How to build a career in cloud computing

Basic IT skills topped off with service management finesse and business know-how are good starting points

By  Cloud Computing

Cloud computing skills

Developing continued expertise in one or more of the following IT areas will better prepare IT professionals for a role in cloud projects

  • Systems administration, with an emphasis on virtualization
  • Storage networking
  • Virtual switching
  • Services management - a la the IT Infrastructure Library framework - and orchestration
  • Business-IT alignment
  • Software-as-a-service management
  • Data analytics, data warehousing, master data management
  • Information security, compliance, data integrity
  • Cloud platforms (from players such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft)

But that doesn’t mean IT professionals looking for their next strategic career step should seek out cloud-specific titles. Those will be hard, if not impossible, to find, experts say.

"Cloud is a convenient term to encompass an emerging set of business and technology models, but in and of itself it’s not a role," says Jimmy Harris, managing director of cloud computing at Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company.

If a company is going to embrace a cloud computing model, it’ll need IT professionals capable of handling service management, for example. They’ll be charged with defining service sets, determining their performance characteristics and assembling the components necessary for delivery. "So service manager is a role, but not ‘cloud’ service manager," he says. "The cloud is just part of things."

To put it another way, "If you don't find ‘cloud’ in the title, you will definitely find specific pieces and parts of the cloud in a job description. You’ll find things like, ‘Do you have exposure to Microsoft Azure, Amazon, Google and virtualization? What have you done from systems administration, networking, storage and code perspectives?’" Garner says.

Agreed, says Dan Shipley, data center architect for Supplies Network, an IT consumables wholesaler in St. Charles, Mo.

While Supplies Network has developed a private cloud using Xsigo’s virtual I/O technology and expects to move to a hybrid model at some point, IT hasn’t designated "cloud manager" or some such as a job title, he says. Rather, it’s added associated responsibilities to some existing titles and is requiring lots of education and training on the company’s cloud’s fabric and virtualization platform, Shipley says.

This mirrors what Robert Half Technology sees among its clients, says John Reed, district president with the worldwide IT employment firm.

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