Cloud

IT pros: How to incorporate cloud skills into your career

Here are some tips for preparing to incorporate cloud technology into your career.

I've had a few emails from TechRepublic members asking how the cloud will impact IT careers. From what I'm hearing, we're not going to be seeing a lot of IT pros known as cloud specialists. Instead, you can expect IT pros who are already working for an enterprise to have to learn cloud skills in addition to their existing duties.

In other words, a company's technical architect with add a specialty to his or her title, as in "technical architect specializing in server virtualization or cloud computing. "

Other skills that will be important to the cloud specialist will be project management, delivery capabilities, and an understanding of project life cycles. And, of course, as I've emphasized so much in the past, an understanding of how tech impacts the business.

So what does one do to prepare for a specialization in the cloud? I asked Rick Vanover, our Servers and Storage blogger, to weigh in with some suggestions:

Know the technologies

There are a lot of cloud technologies in play, but what are the key elements. Cloud storage for data protection is very different than cloud storage from primary storage, such as a hybrid file server. Same goes for computer resources, database and full servers in the cloud.

Are cloud-based apps enough?

The SaaS model isn't new, it has just tried to fit into the cloud model. That's a proven success strategy.

Know when to pass on the cloud

Sometimes, and many times for typical organizations, there are just too many obstacles to embrace the cloud. Knowing these or knowing how to navigate these will equip someone well.

Private cloud

Much easier to absorb yet leverage technologies most of us already use. Whether it be virtualization or self-service portals, the tools are available to do many cloud functions on-prem. The real value to any organization will be to deliver a successful orchestration or dare I say governance model to these technologies. For example, technology exists today to let users create their own SharePoint servers or other business function applications. These tools won't protect inherently what data goes in here and how. This is where the administrator can ensure the workflow is correct.

Security and trust zones

Knowing the requirements of an organization and how to pair cloud technologies to specific needs will clear the path to cloud acceptance or have clear reasoning on why not to go to public cloud resources.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

13 comments
sirstarr
sirstarr

Look up WMI and WMIC its managing the pc environment via scripts. These can be developed into a software that can manage your network to an extent. Some processes will always be manual. But this might give an HR person an ability to add a user to the network into a specific container via a web app for example. The down side is a lot of the companies don't want to commit to cleaning up Active Directory to make it all work as intended. You should be able to manage policies, group memberships and even install software.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Maybe I'm not understanding the context of 'virtualization'. My only experience has been with virtual servers, in most cases as replacements for existing physical servers. We've done this all in house, within the existing network infrastructure excluding a couple of new servers to act as hosts. As we freed up existing single-purpose physical servers, the best ones were converted to act as virtual hosts. I understand it's possible to virtualize client systems too, but I don't know what that has to do with 'cloud computing' (Rant: I don't get those MS 'To the Cloud!' ads. The campaign uses the term 'cloud' interchangeably with 'Internet'. Almost everything they show people doing can be done on the local client system without any connecting to any external systems. The exception is the idiots stranded at the airport, using a wireless connection to access their home DVR instead of trying to arrange other transportation. End of rant.) I don't get why virtualization and cloud computing are often mentioned as if there's some connection between them. If there is, would someone explain it to me? I understand the term 'cloud computing' to mean using the Internet to connect to a provider's computing services. If I'm wrong, please explain how my misunderstanding leads to my failing to see the relationship with virtualization. Thanks in advance.

al
al

I too would like to know as to what should be a definition of "the cloud" and the tech/knowledge needed to access it.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

I don't need to incorporate any buzzwords to my career, there are already too many.

drand54
drand54

Could you specify which cloud technologies IT pros should learn?

LeCookDeGrunt
LeCookDeGrunt

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) cloud providers such as Amazon or Linode invariably offers virtual machines you can host your apps and data unto. Those could be based on Xen, VMware or other virtualization platforms. In a broader perspective, an assortment of virtual servers living within a LAN could be called a 'private cloud' as termed and offered via GoGrid or RackSpace.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'd say it's the 'phrase du jour' replacement for older terms like 'client-server', etc. Not meaningless, but nothing new either.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

That would seem to me to be a good place to start. After that, what technologies are in use where you work? Virtualization? Remote storage and backup? Client/server? SaaS?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

So if I've got a physical host with a couple of virtual guest servers (which I do), I've got a 'private cloud'? Bogus.

Geekaholic
Geekaholic

Redundancy, Failover, High Availability and Load Balancing is by default available for most of the virtualisation platforms without any additional cost or any complex configuration. That makes it better equipped and effective for hosting a cloud application, thus began the association. To add to this.. cloud computing rest on a concept where the underlying hardware is immaterial for the user as well as the IT guy who supports it. As a broken server wont affect the user, thanks to failover capability. And routine maintenance would be easier for IT due to the high availability and load balancing. This can be best achieved in a cost effective way only by using virtualisation. Just my 2 cents !!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

But a lot of what you describe can be done with physical servers. Redundancy, failover, load balancing, breaking an application into components - all of these were in operation before virtual servers. If these are done with physical boxes, no one calls it a cloud.

jeremysaye
jeremysaye

Virtualization is just the underlying technology powering most "clouds", but a true cloud implementation involves a lot more than just virtualization. There can be 2, 10, or 1000+ inter-networked servers that pool their physical resources (processing power, memory, storage space). A hypervisor such as Xen is running on each of these physical nodes to allow virtual servers to consume a chunk of its resources. The magic of "cloud" occurs when you can set up some sort of software application that is split into several logical components (load balancers, web front-end servers, back-end processors, databases, NAS file storage, etc) - each of these components can run in its own virtual machine somewhere on this grid. If implemented properly, this arrangement can allow the application to remain fully up and running even if an entire node dies or is disconnected. It can even allow for auto-scaling of resources as needed based on demand: more web servers are automatically spooled up as site traffic spikes. Very cool, and very useful! Unfortunately, many companies are seemingly jumping on the "cloud" bandwagon regardless of what they actually offer, and Microsoft's ads equating the "cloud" to anything Internet-based are not helping matters... I wouldn't consider a single host with virtual servers to be a "private cloud". You'd need a grid composed of at least 2 or more servers running some sort of cloud OS such as AppLogic to provide some level of redundancy of the data across the grid if one of the servers goes down. Hope this helps.