It may not be romantic or even idyllic, but IT infrastructure knowledge is an essential ingredient for IT expertise. Whether you specialize in writing programs or tuning databases, it helps to understand the basic building blocks of IT infrastructure that bring those programs to their users or that permit databases to serve customers around the globe. A good understanding of networking in all its many manifestations – local and wide area, edge and core, and so forth – is essential in all walks of IT. The same is true for a basic understanding of cloud computing, virtualization, hypervisors and containers, operating systems, applications, monitoring and management, and so forth.
And remember: all this is important because each of our specialties and areas of interest plugs into infrastructure as soon as it leaves our local environs and control. The more we know about how the carrier side of that infrastructure works, the better we can do our jobs in providing content, inputs, services and more to their consumers.
Where Infrastructure Knowledge Comes From
To some extent, IT pros pick up a fair amount of infrastructure knowledge by osmosis. Many gain the building blocks in school or through other forms of training. Those who study computer science or some related discipline, will undoubtedly obtain a basic working understanding of computational logic, programming languages, numerical analysis, algorithms, databases and perhaps even some statistics and analytics as well.
Those who learn on the job can’t help but pick up certain elements of infrastructure knowledge day to day as well. This is particularly true for cloud computing, which touches nearly all aspects of computing nowadays, as well as networking (particularly as it relates to the internet and to accessing data and applications locally and remotely).
Because a technical skillset and IT knowledge base typically turns over every 5 to 10 years, most of what those who’ve been in the workforce for that long (or longer, like yours truly) know has been learned as needed to get the job done.
Basic IT competency demands that IT pros dig into and learn what they can across a wide range of topics. Online training through Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is a relatively new, but good, way for IT pros to bring themselves up to speed on all kinds of technical topics, including those related to IT infrastructure.
Back to Basics with IT Certifications
There’s also no shame in going back to basics to see how fields have changed and advanced since we first got to know them. To that end, studying for and getting core IT certifications, such as CompTIA Network+, can shed significant light on those topics, along with the tools and technologies that make related infrastructure elements work.
In investigating, finding good resources and learning about underlying IT infrastructure elements, you’ll add surprising value to your abilities, skills and knowledge – and ultimately, to your career along the way. Part of adopting a culture of constant learning is to expand one’s knowledge and horizons outside of one’s comfort zone, as well as digging ever more deeply into those topics, tools and technologies that most directly engage our interest.
In the end, IT infrastructure ties the various areas and capabilities of IT together. The more you know about the underlying foundation, the better you’ll be able to practice your specialties. Give it a try! You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain in the process.
Grow in your IT career with the CompTIA Infrastructure Career Pathway.