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IT Jobs: 6 Essential Skills For The Cloud Era

Want to stay relevant in the cloud era's rapidly changing IT job market? Take this expert advice.

A recent Microsoft study predicts that nearly 14 million new jobs will be created worldwide by 2015 as a result of growing cloud computing adoption. Whether you believe that number or not, (and InformationWeek's Rob Preston says it's clearly inflated,) there's no doubt that cloud is reshaping the IT department as we know it.

While cloud computing promises to stimulate the job market, it could be a buzz kill for your marketability as an IT professional. "There's no question cloud computing is generating a whole new breed of job seeker," says Jeff Kaplan, founder and managing director of THINKstrategies, an IT strategic consulting firm. "What this new world is about is fundamentally different than the old IT world."

Kaplan suggests the following six ways to keep your feet firmly planted in an IT career as more and more companies adopt cloud computing models.

1. Sharpen your assessment skills.

The first step in reaching for the cloud is identifying the right cloud computing vendor. It's a tricky task that calls for careful assessment of a provider's products and services. "In the old IT world, IT professionals were the folks who rolled out the technology and made it work within their own unique environments," says Kaplan. "However, in this brave new world, they're now evaluating third-party services to determine whether they will fit a company's business needs."

[ Nobody ever said cloud projects would be painless. See 4 Cloud Computing Pain Points That Still Hurt. ]

2. Act as a systems integrator.

Just because you've reached for the cloud doesn't mean there isn't any internal tweaking to be done. "Most organizations have legacy systems and software already installed in-house," says Kaplan. "As a result, IT people will still be required to see how these new cloud resources will integrate with those existing systems, software, and data sources." Knowing how to integrate new cloud capabilities with existing resources and being able to move data around are invaluable skills in today's cloud landscape, according to Kaplan.

3. Think like a CEO.

Cloud computing's popularity isn't just about implementing cool technology. According to Kaplan, it's a strong reaction to IT professionals' stereotypical lack of business acumen and slow-to-react reflexes. "IT has too often been centered on technology and not geared towards reacting to the business needs of its end users and enterprises." That's all the more reason, says Kaplan, for today's IT professionals to be more responsive and proactive to technology glitches and business problems alike in a cloud computing environment.

4. Get certified.

Blogs, websites, and trade journals can teach you plenty about the ins and outs of cloud computing. But if you're still confused, Kaplan says there are a growing number of certification courses from cloud vendors like Amazon, Rackspace, Google, and Salesforce. What's more, says Kaplan, "There are shifts in terms of some of the languages that are hot and relevant to this new space...especially because a lot of these applications are being moved to the web."

5. Brush up on being a one-person cloud provider.

Are you shopping for cloud providers? Well, don't be surprised if your employer comes to you asking that you create a private cloud instead. "IT professionals in larger enterprises may be asked to restructure or redesign their own data centers to emulate the best practices of cloud leaders," warns Kaplan.

6. Consider yourself an internal service provider.

Because cloud computing environments often rely on a performance-based architecture, Kaplan says that IT professionals skilled in tracking and distributing cloud computing resources will be in high demand. "There have to be monitoring and management capabilities built in to measure, meter, and possibly charge back for services on a performance basis," says Kaplan. Knowing how to manage these on-tap services is key to building a successful cloud environment--and perhaps to keeping your job.

Join us for the InformationWeek & Network Computing virtual event, Delivering IT Services With A Private Cloud. When you attend, you will be able to access live and on-demand webcast presentations and virtual exhibit spaces packed with free resources, and you can also be eligible to win great prizes! It happens March 15. (Free registration required.)

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User Rank: Apprentice
3/20/2012 | 4:12:31 AM
re: IT Jobs: 6 Essential Skills For The Cloud Era
I like number three, which really could be extended beyond the cloud to other areas of IT as well.
Brian Prince, InformationWeek/Dark Reading Comment Moderator
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