Monthly Archives: June 2014

Evolution of the IT Pro (staying relevant in 2014 and beyond)

Bob-the-BuilderSummary: The IT function is becoming a broker of services but, until that happens, infrastructure engineers will likely to fall into the ‘builder broker’ camp – you’ll need to be able to ‘stitch together’ different services but you’ll also need to build them and understand what’s ‘under the hood’.

For a few years now infrastructure engineers have been hearing how cloud computing is going to change their jobs, potentially putting many out of work. Plenty has been written about whether this will result in a net gain or loss of IT jobs (here, here, and here plus in one my first blogposts I talked about changing roles) but whatever your stance it’s undeniable that the nature of IT jobs will change – technology never stands still for long.

This isn’t theoretical or a shift that’ll start in ten years – changes are happening right now.

Gartner recently identified ‘IT as a service broker’ in their top ten technology trends for 2014 and I’d agree with those that say skills such as virtualisation are no longer enough. Here’s a few things I’ve being asked for in the last few months which is why I’m adding my voice to the ‘service broker’ trend;

  • Knowledge of alternative virtualisation/cloud platforms. “Should we be considering Hyper-V? Openstack? Oracle VM?”
  • How can we integrate Amazon’s VPC with our internal dev/test environments?
  • If we buy into a third parties managed services, what’s the impact on our production platform and technology roadmap?

The news columns are filling up with articles about changing skillsets;

Still not convinced? VMware’s flagship cloud product, vCAC, exists to orchestrate resources across multiple clouds from AWS, RackSpace, Azure and others so this talk of ‘brokering’ across heterogeneous systems is also where VMware see the future.

The requirement for inhouse engineering expertise isn’t going to disappear overnight so you’ve got time to adjust, but for many the future may be more about integrating services together than building them.

How do you stay relevant?

That’s the million dollar question isn’t it? I’ve listed my opinions below although for alternative advice Steve Beaver wrote a great article for The Virtualization Practice at the end of last year (“Get off the hypervisor and into the cloud”) which mirrors my thoughts exactly. If I’d read it before writing this I probably wouldn’t have bothered!

  1. Focus on technical expertise. As the industry coalesces towards service providers and consumers the providers need the best people they can find as the impact (at scale) is magnified. Automation is a key trend for this role as self-service is a key tenet of cloud. Luckily, while ‘compute’ has already been disrupted by virtualisation both storage and network are just getting started which will generate demand for those who keep up with technology developments.
  2. Focus on becoming an IT broker. This means getting a wide knowledge of different solutions and architectures (AWS, VMware, OpenStack, understand SOA principles, federation, integration patterns etc) and know how to implement and integrate them. You’ll also have to get closer to the business and be able to translate business requirements such that you can satisfy them via the available services. Some would argue that this is crossing over to the role of a business analyst, and they may be right.

If you’re going to go deep on technology, go work for a vendor, ISP, or big IT consultancy (sooner rather than later).

If you’re going for the broker/business analyst role make sure you’re building up your business knowledge, with less focus on the low level nuts and bolts.

Pick one or the other, but don’t stand still. Taking my own advice I’ve just taken a role with a service provider. Let’s see how this plays out! 🙂

Moving to pastures new – ‘old’ Jersey!

St Brelade's BaySt Brelade's BaySummary: I’m moving to a small island where I’ll be working for an offshore service provider, so my perspective (and hence my blog’s content) might change.

I’m a believer in keeping my blog professional and avoiding personal posts but it’s been a while since my last post so I thought it was worth a quick explanation. I’ve been living in London for the best part of the last 15 years but the time has come for a change of scene. My family is growing (number two is due in early September) and my wife and I had never planned to stay in London forever – so from mid July this year, it’s all change. I’m moving to Jersey in the Channel Islands – it’s where my wife’s from and where her family are, along with many friends she’s stayed in touch with. Moving from one of the largest cities in Europe (with a population of 9 million) to a small island measuring nine miles by five (population 95,000) is going to require quite a shift in thinking. Hence the lack of blogposts – kiddie number two on the way, selling our London house, buying a house in Jersey, finding a new job, and planning a relocation to another country is all pretty time consuming!
NOTE: For those that are wondering this is ‘old’ Jersey, NOT New Jersey in the US! 

Of course it also means my professional focus may shift. I’ve accepted a job with an offshore service provider so I’m moving away from my roots as an end user and moving to the other side of the fence. Will this affect my blog? Probably. I’ll still try to be objective and impartial but everyone’s opinions are formed via their experience and my day to day experience (with both customers and technology) is going to change. My new company includes vCloud, Desktone (DaaS), and Zerto (for DRaaS)  in their portfolio, all of which I’m keen to get more experience with. Jersey has a thriving business community, largely due to it’s advantageous tax regime (which is a discussion for another day) and I expect to have plenty to blog about. With a second young child, a new job, and a new country to familiarise myself with whether I have any time to blog is another matter! 🙂

Despite the small geography and somewhat remote location I hope social media will keep me firmly in touch with (and part of) the community I’ve been enjoying for the last few years. Thanks for reading! 🙂