Tools for Surviving the Golden Resignation

Feb. 21, 2024
The Golden Resignation in telecom and how to face workforce challenges with Out of Band technology.

What the Biggest Network Challenge Means for Businesses and How Out of Band Can Help

Most are aware of the Great Resignation (or Big Quit) of 2021, where employees voluntarily resigned from their jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many are not as familiar with the imminent Golden Resignation. This economic trend refers to the projection that a considerable portion of network engineers will retire in the next few years, having significant implications.

The Golden Resignation couldn’t come at a more inopportune time. A Gartner survey1 found that demand for technology talent still significantly exceeds supply, with almost 86% of CIOs reporting greater competition for qualified candidates. A deeper analysis of the Golden Resignation,2 conducted by Censuswide on behalf of a leading Out of Band management solutions provider, discovered that 86% of U.S.-based CIOs surveyed expect at least 25% of their network engineers to retire in the next five years. This global study, conducted in 2023, surveyed 502 CIOs and 510 network engineers in the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, and Australia, asking separate but complementary questions.

Perhaps the most important takeaway of the Golden Resignation is that the ever-shrinking pool of technology talent—particularly network engineers—calls into question the integrity of networks for today and the future. Faced with the reality of the Golden Resignation, it is paramount that companies begin to prepare accordingly, incorporating new network solutions like Out of Band Management to support their limited staff.

The Dangers of Operating with a Diminished Network Team

Today, round-the-clock access through resilient business networks is essential for employees throughout an organization to use resources and perform routine tasks. Nevertheless, maintaining a network and ensuring it has optimum uptime and minimal downtime is challenging. Resilient networks require hands-on management from a dedicated team of network professionals—professionals who happen to be retiring en masse.

The worsening skills shortage of network engineers is already causing trouble for businesses, with nearly every CIO surveyed saying that a decrease in engineers resulted in an inability to manage networks. Failure to maintain acceptable service can degrade the customer experience, causing many to take their business elsewhere, negatively affecting profits and rapport.

Due to the proximity and understanding of network engineers, they are deeply aware of the potential weakness of their company’s network. Consequently, less human oversight of one’s network can make it more susceptible to exploitation by cybercriminals. When asked to identify the main cyber threats to their business, U.S. CIOs ranked malware, spam and phishing, social engineering, and insider threats as the most concerning. These leaders’ fear is unsurprising, given that the average cost of downtime (including lost productivity and revenue, and IT labor and post-attack expenses) caused by a ransomware attack is $5.1 million per organization, according to CyberEdge Group.3

Interestingly, despite CIOs’ increasing IT budgets, 59% of U.S. network engineers believe that insufficient investment has increased the risk of cyberattacks and downtime, which will only exacerbate as these professionals retire. This issue is prevalent enough that 27% of U.S. network engineers may leave their businesses because of insufficient funding. With 98% of U.S. engineers admitting to having to achieve more with fewer resources in the past three months, these departures and looming retirees will jeopardize the safety and robustness of networks further.

How Out of Band Benefits Short-Handed Personnel

One solution businesses can leverage to alleviate pressure for short-staffed IT teams is Out of Band management. This provides a secure, remote connection to IT network environments during outages or disruptions in communications to the primary WAN/LAN. Out of Band technology includes serial console servers, which open an alternative pathway via a separate management plane, allowing network engineers to remediate physical and virtually connected devices.

Out of Band management is a much-needed boon for depleted teams, as it enables them to restore networks through remote access to a backup quickly. Additionally, Out of Band management will help engineers increase overall resiliency and flexibility, saving their companies from suffering the usual lost resources and revenue brought about by outages. This technology is also invaluable for first-day initial deployment and everyday network management.

It also empowers engineers to lockdown network elements and restrict access from any location during cyberattacks. For example, if a breach occurred due to malware or ransomware, engineers could use the console port to disable access to impacted network equipment, thereby isolating the incident. In addition to shutting down servers to protect private data, engineers can disconnect WAN connections to isolate a breach further; likewise, should engineers be unable to regain control of certain network assets, they can power off using remote PDU control capabilities. Also, engineers can use Out of Band management to reconfigure devices to factory default and later rebuild them through the console port.

Additionally, it can accelerate various network processes. In particular, the ability to deploy, manage, and remediate business networks remotely provides reduced IT teams more time to focus on other critical tasks, such as business performance and customer satisfaction. Similarly, Out of Band management makes networks better adapted for hybrid employees, as engineers can securely access and manage the network from any location. In fact, 47% of U.S. CIOs and engineers identified the ability to complete network-related tasks remotely as a top initiative to address the talent shortage. Organizations can also use Out of Band technology as a recruiting tool because it expands geographical reach, provides flexibility to busy workdays, and presents a valuable upskilling opportunity to engineers.

An Investment Today Is Money Saved Tomorrow

Out of Band solution providers incorporate automation, AI, and other emerging technologies like 5G into their offerings. Most CIOs and engineers believe that such technologies will be crucial to overcoming the tech skill shortage brought on by the Golden Resignation. For example, in the case of automation, businesses can establish automatic configuration and operation of network infrastructure in data centers and remote edge locations. Likewise, Out of Band solutions permit companies to set up automated alerts, which send SMS notifications to engineers concerning IT infrastructure; plus, network solutions, like failover to cellular, will automatically prevent downtime.

Concerning 5G, best-in-class Out of Band offerings—including Opengear’s Smart Out of Band solution—can support resiliency in 5G-powered networks and edge locations. While only 53% of U.S. engineers fully rely on 5G for remediation of network issues, 5G deployments empower them to enhance the end-user experience, boost revenue, and improve process efficiencies. Nevertheless, investing in new technologies, like automation, AI, 5G, and—most notably—Out of Band, is a difficult decision today for businesses. The ongoing economic downturn squeezes budgets, making companies believe that investments in new technologies are luxuries they cannot afford. Although this hesitancy from businesses is understandable, ultimately, the benefits of Out of Band will quickly outweigh any losses incurred from downtime.

1. Gartner, https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2023-03-07-do-recent-layoffs-mean-the-tech-talent-crunch-is-over
2. Opengear, https://opengear.com/right-people-right-skills-addressing-one-of-the-biggest-network-challenges-today/
3. CyberEdge Group, https://cyber-edge.com/ 
About the Author

Analisa Dominic | Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President of Marketing, Opengear

Analisa Dominic is Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President of Marketing at Opengear. She is responsible for leading the global marketing organization within the company. With more than 30 years’ experience in the telecommunications industry, she has a diverse background that includes sales, marketing, product development and management. A results-focused leader, Analisa specializes in developing creative, integrated go-to-market strategies to increase revenues of existing and new product portfolios. Prior to joining Opengear, Analisa worked at Ericsson, as well as Telstra Global, BT Global Services, AT&T, and IBM. She holds a Master of Science in Marketing with honors from Rochester Institute of Technology.

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