a full-time position. In contrast, certifications can be obtained while also maintaining traditional employment. While studying is recommended, and classes may be offered, you may be able to complete the work on your own time.

 

Ultimately, choosing which option is right for you is highly dependent on your personal career goals. Continuing education often plays a significant role in any technology field as new developments reach the mainstream on a regular basis. So, even if you choose one of the training opportunities today, it doesn’t mean the other won’t be right for you tomorrow.

 

If you are interested in exploring new positions to help you progress along your career path, The Armada Group has the industry expertise needed to help you explore your options. Contact us to see what new opportunities are available in your target field, and what it takes to land the job today.

 

Resume

 

It wasn’t that long ago that the recommendation to use bullet points on your resume became commonplace. The approach was considered a strong alternative to giant blocks of text, a method that was often more difficult to read and generally unappealing. However, the use of bullet points shifted from helping provide a level of clarity in key sections to the go-to style for almost every portion of the resume.

 

The higher amount of use isn’t a fatal flaw in itself. However, the way bullet points are used can cause problems. To help you understand why you should bypass the bullet point approach in some cases, here is an overview of the trouble they can cause and how to produce a better resume.

Unintelligible Data Dumps

Bullet points began as an exercise in brevity, helping professionals keep things simple and clear. Over time, many began using them for every aspect of their resume. This leads to a series of factoids being listed about your experience without any depth.

 

Often, there is little if any context for these short statements and explanations are essentially nonexistent. Instead, candidates assume hiring managers will fill in the blanks themselves, even though that typically isn’t the case. These resumes don’t produce a clear picture as to why you are an ideal fit for the position and can lead to being passed over instead.

Creating Context

To make bullet points work for you, they need to be combined with greater context. First, make sure to include a summary section near the top of your resume. This highlights key points of interested customized to the position to which you are applying and serves as an introduction. Then, make sure to include explanations on a regular basis. This can include quick overviews of each position before adding bullet points as support or highlight key skill areas and how specific experiences support your knowledge.

 

The idea is to use a combination approach of short paragraphs supported by additional points. This ensures you create a whole picture of how your career unfolded and why the hiring manager should be interested in the bullet points that follow. It also makes your resume more interesting visually as it provides some variation in the structure. When used properly, you can even design the document to drawn the eye from one section to the next, leading them along through the story of your professional life.

Making Adjustments

A resume is a living document; it is always in a growth period and will almost never be completely perfect. As you apply to jobs and schedule interviews, use any feedback that is provided to create a stronger document. Ultimately, a resume is a first impression. You should take every opportunity to ensure it is the best one you can possibly make.

 

If you are interested in a new position in your field, The Armada Group can help you find new options in your area. Contact us to begin exploring the opportunities available today.