Working in IT requires a continual process of learning new skills as technologies emerge or evolve. Yet, because of the vast variety of skills available to choose from, it’s important to spend time researching all options to ensure that the skills you end up acquiring are both interesting and valuable for your professional career.
Looking at hot IT infrastructure skills beginning in 2022, I can see some patterns forming. For one, the need for scripting, AI and other automation processes is at an all-time high. From an infrastructure perspective, learning to deploy and manage tools that ingest and intelligently analyze data is a top priority now.
It’s also no surprise that skills rooted in data security are highly desired. This includes the expansion of popular security frameworks into clouds and data centers in addition to skills that help to secure complex hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
Finally, a third skill pattern likely to be seen in 2022 will be competencies needed to deploy and manage new and emerging technologies such as private 5G and IoT.
Let’s dive into a bit more detail regarding which skills I think are or will be important for IT infrastructure professionals to learn:
1. Advanced Cloud Networking
The configuration of advanced network settings within infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud can be dramatically different from one cloud platform to the next. Popular cloud providers including AWS and Microsoft Azure use different terminology and processes when it comes to designing, deploying, and maintaining network services according to proprietary best-practice guidelines.
In addition to learning the core networking services for each cloud provider, advanced networking within the enterprise also includes the need to understand and deploy multi-cloud management platforms that are overlaid across multiple clouds. While multi-cloud management can indeed simplify the control and visibility of hybrid/multi-cloud architectures, having a thorough understanding of how the overlay software interacts with each cloud provider’s infrastructure at a networking level is critically important from a performance and data security perspective.
As enterprise IT architectures grow increasingly complex with multiple software layers to peer into and analyze, the use of artificial intelligence to sift through and make sense of all the data is quickly becoming a necessity. On the infrastructure front, AI for IT operations (AIOps) platforms are a way to leverage AI to analyze network traffic for performance and/or data security related issues.
To properly deploy and manage an AIOps platform into a corporate network, it’s best that administrators have solid foundations in the following areas:
· Network/device health monitoring
· Network performance/security data collection
· Automation/scripting techniques
· Interpreting analyzed data into actionable remediation steps
3. Zero Trust for Secure Workloads
Most IT infrastructure professionals understand that zero trust is a set of principles that require users and devices to be identified, authenticated, and authorized prior to accessing any corporate resources. What’s missing, however, is the ability to secure backend workloads for processes that communicate and transport sensitive data between servers, data centers and clouds.
Zero-trust workloads will be the next iteration of the zero-trust framework and the skills required to secure, monitor, and troubleshoot workload communications.
Containers have become widely popular in the world of DevOps for several reasons. For one, they’re lightweight, requiring few CPU and memory resources. It’s also easy to move containers between a wide range of data center and cloud environments. Finally, the speed at which containers can be deployed is far superior to alternative deployment options.
The ability to build and publish is only half the battle, however. For IT shops that are at the early stages of container adoption within the DevOps lifecycle, additional skills are needed. These include the modification of existing DevOps workflows to include container processes, streamlining container deployments using custom scripting/automation and skills required to manage containers using orchestration tools.
5. Performance Management
Also, on the DevOps side of the IT house, application administrators that have deep knowledge of application performance management (APM) software will be in high demand. Because DevOps philosophies call for continuous improvement of applications on a consistent basis and within a software development lifecycle (SDLC) framework, manually monitoring app performance and identifying ways to achieve increased speeds and lower latency is no longer effective. Instead, the use of APM tools that automatically monitor/assess applications, identify faults and provide remediation steps is now a “must-have” instead of a “nice-to-have”.
6. Smart Building IoT for Health and Safety
The COVID-19 pandemic has switched up the priorities of many technology projects. An example of a technology that has gained interest as of late is to use IoT to monitor physical building and campus operational technologies (OT) and to run automated environmental checks. This includes the monitoring and intelligent adjustment of heating and air conditioning systems, real-time asset tracking, air quality sensor checks, smart lighting and occupancy counting.
Because many commercial properties remain at low occupancy levels due to so many employees working from home, it is the perfect time to deploy and thoroughly test automated smart building systems with relatively little impact and interference on employees. Technical skills required for these types of smart building services include the operation of various IoT platforms, the deployment and management of monitoring/alerting systems and data extraction and analysis using built-in APIs.
7. Private 5G
While private 5G deployed within the enterprise has garnered enterprise interest for several years, little traction has been made from a production deployment standpoint. However, beginning in 2022 and beyond, expect enterprises to begin deploying private 5G networks within their facilities to address real-world performance and security concerns that Wi-Fi succumbs to. Skills within private 5G not only include the deployment and management of a cellular radio access network (RAN) – but also the ability to integrate the 5G network and network slicing functions into an organization’s existing LAN/WAN infrastructure via quality of service (QoS) translations.