6 reasons why you should start a career in a systems integrator
The IT sector is one of the most attractive for young professionals. Moreover, not only due to high incomes but also due to a wide variety of specializations and areas where you can try your hand. A technical graduate can focus on careers as a developer, tester, data analyst, sysadmin, and more. You can start your career as a data center engineer and progress to a system architect. Finally, the IT market offers professionals the most flexible conditions in terms of employment and work hours. Depending on your personality type and character, you can find yourself in a corporation, start doing freelance projects, or create your own startup.
Another path that young professionals do not often pay attention to is a career in a systems integrator. Little is said about the opportunities that new hires face at these tech companies. However, starting a career as an integrator has its advantages. I’ll tell you more about them.
Extensive technology stack, diverse projects
There are few places where you can get acquainted with as many technologies as in a system integrator. Even working for global corporations is not always capable of providing such a variety of opportunities. In a system integrator, you can quickly form a comprehensive view of the market, learn about the strengths and weaknesses and features of each solution, see how they interact as part of large-scale IT infrastructures. And, which is important for young professionals, they regularly receive training from the largest developers and suppliers of IT solutions.
System integrator teams are among the first to test technological innovations from leading manufacturers – Intel, Cisco, SAP, and others. For example, not so long ago, the Skaly-R team, together with a partner, a graph DBMS developer, tested a new Intel Optane solution. We have carried out a full-fledged R&D, and our specialists have already presented the research results at the Intel conference and at the SAP event. The time and effort spent on experimentation is successfully monetized in terms of marketing and helps to motivate specialists.
Scale of projects
IT infrastructures for the largest backbone organizations – ministries and departments, factories, oil corporations and even nuclear power plants – are usually created in system integrators. Participation in digitalization projects of such enterprises is a unique chance for a young specialist to improve his knowledge and skills; “Touch” large-scale developments and reach a new professional level.
All large-scale projects are voluminous and complex, and their implementation is always associated with the creation of unique infrastructure solutions, an abundance of integrations – often complex and non-standard. Often, system integrators introduce their own certified products and developments into the customer’s ecosystem, created taking into account all the necessary requirements. In this case, R&D is usually carried out within the project team.
The technology stack here will be much larger and wider than in projects for smaller customers. Leading enterprises put forward special requirements for fault tolerance and disaster tolerance of systems, data safety, security, and more. Sometimes, the level of customers is larger than the capabilities of one company. To become a full-fledged provider for them, the system integrator not only pays great attention to partnerships with vendors but also invests heavily in training and developing their own teams.
The nuances of knowledge and experience that IT professionals acquire by participating in such projects cannot be obtained, perhaps, anywhere else. Participation in large-scale projects is not just a line on a resume. This is a unique opportunity to demonstrate your potential and make a powerful career leap.
Participation in R&D
Since each large-scale project is unique and puts forward certain requirements for the contractor, the teams of the system integrator have to engage in full-fledged R&D. Before offering a solution to a customer, you need to test a lot of hypotheses in practice and make sure that one component works effectively with another, and that the infrastructure can withstand high loads, does not contain vulnerabilities and is fault-tolerant. Finding the optimal combination of products, approaches, and technologies require going through many options and conducting a huge amount of testing. We at Rubytech regularly test technologies for compatibility, create and research new software, analyze the effectiveness of integrations, etc.
Another important vector for us was the direction of product R&D. Today, almost every major integrator produces and develops its own products. This was largely influenced by the import substitution policy – many of the largest customers in the market are legally obliged to use Russian solutions.
The department that works within the integrator to create a new product may in the future grow into an independent business within a group of companies. This happens a lot in Rubytech. For example, this is how the Skala-R appeared. For team members, this can mean fairly rapid career growth and relative freedom in decision-making. An atmosphere of entrepreneurship reigns within such projects – here people can freely change their roles, try new things, and directly influence what the product will be like. In fact, these are industrial startups, but thanks to the support from the parent company, they have an element of stability. In such teams, there is often a place for young professionals who are ready to quickly immerse themselves in the process and actively learn. And this is a unique opportunity to stand at the origins of a new complex product.
But the main thing in such projects is a variety of different and non-standard tasks. We test all our new solutions before we bring them to market. For example, now in one of our products from the Scala family we are working on a backup for an MPP database. This is a very specific thing, and here you need to figure out how to copy data. Implementation is possible using various technologies. Each has its own advantages and limitations. Our task is to choose the best performance option. Before making a decision at the team level, we test all combinations and configurations.
In doing so, we try to maintain a balance. On the one hand, a system integrator is not a research institute, but a commercial enterprise. Therefore, everything we do should be aimed at increasing profits. However, it takes a lot of time and lots of experimentation to make a really good product. And if in the process of these tests someone has a new idea, we give him the opportunity to discuss it with other team members and, if possible, test it.
Opportunities for development
The development of specialists in system integrators is not limited to training and certification from manufacturers of IT solutions. Companies regularly conduct internal educational events for employees. Attending industry conferences, meetups and networking, participation in hackathons is an integral part of the work. The most promising employees get the opportunity to speak at industry events as speakers.
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In addition, the exchange of technical news is actively developed in the communities of IT integrators. At Rubytech, we constantly monitor industry trends. Previously, we regularly met offline, but now we have several active Telegram channels where we actively communicate on professional topics. Colleagues post there information about interesting industry events and news. Sometimes interesting discussions arise in chats.
In addition to improving IT skills, teams of integrators pay great attention to the development of so-called soft skills. Time management, the basics of business communications, the subtleties of preparing presentations, public speaking, project management – all this can be learned under the guidance of experienced coaches in a system integrator.
In such companies, the institution of mentoring is often well developed – from the first day, a young specialist is assigned to a more experienced colleague who helps him go through the first stages of his career, teaches, and is personally responsible for the development of a newcomer. This approach makes it possible to comfortably develop along an individual trajectory. Working in a system integrator, you can personally communicate with real market legends who stood at the origins of the formation of the IT industry. They are carriers of unique knowledge and can teach a lot.
A culture of high responsibility
Since systems integrators invest a lot of resources in developing their people, it is in their best interest to keep people in the company for as long as possible. Therefore, in such companies, they try to take care of specialists. And this manifests itself not only in free coffee, “cookies” and on-site team building but also in more mundane things that other employers sometimes forget about. Regular salary payments without delays, official registration in the state, voluntary medical insurance – you don’t have to worry about all this if you go to work for major market players.
The backbone of the project teams of system integrators is qualified IT specialists. Many have worked in the market for over 15 years. Continuous professional development, self-realization, and inspiring projects are key values for such professionals. With this in mind, IT integrator management is doing everything it can to motivate employees. Free certification from vendors, mentoring, training events within the company, creation of individual career plans, HR consultations, and training – all this is available in large system integrators.
An environment that actively promotes self-development, a good choice for a beginner IT specialist.
The opportunity to try yourself in different roles
Working in a system integrator, an employee gets the opportunity to try himself in different roles. Let me explain on the experience of Rubytech. Not so long ago a young specialist came to our company as an engineer. At the beginning of his career, he was seconded to the engineers of the Skala-R product department, where he was assigned a mentor. We allowed the beginner to get to any information, actively involved him in the testing and product discussion processes. After our new colleague understood how products and solutions work, learned to “work with his hands,” he began to actively put forward ideas at the product committee. We noticed this and transferred him to the position of presale engineer. The IT specialist continued to grow as a professional, actively demonstrating his involvement in the creation of the product – now from an architectural design point of view.
As soon as a newcomer comes to us, we integrate them into the project team. During adaptation, he gets acquainted with the project, our products, solutions, program code and at the same time participates in testing. This is the only way to immerse yourself in the processes and see “from the inside” how everything works.
We especially appreciate engineers who can show “the product with their face”, communicate with the customer. Moreover, choose the terminology depending on the level of the interlocutor – be it an ordinary engineer or the head of the IT department. Particular success in the integrator’s team is achieved by people who do not divide tasks into “theirs” and “others”, but actively join the team, help, offer, advise. We encourage these employees and motivate them to try themselves in different roles.
How to get into a system integrator
System integrators periodically launch internship programs – you can track information about this on social networks or in the news sections on company websites. Many technology companies have adopted a refer-a-friend system, where employees can refer acquaintances to open positions. Such resumes are usually considered first.
To get a job as a system integrator, you need to have a basic understanding of the principles of building IT infrastructures by major manufacturers and suppliers of IT products and solutions. Usually, on the website of each company it is indicated which solutions the organization works with – study this information.
Many system integrators cooperate with leading technical universities, overseeing areas in the magistracy. Programs are developed taking into account the requirements of an IT integrator who acts as a partner of the direction. Master’s students get the opportunity to learn how the processes are built in the company, with which technology partners it works, they can take an internship in a system integrator, and then stay to work.
A red diploma from one of the country’s leading technical universities can give a candidate a competitive edge, but this is not a requirement at all. It is much more important to be actively interested in what is happening in the IT infrastructure and not only. A young specialist should be well aware that now everything is moving to the software level. If earlier everything was determined by the power of “hardware”, today the approach “software-defined everything” dominates. And if a person is interested in developing in this direction, understanding how “hardware” works, then he has every chance to quickly advance in an integrator.
And, conversely, when representatives of the business unit launch services, they simply have to know on which servers all this will be implemented. At a minimum, understand where hidden risks may lie and how the infrastructure can be improved. So, for example, we see that today vertical scalability is moving to horizontal – instead of one expensive powerful server, many smaller ones are used. All the leading players in the digital market follow this path: Google, Yandex, Facebook.
If we talk about product development, then at Rubytech, and in general on the market, it is mainly carried out in the Python language. Knowledge of modern approaches to development is required: Agile, SCRUM, and others. And also – the desire to achieve results is important, to create an ideal product.
The career path of an IT specialist in an integrator is limited solely by his aspiration and abilities. People can freely grow within teams, change their roles, use their expertise when creating a new product or solution. The main thing is not to be afraid to try and take the initiative.