The December Cloud Job Update: Big Data, Applications, and Security

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As the cloud landscape evolves, new skills are required to navigate. (Illustration: Dreamstime, Jeff Gunderman)

As the cloud landscape evolves, new skills are required to navigate. (Illustration: Dreamstime, Jeff Gunderman)

Cloud computing continues to evolve at a near blistering pace. As more compute and bandwidth resources become available, engineers and cloud architects are able to do more with new, robust platforms.

Originally, network, storage and compute engineers worked together to build massive cloud components. These IT professionals helped create the building blocks to today’s modern cloud architect and engineer.

Although we still have dedicated data center professionals overlooking physical infrastructure, the field around cloud disciplines continues to grow. Dedicated cloud experts now focus in on specific areas of cloud computing and information delivery. As cloud continues to evolve, so will the skilled workers that support it. Here’s a look at the trends driving this evolution of cloud jobs:

  • Big Data and Intelligence. There is a growing need for architects and engineers who understand not just big data, but the correlation and quantitative process behind it all. When the buzz around big data first started, a lot of folks were confused by the concept. Many dismissed the technology as just a marketing term focused around lots of data traversing the WAN. The reality is very much different. With more devices, more connections coming in via the cloud, and more applications delivery through the Internet, there is a lot more valuable data to be analyzed. The power of big data and business intelligence is a powerful combination. Big data engines like Hadoop and MonboDB continue to grow in popularity. However, the solutions like SAS and Oracle Hyperion, and Microsoft BI are creating direct intelligence around massive amounts of data that a corporation may produce. Moving forward, big data isn’t just an idea around a lot of data. Future cloud engineers and architects who focus their time on controlling this information must understand how to create data logic. That means using solid big data engines to gather information and process it all via business intelligence tools.
  • The Application Continues to Advance. The application is becoming even more cloud-centric. New delivery models mean new ways to code and optimize applications. Like the applications, the end-user environment is changing as well. We are no longer as worried with the hardware as we are with how quickly and efficiently we can deliver applications and data. Through this evolution, applications are lighter, easier to deploy and can connect on an entirely new level. APIs are eliminating hops and layers that take up precious compute and networking cycles. New technologies are tying applications directly to the resources that they require. Architects and engineers who focus on the cloud must understand exactly where the application layer is heading. For example, new types of services are allowing applications to seek resources well outside their own data center. In utilizing SDKs and various APIs, services like backend-as-a-service are able to directly integrate various cloud services with both web and mobile applications. Already, there is a broad focus where open platforms aim to support every major platform including iOS, Android, Windows, and Blackberry. Furthermore, the BaaS platform aims to further enhance the mobile computing experience by integrating with cloud-ready hosting vendors like Azure, Rackspace and EC2. Basically, these types of services can give you the back-end while you create the front-end app.
  • Cloud, Data, and Workload Security. There needs to be a sanity check here. Cloud security is no joke and continues to evolve and move forward. The way that applications connect with both data center and cloud resources is changing as well. Some of the main standards now include AES 256-bit encryption and SSL/TLS protocols during transfer and storage of cloud information. Furthermore, enhanced levels of segregation allow for even greater controls of secure resources. More verticals are looking at data and file sharing options. More organizations are examining ways they can remain compliant while still moving their workloads into the cloud. For example, in the healthcare world, Citrix’s The ShareFile Cloud for Healthcare service provides a few slight modifications over its existing platform that make it suitable for use in sending, storing, and sharing protected health information (PHI). By signing a business associate agreement (BAA) and thereby becoming a business associate (BA), Citrix takes on extra liability during the transfer of data over their network. This allows their ShareFile Cloud for Healthcare to be HIPAA compliant. Another example is how far the hybrid cloud platform has come. Originally, to place regulatory or complaint-driven workloads in a public or even hybrid cloud was seen as very difficult. Now, public cloud providers are creating powerful, secure, platform capable of remaining complaint. Cloud providers, like Rackspace, are creating cloud environments capable of PCI/DSS compliance. These types of platforms create extra flexibility and open the doors for more organizations to move to a cloud infrastructure. Cloud security experts must continuously understand how data operates within the cloud and how it can be secured. Modern cloud security requirements span applications, users, devices, big data, file shares and much more. Of all the fields in the cloud category – security continues to evolve very quickly.

The IT field is a great place to be right now. This is especially true if you’re always trying to learn something new. Cloud computing and the rapid evolution of the infrastructure that supports it has created a technology world where stagnation and complacency have absolutely no ground. IT professionals looking to move ahead must not only understand key cloud and infrastructure technologies, they must also apply their knowledge to the business world. One of the most valued assets within a technical person is their ability to understand business challenges and solve them with intelligent IT solutions. So, as you continue learning and understanding all that there is about cloud, never forget the important business drivers where cloud and next-generation technologies can help.

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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