The Evolution of the IT Professional – Understanding the Cloud’s Demands

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A staff member in an Equinix facility.

A staff member in an Equinix facility.

The technology landscape has truly evolved over the past few years – and with that evolution comes a new demand for the future of IT administration.

IT managers and engineers are tasked with knowing more, understanding further components within their own environments and must have the ability to truly be creative. The old days of IT saw engineering dedicated to one process. Rare interaction between teams was seen as an exception rather than norm. Cross-IT team collaboration would be usually done at the management level, and even then it wasn’t always successful.

There is a new breed of engineers being born from the era of cloud computing. New job titles are being created with demands being placed on engineers who are unique and have the ability to communicate. In this post, we’ll outline some of the traits which are in high demand from this new type of IT professional.

Among many new traits and personality qualities that an engineer may have, the following are beginning to emerge as truly defining characteristics of the new IT pro:

  • Communication. There is a misconception and even a stereotype that IT people are quiet, introverted and often times don’t communicate well. Although in some cases this may be true, many successful IT professionals have broken out of that shell. Communication is crucial to the success of any IT person. The new technological environment calls for people who can not only walk the walk – but explain what route they took. Furthermore, this oftentimes will mean explaining various technology objectives to both end-uses and executive staff.
  • Leadership. Administrators and engineers must take more of a leadership role if they wish to progress in their careers. Usually, this means saying ‘no’ to things. However, a real leader won’t only know when to say ‘no’, but also how to say it. Effectively challenging ideas and collaborating to help evolve solutions is much better than flat out saying ‘no’ to things.
  • Drive. Complacency in IT has always had detrimental effects. With all of these new technologies being released on a seemingly daily basis – being complacent now is worse than ever. IT pros must have the drive to keep pushing forward, learning new things and expanding their horizons.
  • “Thinking outside of the data center.” Cloud computing and distributed infrastructures have created a new line of thinking. IT folks, both young and seasoned, must know how to see the big picture whenever they’re working with a large corporate environment, including a thorough understanding of business goals and objectives. Cloud computing has truly created a new breed of architects who have to incorporate various technologies to establish sound solutions. We’ll get into this in the next blog!
  • Collaboration. The ability to work with various teams and to collaborate on projects – even as a junior engineer – is truly important. Sharing ideas for the sake of best practices and collaboration will help ensure a good deployment. Even more important, it’ll enhance team work!

The ability to think on your feet and go far beyond simple troubleshooting within an organization can mean the difference between a desk-job and sought after career advancement. Outside of the common “cloud” computing technology what else is driving this type of demand in today’s business IT world?

The reality is that the logical progression of technologies has not only created the need for articulate engineers and architects – organizations now seek folks who can speak the language of many different technologies. As the data center advances, cloud and data center architects will have to learn about the various components that make up a solid data center infrastructure. This means understanding some of the following technologies:

  • Unified, converged and high-density computing.
  • Various types of network and WAN connection best practices.
  • End-user management and security.
  • IT consumerization and BYOD controls.
  • Data management, replication and even analytics.
  • Understanding around various cloud models, APIs, and deployment strategies.
  • Disaster recovery, business continuity, and backup.
  • Global server and traffic management.
  • Data center design best practices and efficiencies.

The modern data center, in reality, can be considered the home of the cloud. We can no longer think of the data center as stand-alone physical unit. These data warehouses and processing centers are creating massive connectivity points for an ever-expanding Internet and cloud environment. Today’s data center is really a logical connection point to many other data centers and the services that they may be running.

Cloud and data center architects of tomorrow need to understand how this vast environment all functions together and how it affects the end-user. One of the biggest challenges for the new breed of engineers is designing an environment around one very important business and technology aspect: mobility. The ability to be agile, very mobile and provide on-demand services are becoming standard requirements for many data center providers.

Not only will engineers and architects need to have the ability to communicate, they will need to know about many different technologies which directly affect the modern data center. These IT professionals will often act as the liaison between numerous different, still very important, business stakeholders. This means translating user and executive needs into direct IT solutions. For those professionals that can do this – there will be a need for them, both now and in the future.

About the Author

Bill Kleyman is a veteran, enthusiastic technologist with experience in data center design, management and deployment. His architecture work includes virtualization and cloud deployments as well as business network design and implementation. Currently, Bill works as the National Director of Strategy and Innovation at MTM Technologies, a Stamford, CT based consulting firm.

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