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Moving from help desk to network development

I am currently looking to find myself a network training course. I am an administrator for a market research which is currently running Novell 5.1 small business edition on a LAN, and we also have dial up Internet access and emails. Do you know of any good networking courses that I could sign up for... to get away from the help desk, and get into network development?
Your e-mail indicates an interest in network development, without explaining what you mean by that term. In my experience, this could mean any of several things, 2 of which are most likely (and will be what I cover here). Forgive me if my "educated guess" is incorrect--if you want to clarify, I'll be happy to respond in a more targeted fashion.

1. Network service or application development
This is the software side of the equation, and will lead you into XML and programming languages. Everybody from IBM (WebSphere and XML) to Sun (Java and XML) to Microsoft (.NET and XML) is jumping on this bandwagon. To get started, some training in object-oriented programming concepts, tools, and techniques will be needed. A bachelor's in computer science would be the most straightforward way to go about this, but if you don't have that kind of time or budget you can find focused classes specifically on such topics. Next, it's time to choose and learn a suitable programming language (the Computer Science program will also address this matter, BTW): today, that means Java if you choose to stay outside the Microsoft "sphere of influence" or C# (pronounced C-sharp) if you want to go the Microsoft .NET route. After that, it's time to learn some set of application programming interfaces (APIs) and services. This is when you'd decide to specialize in WebSphere, Sun/Java tools, or the Microsoft .NET framework. Expect to spend at least 2-3 years to get completely up to speed in this world.

2. Network design, implementation/installation, and management Depending on whether you want to build or manage networks, you may have to focus more on hardware and installation issues (build) or on general software and hardware deployment and management issues (manage). I recommend starting with the CompTIA Network+ certification, upgrading your skills for NetWare 6.0 or for Windows 2000/.NET Server, and then considering the various Cisco certifications (CCNA, CCNP, and ultimately CCIE). Expect to spend 2-3 years up until you're ready to tackle the CCIE and another 2-3 years to attain that coveted and prestigious credential.
This was last published in March 2002

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