The 8 Hottest Skills for '08

AJAX, .Net, XML, PHP and other Web 2.0 programming skills top the in-demand list

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Thanks to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, "there has to be a way to control security on databases and networks to a level that we've never had to lock it down before," says Joel Reiter, an application analyst at U.S. Bancorp in St. Paul, Minn.

5. Data centers. There has been a flurry of activity among companies and government agencies to upgrade or relocate their data centers to take advantage of virtualization and other recent data automation and efficiency gains. The data center gold rush is also being fueled by expanding data management and storage requirements being imposed by regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

And as organizations place greater reliance on open systems to run mission-critical applications, many companies are recruiting experienced mainframe technicians to apply the same type of "industrial-strength computing" disciplines they've acquired to distributed systems, says CompTIA's Hopkins.

Meanwhile, demand for database management experts is growing "simply because organizations are putting a heck of a lot more of their business [data] on these very large databases," says Hopkins.

6. Business knowledge. As IT organizations strive to align more closely with the businesses they support, demand remains strong for people with business acumen, whether they're specialized business analysts, business liaisons or application developers and other technicians with business-specific knowledge.

"It's not impossible for us to find a technical person, but it is more difficult to find someone who can be a jack of all trades [across technical skills] with the business acumen to be a combination business analyst/systems analyst," says Quiznos' Hood. "It's hard to find that total package of skill sets."

That's also helping to drive demand for technologists who can serve as IT/business "translators," says Robert Rosen, immediate past president of Share, an IBM user group, and CIO of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases in Bethesda, Md.

7 & 8. Networking and telecommunications. All sorts of networking skills are hot right now, including general network administration capabilities and network convergence, wireless and network security talents, as organizations collapse their voice and data networks with wireless and voice-over-IP technologies, says Mercer's Van De Voort.

"There's a great opportunity for people in the infrastructure space as well, including messaging administrators and network/systems administrators who act as the air-traffic controllers for e-mail, corporate networks and PDAs," says Robert Half Technology's Spencer Lee. There's also huge demand for people with wireless know-how, particularly those with security skills, as a growing number of organizations try to build secure mobile applications, says Sabre's Garrison.

"The Achilles' heel in the networking world is how to handle security in a networked environment," says Garrison. NEXT: Hiring Ticks Up Again  

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Forecast 2008: IT Trends & Predictions for the New Year

How'd we do in '07?  See last year's Forecast 2007.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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