Bill Kleyman is a virtualization and cloud solutions architect at MTM Technologies where he works extensively with data center, cloud, networking, and storage design projects. You can find him on LinkedIn.
In ‘Part 1’ of this conversation, we examined traits and personality demands being placed on the current IT workforce. Knowing how to communicate effectively and "think outside of the data center" are both important as we move into a world of cloud computing and data center distribution. Beyond personality shifts, hiring managers and organizations are looking for engineers and administrators to become jacks-of-all-trades. This doesn’t mean being an absolute expert at all of the technologies out there. However, new demands are showing that executives are looking for engineers who have a solid understanding of multiple platforms within a given environment. As more groups communicate together, we are seeing an increase in mixed team meetings where, for example, facilities folks are sitting in for LAN discussions. Or, SAN engineers are sitting in meetings with the WAN team.
The emergence of virtualization, cloud computing and a distributed infrastructure has created a new breed of engineers capable of discussing various technologies – even those outside of their immediate field of expertise.
- Local Area Network architecture. Regardless of the team, it’s important to know how a LAN is designed and deployed. For certain types of workloads and projects, deploying QoS, integrating proper switching and even wiring all play a significant role. Administrators should know how a LAN infrastructure affects their area.
- Understanding WAN sizing. In today’s distributed environment, data centers are connected and passing large amounts of traffic continuously. This means knowing how bandwidth plays a role and the affects of latency. Administrators should know how their data center is setup and the demands placed on the WAN link.
- Know how storage plays a role. Resources are finite and can be expensive. When designing a solution, storage will usually play a role within the environment. Whether it’s a cloud deployment, a new database or a consolidation effort – efficient use of storage is a big plus.
- Know and understand cloud computing. This is one of the biggest buzz terms currently in the industry. Remember, from a high level, cloud computing means the transfer of data over the Wide Area Network. This new technology has created new offerings, more efficient environments and has increased the capabilities of a data center. There are many types of cloud offerings. IT professionals need to know what cloud computing is and how it can potentially affect their organization.
- Virtualization is everywhere – know it. Almost every IT environment will have some kind of virtualization. In today’s infrastructure, we are no longer limited to just server virtualization. With more hardware capabilities and better tools on hand, we are seeing the bigger emergence of both desktop and application virtualization practices. Professionals must understand basic concepts around virtualization technologies and the possible new efficiencies this type of platform can introduce.
- Know the applications and workloads. IT folks need to know what they are delivering and how certain applications will work with in an environment. Does an app require special bandwidth? How will storage be affected? Are there latency considerations? Do we need to worry about end-user experience? All of these questions can span multiple teams. However, having a good understanding of the workload being delivering will help managers and administrators during their design, deployment and maintenance phases.
- Study end-user needs and demands. Although not a specific technology, having a clear understanding of what the end-user needs is crucial. Many great projects have failed because the end-user experience was saved for last. Engineers and IT professionals need to take this experience into account. Simply asking the question “How will the end-user apply this technology and is it easy?” will help alleviate many headaches. Using information provided by the end-user in how they use a specific technology allows engineers to design a solution which will directly fit a need.
- Learn about security. Arguably the first or second question that asked when discussing cloud computing and virtualization will revolve around security. Cloud computing security practices can be broken down into three levels: Security at the end-point; Security in the middle; and Security at the data center.
By understanding environmental requirements, engineers are able to answer security questions. IT professionals should have a good understanding around security best-practices and how to best deploy those practices within their organization.
The reality here is that this list can go on for several more pages. When working within an organization, it’s always important to know how new technologies are being deployed and how they can affect your area. For example, a new virtualization platform can have implications for a facilities team in terms of rack-space, cooling and even power demands. More hiring managers are looking for individuals who are familiar with a wider array of technologies and who have an understanding of how these technologies can affect the business process.
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