(This originally appeared on Cloud Computing Sys-Con.com)
In the cloud era, you as an IT professional are being forced to adopt new roles and take on new responsibilities you may not feel equipped to handle. Businesses are becoming increasingly hybrid, leaving you to manage, secure, monitor, and remediate technology on-premises and in the cloud. Of course, this comes with risks because it means you must manage mission-critical layers of application services across networks, systems, and services you neither own nor control. In fact, in many cases, you may not even have visibility into all the environments you’re responsible to ensure the performance of. Indeed, the SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2017 found that 50 percent of IT professionals surveyed lack control and visibility into their cloud environments.
Still, traditional and siloed roles are converging, and you as an IT professional need a laser focus on improving and cultivating fundamental skillsets – such as automation and data analytics – that will carry you into the cloud. Not only that, but you need to be able to speak to the latest technology trends affecting the business landscape, particularly those technologies impacting your organization. Getting “left behind” is a very real possibility; even a veteran IT professional runs the risk of losing out on interesting projects, a seat at the table with decision makers, or even a promotion to someone better equipped to handle the new responsibilities associated with the cloud and hybrid IT. In fact, 57 percent of IT professionals surveyed also indicated their organizations have either hired or reassigned IT personnel for the specific purpose of managing cloud and cloud-related technologies, or they plan to hire or reassign IT personnel for such in the foreseeable future.
An IT staff skills gap is one of the biggest challenges businesses face today. Consider the example of executives wanting to move a significant portion of infrastructure to the cloud. Without you, an IT pro who knows (from that IT Trends report) that 35 percent of those surveyed had to move something BACK on-premises, who would provide guidance on why that may not be such a wise decision? Otherwise the organization may wind up suffering twice – when it becomes difficult to move to the cloud, and then once again when it has to suffer through the recovery. The takeaway? Knowwhich workloads to move to the cloud, how long the migration will take, implications of the move, the best vendor to choose to suit your purposes, and make appropriate configuration choices.
And although cloud migrations can be brought back on-premises – due mostly to security/compliance issues, poor performance, or other technical challenges, according the survey – it’s more vital than ever to act as a knowledgebase for the organization and get it right the first time.
Developing Key Skills: Breadth, Depth, or Specialization?
Specializing in technology paradigms related to the cloud while developing a broad understanding of a variety of its facets is critical to success. Understand what “going to the cloud” means for your organization, because, for example, implementing a cloud-based solution in the legal industry will be materially different than in the healthcare industry.
As mentioned above, automation and data analytics are two very important skills to have. To work on these, refine your analytical reasoning skills. Statistics is a course to take rather than a skill to develop; while logical thinking and proper analytics are not needed for statistics, they are necessary to improve analytical thinking. In addition, focus on various facets of data such as data collection, curation, cleansing, analysis, and reporting.
Certifications are another way to develop a broad understanding of cloud technology-you can both develop skills to bring back to your companies, as well as uncover the possibility of discovering a new tech passion. Cloud certifications can make you more marketable; particularly Amazon Web ServicesTM certifications and certifications related to serverless computing. However, “general” cloud certifications such as those offered by CompTIA® are great to get a broad knowledge of the topic and uncover areas in which you want to further specialize.
Best Practices To “Cloud-Proof” Your Job
Although there’s no master certification that will give you your dream job or all the answers, there are some guidelines you can follow to quickly upskill and help you succeed in the hybrid IT era:
- Learn the cloud: Explore free cloud offerings. Before making a budgetary commitment, discover the different cloud options. This not only holds business value, but also provides an opportunity for you to potentially discover a new passion.
- Be a specialist and a generalist simultaneously: Hone skills that are specialized enough to do the job well, but broad enough to transfer to jobs in other platforms and verticals. Seven out of 10 IT professionals (69%) surveyed said their organizations currently use up to three cloud provider environments, with the largest percentage using two to three; however, one out of every 10 (9%) use 10 or more.
- Get a starter certification: Certifications give you a sense of the scope and breath of the cloud environment. Potential cloud certifications for IT professionals to consider include CompTIA Cloud+®, MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, VMware® VCP6 – Cloud, AWS® Certified Solutions Architect – Professional, and Dell® EMCCA: EMC® Cloud Architect.
- Become a data scientist: Learn to love the mathematics behind cloud. Develop logical thinking and proper analytics.
- Learn interfaces: Know interfaces and adapt as they change. It’s not always necessary to learn entirely new technologies, but it is necessary to polish existing scripting skills.
IT professionals who are operating or will operate in hybrid IT environments-and that’s just about everyone – must develop new skills to remain relevant. Allowing the cloud era to pass you by without engaging puts you at a disadvantage, so to avoid getting left behind, learn the cloud both generally and specifically; exploring free tools and receiving starter certifications can help develop specific skills to bring to businesses and discover passion projects. While the cloud may seem daunting, developing the right skills can help you soar.