Developing and maintaining a strong base of skills and tools is a challenge for most security professionals, possibly even more than most technology experts.

The obstacles to gaining and updating key skill sets mount along with the emerging of even more complex technologies. But as security systems integrators’ expertise increases, the better the chances of being selected to join or lead projects. Training and effective training are two very opposite sides of the pole. A short burst of basic knowledge only goes so far.

Overcoming time and training obstacles is a most difficult challenge. But morale is always high when opportunities are coupled with quality, strategic education in advance of a wave of new technology efforts. Projects are planned more effectively and completed more efficiently if security integrators are prepared with the knowledge to tackle these new technologies and have the right tools.

Weigh the budgets for training against the cost and risk of project failure and the need for effective training becomes clearer. Systems integrators need to also consider achieving certification for the training whenever possible.

The next steps

There are three primary areas of interest to most security professionals:

Update training – Keep up to date with strategic vendor product offerings. This type of training expands your existing knowledge base and teaches you new features and offerings.

Classes in infrastructure and fundamentals – Because many projects cross over a company’s networks and infrastructures, security integrators must understand the organization well enough to design and implement solution architectures.

An example of this is Network+, a certification offered by CompTIA, which emphasizes overall networking technology knowledge. Objectives for this course include understanding Network Operating Systems (Windows, Unix), Networking Components (routers, firewalls, switches), Networking Protocols (TCP/IP), and Managing Networks (Virus, SPAM, SpyWare, Backups)

Vendor product training – Strategic products from specific companies are the focus of these classes. Most have certifications that range from an “Associate” or “Professional” level to “Administrator” or “Engineer” level. An example is Cisco Systems CCNA (Certified Cisco Network Associate), which emphasizes planning and implementing Cisco Internetworking Devices.

The best approach to staying sharp in security technology today is meeting these new challenges with a solid plan to invest in the education of your employees. By training on the latest technologies, your company will gain a wide breadth of knowledge at the infrastructure level, have a depth of knowledge on key vendor products and service offerings, receive certification credentials, and ultimately succeed where others will fail.