How much technical knowledge is needed to manage my LAN/WAN team?

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LAN
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Managers
Network management
Networking
WAN
I am currently a Service Desk manager. I may be taking on a new role (which I asked for) as IT Manager that is not only in charge of the Service Desk but also the LAN/WAN. As a manager, how much technical knowledge is needed to manage the LAN/WAN portion of the team? Can I get by for a while relying on my techs?
ASKED: November 7, 2008  4:18 PM
UPDATED: November 10, 2008  3:40 PM

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Dear Sir or Madam:

A basic understanding of LAN and WAN technologies and related products–especially those your company already uses or plans to acquire in the next 12-24 months–is probably essential to your ability to function well as a manager over such areas. That said, you can probably get most of what you need to know out of a couple or three good books on the subject. Likewise, a decent working knowledge of TCP/IP (the protocol suite that enables the Internet and most private networks to function) is also essential.

As it happens, I’ve written a couple of textbooks in this area, both for Course Technology: Networking Essentials (4th edition) and Guide to TCP/IP (3rd edition). You could do worse than to read those, but you should also look into Andrew Tanenbaum’s Computer Networking book (the latest version I’ve got is the fourth, but there may be a 5th edition out by now), and Jeffrey Beasley’s Networking , 2e. On the TCP/IP side, Charlese Kozierok’s TCP/IP Guide is a phenomenal reference, and Douglas Comer’s TCP/IP (volume 1) is probably the best-known and most respected introduction to that subject matter around. You might also want to consider purchasing a Network+ prep book (for the CompTIA exam of the same name) and working through that material as well.

In the interim, you’ll have no choice but to rely on your techs. Make it clear you’ll be working hard to come up to speed, and let them know you will do your best to develop sufficient technical background to understand your job fully and fairly.

Good luck in your new position. It sounds like you’re going to be broadening your technical and business horizons!

–Ed–

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  • Labnuke99
    Ed as always has great advice and resources. Education and understanding is a must to gain the trust of your techs/engineers. You do have a say in what is done as their manager. You cannot always let the flock rule the range. You need to have a suspicious mind as to why things need to be done and also what the impact of one change is on the existing operations. I'm not saying be overly suspicious and block all changes, but continue to ask "Why?" and have the techs explain it to you so you can learn what they are doing and ensure they understand the implications of their actions.
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