Essential IT skills to succeed in the cloud world
By Joseph Foran, Contributor, SearchCloudComputing.com 28-May-2010
Cloud computing, with multitudes of corporate players, enormous growth, and multifaceted technologies, necessitates a high degree of proficiency in order for a person to be a successful IT pro in the new world of cloud computing.
This set of skills can be as varied as the species of insects in a tropical rainforest: Hiring managers must determine what skills are must-haves, while human resource professionals need to understand the difficulties in balancing technical resumes in comparison to non-technical resumes. This variety of skills and understanding of the cloud also touches deeply into marketing, sales, advertising and other business functions. These folks must have a different level of technical understanding in order to properly do their jobs supporting cloud-based businesses.
|The ability to competently rework entire networks on the fly is a crucial skill for any network administrator in a cloud environment.|
The skills needed to be successful in the cloud world are even more diverse than the varieties of cloud technologies. The good news is most of the technology is the same, but the layers are becoming more intertwined.
Systems administration in a cloud environment is, like most enterprise technologies, a diverse task that is often deconstructed and assigned to different people with specialized roles. Because, like in the enterprise, the cloud technologies are heavily interrelated in operations and design, these specialists should have a solid understanding of all the technologies that surround the specialists' layer. Aside from raw hardware, there are four basic layers of technology skills that make up a cloud environment, each with Ogre-like layers within. These are:
1. The network layer
2. The virtualization layer
3. The operating system layer
4. The application layer
The network layer
The network layer requires a solid understanding of the foundations: TCP/IP, DNS, and associated technologies like load balancing and NTP. Switching and routing are core functions of any network environment (and are no less important to the cloud) but above and beyond the basics is load balancing. A cloud environment is often one of the most complicated networks in existence, especially when that cloud environment is supporting hosting at a company like Rackspace, GoGrid, or Amazon.
The ability to competently rework entire networks on the fly is a crucial skill for any network admin in a cloud environment, and it is made all the more difficult by the large and complex load balancing rules necessitated by a multihomed network with numerous ISP connections to the Internet, numerous network devices and numerous core network devices. Having Cisco, F5, and Juniper expertise is a must, and having certifications to back up those skills is a huge plus.
Networking is also important to storage. While not a layer of cloud computing itself, shared storage, over IP or over proprietary protocols, depends heavily on networking and network principles. With the growth of iSCSI-based storage, the lines between storage and networking are considerably less obvious than they were when Fibre Channel was the undisputed king of shared storage. With the impending 10 GB Ethernet explosion just beginning to touch the industry, iSCSI will only gain further traction; thus understanding the network-dependent nature of iSCSI is a critical skill.