What is Information Technology (IT)?
As of today, most of the people see IT as something very simple and very cheap to run application, write letter, play games, surf over the Internet and print documents. IT is now present everywhere in our life and is really common for everybody. Young people do not understand how we worked in the past, because it was already existing when they were born.
In my case, I discovered computers when I was 10-12 years old and was really attracted by new technologies. I was still at school when I followed night class at the University with my father. I started with DOS courses and also learnt to develop applications in Basic and Pascal. When it was time to choose a profession, there was still nothing existing to learn IT... This is why I first became an electronician and decided to be specialized in microprocessors programming. Real IT courses started only few years later.
When talking about IT, you need to make the difference between personal and professional usage. A lot of people are thinking that IT is very easy to implement and does not cost a lot, because they have all they want at home. People need to understand that, for their private usage, they can go to any store and buy different equipments (computer, printer, Wifi access point, 1 TB disk drive...) and implement it easily, but they do not have all the complexity and security that you have for a professional usage.
Security is very important and is not limited to prevent access to your computer. To have a better understanding about IT security, I would prefer to talk about Data Security. When you want to protect your data, you want to be sure nobody can access it (network security, computer security, firewall), it can not be corrupted (antivirus, access limitation) and you cannot lose it (high availability storage, backups).
By explaining this, we can understand better why IT is more complex and expensive in a professional environment. You can not go to the first store you see on the street, buy computers, access points, printers and use them as plug-and-play devices. Having high availability storage and backups means that you are duplicating your data.
This is sometimes really hard to explain this to end user, but this is something they need to understand. In my previous job, I had some users coming to me and asking me to increase their quota limit. As they have 1TB disk drives at home, they asked me to get 1TB dis space for their e-mail + 1TB disk space for their personal network drive + enough space for their department drive + additional space for their application data... They first did not see why it was not feasible, but it made more sense when I explained to them that we need to duplicate these data and we cannot grant 10TB per user when we have over 2'500 users (for Europe only).
What are the possibilities to work in IT?
I would say that we have two big families of IT people:
- IT Infrastructure: This represents all the core services provided to end-users, like computers, printers, servers, network, security, phone systems...
- IT Business Applications: This represents all the applications that are provided to end-users, like applications installed on computers or published on a website...
During my professional experience, I started in IT Infrastructure, before asking to move to IT Business Applications. But I realized very fast that I was more interested in IT Infrastructure than developing applications, this is where I switched back to Infrastructure and started to improve my knowledge and obtain technical certifications.
In my current position, I am located somewhere in the middle of IT Infrastructure and IT Business Application. I currently have different roles within my organization:
- Understand Business needs to find and design new solutions that answer their requirements. New solutions are always including infrastructure and software components.
- Understand IT Business Applications needs to help them implementing their solutions. These people often do not see or understand what is needed for the business in order to run their applications.
- Define IT Infrastructure standards for the Retail Stores.
This position is really interesting, because I need to understand both parts (IT Infrastructure & IT Business Application), but I also have direct contacts with the business. This is really interesting to understand their needs and see what they are doing, and not only focus on the equipments you are responsible. I personally like visiting a store or a manufacture, because it really helps to see what the business is doing and it makes you more involved in the business of the company.
Information Technology includes different aspects, from private to professional usage, and provides a lot of options to evolve in your career. When working in IT, you will have the choice to work for a small company and do a little bit of every task, or work for a bigger company when you will need to be specialized in one specific domain. This all depends about your wishes, but you cannot be specialized in all fields.
In the next articles, I will try to develop longer different parts of IT, to provide a better understanding about what there is behind that.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and provide some feedback to work on new subjects.
Written by Nicolas Buache
Created on Thursday, 10 November 2011
Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 January 2012