Cloud careers: It's a seller's market

Christine Burns

"Job seekers in traditional IT roles looking to advance themselves either internally or by moving out in this very favorable market need to repackage themselves with some level of cross-training," says Alice Hill, managing director of Dice.com. Hill says this cross-training can come from both external classes and certification programs or by seeking out on-the-job cloud project experience, especially if it's outside the scope of their existing job description.

Server virtualization vendors from Microsoft to VMware -- and every Linux-based derivative in between -- as well as wildly successful proprietary IaaS providers like Amazon and more open organizations like OpenStack have accessible training programs. These programs can help cross-train network staff about hypervisor internals and server administrators on why OpenStack's Quantum "networking as a service" project will impact next generation cloud deployments.

Capgemini's Coyle thinks good job candidates, from a practical standpoint, only need to have one flavor of formal vendor-specific training in each of the cloud platform segments. For example, if a DevOps candidate has picked up a certification in VMware, "it is a good indication that he's got an understanding on how a virtualization platform operates and can work on the job to apply that across a hybrid cloud where other hypervisor software is in use," Coyle says. Likewise, if she understands how Rackspace runs its IaaS platform, she can map that to Amazon's offering.

NaviSite's Grimes suggests that IT professionals should be selective regarding their cross-training. "Say you are a solid Linux system engineer and you want to dive into networking, you could work on a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) to get a broad understanding of networking and acquire a good base of skills. But going for, say the CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert), is going to put you too far up the Cisco stack, which would be overboard for this purpose," Grimes says.

Paolo advises that senior IT management can push the idea of cross training along by merging teams of complementary disciplines, like system administrators and network administrators, for example. "It also makes sense to seed these teams of seasoned professionals with recent college graduates who are more open to cloud computing and can be trained in this cross-discipline environment from the start," Paolo says.

Grimes warns that IT management must be watching for potential turf animosities and suggests nipping them in the bud with cross-discipline design sessions that both open the lines of communication and reinforce the message that the company is determined to break down traditional vertical IT divides.

Mark Herbert, CTO at intY, a UK-based cloud services aggregator that runs its U.S. business out of Florida, argues that while cross-training is a good idea, only hands-on cloud work can provide data centric personnel with the flow and pressures of working in a non-stop services environment that defines cloud computing.

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