The Cloud Job Market Update: SDN and APIs Are Hot

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We last explored the cloud job market about a year ago. As we know in IT, a year is pretty much an eternity. In the past year, much has changed in the world of the cloud. We began to see more technologies connecting various cloud points, new ways to optimize the platform, and entirely new delivery methods. Through 2013, we have crossed the zettabyte cloud era and, according to Cisco, two-thirds of all traffic moving forward will be delivered via the cloud.

My last article around the cloud computing job arena discussed key considerations for the modern cloud engineer. These included:

  • Local Area Network architecture.
  • Understanding WAN sizing.
  • Know how storage plays a role.
  • Know and understand cloud computing.
  • Virtualization is everywhere – know it.
  • Know the applications and workloads.
  • Study end-user needs and demands.
  • Learn about security.

Although these areas are still important, cloud computing is quickly becoming a normal part of our daily compute process. In fact, trends show that “cloud architect” is still a field that’s hot and in demand. Another article from late last year clearly shows this trend and the demands for more cloud staff.

There are more services being delivered via the cloud, there are more users using the cloud, and organizations are leveraging more cloud delivery platforms for their users. The digitization of the modern data center has created the need for even more robust services and control methods.

And so, the cloud job market and the demands being placed around today’s cloud architect or engineer must evolve as well. Here’s what’s hot this year:

  • Software-Defined Technologies (SDN). Although software-defined networking (SDN) is a huge part of the cloud computing conversation – it’s the general idea of software-defined technologies which must be understood. Software-defined platforms aim to take cloud computing and the process through which it communicates at the data center, user and cloud layer to the next level. Basically SDN and related technologies aim to abstract the network, compute, storage and even security components of a modern cloud infrastructure. We’re seeing this trend continue to grow as some of the biggest cloud infrastructure shops are adopting or investing in the technology. Take VMware for example. In buying Nicira, a leading player in SDN for $1.26 billion, VMware positioned itself to boost its place not only within data center networking, but also within the cloud SDN model. This network virtualization platform is a pretty hot technology. Current users include AT&T, eBay, Rackspace and several others. Future cloud engineers and architects will need to understand how SDN and software-defined technologies play a role within the cloud model. They’ll need to understand the optimizations, benefits, and architectural aspects of SDN so that they can assist their organization to stay ahead of the competition.
  • Cloud APIs. There are more cloud platforms emerging and new types of services being tied around these models. As more organizations and users flock to the cloud, the modern cloud API structure becomes even more important. Beyond that, the actual “stack” platform which ties cloud models together becomes an integral piece as well. In two recent articles we discussed why APIs are so important and who the big leaders are in the industry. For the future cloud engineer or architect, understanding how stack platforms and cloud APIs tie into the overall cloud architecture is absolutely crucial. Organizations such as CloudStack are blazing the way for massive service providers to deliver powerful cloud platforms. Or a stack model built around the Eucalyptus cloud allows organizations to create a truly transparent, automated, cloud solution. The point is that we’re creating an environment which is interconnecting various cloud components. Whether the actual instance is located onsite or at an outside data center, there is a direct need for visibility and easy data transfer between multiple cloud locations. Cloud engineers and architects must understand how APIs function and how they can help connect the cloud into a logical, easy to control, cluster.
  • New Cloud Delivery Models (Fog). One of my very recent articles welcomes you to the world of Fog computing. It’s the idea of delivering heavy content to the user very quickly by storing information at the edge. Furthermore, this technology can be applied to technologies like streaming, content delivery and even big data analytics. By creating powerfully distributed cloud nodes, administrators are able to control he delivery process of new types of services. Aside from fog ,cloud computing continues to evolve in how the user consumes data and how this data will be delivered. Because of IT consumerization and the increase of data in the cloud, there is a direct need to optimize the delivery of information. Here’s the important part: the trends around the user and cloud utilization are not going away. In fact, they’re increasing. The cloud engineer or architect of tomorrow will have to understand content delivery and how to best optimize the user experience. In some cases, this may mean designed a complex edge delivery network. In other cases, new types of delivery models may need to be applied.
  • From generalist to expert. Once a technology entrenches itself firmly within our field, we see more engineers and architects go from overall generalists to concept experts. One of the first things to understand is that there will always be the need to have a solid overall understanding of how both cloud and the underlying infrastructure operate. There will also be the requirement that cloud architects and engineers are knowledgeable with how to best deploy a cloud model and what the user experience will be like. However, with the evolution of the cloud come some very specific services which now require experts. We are now seeing API, advanced networking, and even optimization experts emerge. Both vendors and organizations are looking for people that can help improve not only the overall cloud experience, but key cloud components as well. With that, future cloud professionals are able to become true generalists as well as develop specific cloud focus areas.

The use of consumer devices, the increase of data within the cloud and the way we, as users, consume cloud-based information continuously drives innovation around the cloud field.  The modern data center has become the home to pretty much all current technological platforms. We’ve got entire solutions and organizations being born directly within the cloud.

This sort of logical progression around technology will dictate how we shape the future of the cloud. However, a few things are certain – the concept of the cloud is not going anywhere and the demands of the end-user will only increase. The future holds more options around resources, bandwidth and even better infrastructure; all key ingredients to even further help cloud computing development.

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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