Voice and data convergence have become more than network administration buzzwords. As more enterprises update their telephony systems by implementing Voice over IP (VoIP) systems, network administrators are being asked to handle the layering of voice onto the data network and to expand their skills beyond their data-only training, often illuminating a sizable skills gap.
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"Our industry must develop a workforce capable of helping customers maximize the benefits and opportunities made possible by the delivery of data, voice and multimedia over the same network," said John Venator, president and chief executive officer, CompTIA.
Leading the call from a number of large enterprises and vendors to have a standard certification, CompTIA recently introduced its "Convergence+ Certification," which recognizes individuals who are qualified to monitor a network that is either in the process of converging or already converged, offering enterprises a basis on which to evaluate the capabilities of potential administrators.
"CompTIA Convergence+ was developed at the urging of the convergence industry," Venator said. "This certification fills a void and a need for an industry-accepted credential that validates foundation-level skills for IT and communications professionals working with these emerging technologies."
Designed specifically to assist information technology, communications and telephony professionals who want to broaden their skill level beyond previous training, the certificate program qualifies them to support and maintain newly converged voice and data networks.
In particular, it validates professionals' knowledge and skill in the area of communications -- including data, voice, video and broadcast multimedia technologies, which are increasingly combined in a single IP-based delivery system. Additional topics that concern a converged voice and data network, such as troubleshooting and security, are also covered by the program.
Using research generated in-house and from other industry sources, CompTIA found that a number of small and midsized businesses (SMBs) intend either to deploy a new telephony solution or make major upgrades to an existing system in the next 12 months -- which suggests that the need for qualified convergence professionals will only grow.
"The industry needs experts who understand equally both sides of the converged system of voice and data," said Neill Hopkins, vice president of CompTIA's Skills Development. "Nothing currently exists that validates the knowledge of these professionals -- there are certifications for data networking professionals and certifications for voice professionals but not for combined systems."