Weekly Word on the Street: Security Pays Best

by Jim Staats | Nov 21, 2011

Takeaway of the week is that, ironically, the most secure position in IT seems to be in IT security - or at least its the best chance for better pay around the corner. However, it doesn’t hurt, apparently, to know how to handle big blobs of data using Hadoop. If you’re in the Pacific Northwest then you probably already know you’re in a good place.


Security the Best Way To Secure Better Pay

Findings from a new salary guide indicate IT professionals working in the security sector can expect the best news when it comes to pay raises in the coming year.

Salaries for IT security professionals are projected to increase 4.5 percent, the highest projected increase among various industry segments, in 2012, according to Robert Half Technology’s latest salary guide.

The rise of cloud computing use and threat levels across the globe have helped make security the hot IT career when it comes to salary, says the staffing firm’s latest findings as reported in eWeek.com.

Good news for other folks as well: IT salaries, in general, are predicted to bump up by 3 percent next year.

The survey, which follows 70 different IT tracks, found that security roles including data security analysts, network security administrators and information system security managers, can expect higher salary increases than average when measured against all IT jobs.

Nearly a quarter of CIOs surveyed listed security as their number one concern.

The guide is based on analysis pulled from thousands of North American job placements overseen by the staffing firm, covering industries including health care, financial services, retail, IT consulting and telecommunications.


Sleepless, But not Techless, in Seattle

Those who think Seattle’s technology footprint begins and ends with the monolith known as Microsoft would be sadly mistaken.

While the computing giant remains a major player, the emerald city of the Pacific Northwest is quickly becoming known as the second most significant hub of technology and entrepreneurship, behind Silicon Valley.

Amazon.com, Salesforce.com, Facebook, Zynga and Google are some of the big names to put down roots in recent times, according to a Reuters report.

Microsoft can take some credit for the regional tech boom as its existence, along with strong science and engineering programs at nearby University of Washington, began laying the groundwork for an enviable influx of the best and brightest.

“It is availability of talent, and relevant talent,” said Frank Artale, a local venture capitalist in explaining the boom. “That’s why we attract people to do things in our state.”

In the first nine months of 2011, venture capital firms invested $416 million in Seattle metro region companies. While that may be a fraction of the $8.4 billion invested in Silicon Valley over the same period, it’s quite a haul for a city of only 600,000.

Regardless of the length of technology expansion in the area, it’ll be hard to outgrow the Microsoft legacy. Several firms are housed in buildings established by co-founder Paul Allen, guided by alumni or populated by graduates of U of W’s Microsoft-funded computer science department. The company even helps startups with free software through its BizSpark program.


Got Hadoop? Will Be Hired

If chatter from the recent Hadoop World conference is any indication, IT professionals equipped with skills wrangling big data such as that supported by the free, Java-based programming framework are in high demand.

Numerous analysts and IT managers at last week’s event in New York signaled that as more firms adopt Hadoop, workers with the necessary skills were in short supply and those who had it could demand a hefty fee, according to a Computerworld report.

Whether weblogs, social media content or click stream data, companies have more than enough avenues to get a handle on their customers and business. In response, Hadoop allows firms to store and manage these volumes of data too massive to be handled by the relational database management systems of today. Into this breach comes the worker with advanced analytics skills to the rescue.

Hadoop demand breaks down into three categories: data analysts or data scientists; data engineers; and IT data management professionals, according to executives.

Firms currently are turning to service providers to fill these workforce gaps, as evidenced by the higher revenues generated by consulting firms involving Hadoop than by sale of Hadoop products.

One glaring example of the need for qualified professionals: IT executives from JP Morgan Chase and EBay used their conference keynote addresses as opportunities to recruit from the audience.


CNN Doc Stirs Talk of Race in Tech Circles

The question of whether race factors into success within the technology industry has become a hot topic amid the recent airing of a new CNN documentary on Silicon Valley.

Depicting eight African American would-be entrepreneurs hoping to break through an industry dominated by white men, the program, “The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley,” has stirred intense debate on the Internet, according to a recent article in the New York Times.

The program, the fourth installment in the channel’s “Black in America” series, created a lot of the talk on a previously untouched subject - a lack of diversity in Silicon Valley - even before it aired Nov. 13.

One particular quote in the documentary that triggered much of the firestorm was by blogger and venture capitalist Michael Arrington, who is shown stating, “I don’t know a single black entrepreneur.”

Mitchell Kapor, the founder of Lotus Development Corporation, said the documentary and the discussion surrounding it will help open people’s eyes.

“Silicon Valley isn’t always the meritocracy it aspires to be,” he said, “and people who don’t acknowledge that have never had to deal with actual barriers and obstacles that can get in the way.”


Facebook Exec Wants More Women in Tech

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has never been a shrinking violet when it comes to women in the workplace.

Touting a resume chock full of executive roles on powerhouses including Google, the World Bank and the U.S. Treasury Department before her current gig, Sandberg talked up the stunning lack of women execs in tech during her recent keynote speech at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

Among the highlights of her talk at the Portland event, as noted in the Wall Street Journal, Sandberg reminded her audience that technology is a growth industry and a good one to join, at that.

She said it was imperative for women in the industry to set an example by believing in themselves first.

“The main reason women don’t go into computer science turns out to be women don’t go into computer science,” Sandberg said.

Also, don’t impose career limitations because of future plans for children.

She encouraged others to follow her lead and speak out, noting it took her a while to use her platform for such talks.

“My generation is not going to change this,” Sandberg said.

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