The more you learn…

I had an open week last week because of a last minute cancellation… so I took advantage of the time to catch up on some updated technology. A chance to ‘Sharpen the Saw‘.

Turned my home office into a little lab area and tested a variety of new technologies. Wi-Fi access points, baby FTP Servers on a USB drive (for class), beta testing some new software for a variety of vendors, configuring Wi-Fi on a series of netbooks using Linux, XP, Vista, and Windows 7, re-wiring a cradlepoint device to a battery for more MiFi type usage, etc.

Through this experience I was reminded of a thought I’ve had over the years.

The more you learn about something, the more you understand how little you really know…

I’ve focused most of my professional energies for the last 8 years on learning about, installing, troubleshooting, and testing Wi-Fi. I thought it was wireless networking… but have since learned I can barely stay current with just 802.11 issues, let alone stay current in WiMax, Cellular, etc.

Now I can barely stay current with the equipment from a small subset of vendors. So many vendors in the Wi-Fi space are moving to more propietary solutions — trying to carve out a niche for themselves — that it’s hard to have hands-on expereince with all of their various interfaces and technological improvements.

How do end-user IT departments expect to be able to decide on one vendor over another. They are all shouting and hawking their wares in the marketplace. Dis’ing one another, scambling to get an ‘edge’ on the competition.

If I’m having a hard time keeping them all straight–and this is my full time job–how can an IT Professional who has other responsibilites as well, make the correct decision for thier facility?

More and more it falls to the ‘Certified Magazine Reader’ class of managers and their counterparts in the vendor community (the marketing guys) to make the decisions. Then the IT folks are left trying to implement a wireless network that was never truly analyzed… just purchased.

An Unfair, and Unwise situation for any IT staff to be stuck with. They are now tasked with making a wireless network work… with equipment that may, or may not, be able to meet some undefined goal.

So with this second week of ‘prep time’ – I’ll be looking into more Wi-Fi solutions, finding myself ever further behind on the proprietary techonology curve, but still trying to learn all their is to learn about Wi-Fi.

I do foresee a future where I’ll have to focus my knowledge down even further to just one aspect of Wireless Networking… perhaps just Surveying (proving the capabilities of installed systems) – or focus only on designing for 802.11n or something like that with a tight focus.

There is just too much to learn…