How Cloud is Redefining IT Job Roles

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Cloud is changing business and IT operating models. That means core IT job roles must change too.

A couple of obvious roles emerging are cloud architect and cloud security specialist.

Cloud architects must understand enterprise architecture and service-oriented architecture (SOA) as well as the new directions that cloud computing can take both. Cloud architects must also have detailed knowledge of Platform, Infrastructure, and Software as a Service (PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS), including the players and solutions that are available on the market. This means working with developers and existing IT leadership to progress toward the use of cloud computing, making the right decisions along the way.

Cloud security specialist is perhaps the most important role and skillset in moving to the cloud. Cloud security specialists must understand the new security models and how to enable the security technology required to keep business processes effective and efficient and data moving to and between private, public, or hybrid clouds.

The role of network engineer is changing into cloud engineer. Classic network engineers implement, maintain, optimize, and provide operational support for network hardware, software, and communication links of the cloud infrastructure. These IT staff managers and members have deep, CCNA-level expertise in networking hardware and protocols. Cloud migration is less product-specific and requires more analytical skills coupled with that deep technology knowledge. Today’s network engineers—make that cloud engineers—need a broad understanding of technology and systems, along with increased abilities in capacity management, planning, demand forecasting, and trending analysis. Cloud and virtualization essentials, virtualized infrastructure, and hosted solutions are key new areas of focus.

The other side of IT—application development—is changing too. New applications and development systems are what drive cloud computing. Those who design and develop application software now focus on mobile applications and development for cloud, or SaaS. Development in and on the cloud—PaaS—means entirely new mandates for developers: creating self-provisioning and self-monitoring applications.

Perl, PHP, Python, Java, C programming languages, Oracle, SQL, MySQL, and all the existing tools and techniques are shifting. Cloud development is AJAX, HTML, XML, REST, cloud networking, and operating system APIs. New knowledge, skills, and abilities here span DevOps, cloud essentials, virtualization essentials, virtual machines, cloud system management tools, orchestration tools, heightened security, and distributed architecture of platforms. Software developers are now cloud developers.

Let us not forget the front line of IT: those in customer-facing support roles. Foundational help desk and service support skills and methods are shifting as well. These critical IT members must support remote workers, BYOD at a variety of locations, and cloud-based applications with limited control and visibility. Now they need to integrate social media support models, and they must have additional skills required to support multiple technologies in multiple configurations in multiple environments, including virtual. Enhanced communications, troubleshooting, and relationship skills are core to support success. Support analysts are now cloud support analysts.

It doesn’t stop there. All IT roles are affected:

  • Systems administrators and/or database administrators become cloud administrators
  •  Service managers (aka ITIL people) become cloud service managers
  • Project managers become cloud project managers

Because of cloud, IT leaders have not only technology issues, but also managerial issues. Consider onboarding, career development, and advancement at your organization. Have all your job descriptions been updated and regraded accordingly? As managers ask employees to move to new ways of working and refine what and how they work, are the compensation and supervisory support systems keeping pace? Have managers been working with HR to ensure they’re hiring and promoting the right skills?

And, what about the manager’s skills? Are IT leaders ready and able to lead a team through this transformation? Perhaps one last new cloud computing role is in order: cloud transformation specialist.

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