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Clouds ahead: What an IT career will look like five years out

Paul Heltzel | Sept. 9, 2015
IT infrastructure is increasingly giving way to the cloud. Here's how to remain relevant in the years ahead

This is where the cloud's supposed push-button simplicity gives way to a key facet of IT work in the years to come: the ability to navigate the complexity of intermixed cloud environments.

Steve Shah, VP of product management, Citrix
"As these projects will span across both on-prem and cloud resources, the legal aspects of data privacy, data sovereignty, and cryptography -- who has access to keys -- will all come into play as much as IT engineering." -- Steve Shah, VP of product management, Citrix

"The more complex and interconnected these cloud environments become, the higher amount of a general understanding and knowledge of how it all works together will be required from IT teams," Matthews says. "IT will still need someone who understands and specializes in certain aspects like storage. These departments will also need their personnel to understand how storage works across an entire complex cloud environment and the different aspects of what that relational environment entail. The days of simple technology verticals are over. If you want to build it, maintain it, or fix it, you have to be able to see and understand how it all connects together."

Projecting the future

Some experts see the cloud benefiting the IT department by paving the way for staffers to expand their roles, doing more development work, coding, tying systems together, and creating flexible applications that resemble platforms.

"For a long time, a lot of what went into making the business successful was the meat-and-potatoes tasks like racking and stacking," says ExtraHop's Matthews. "But the transition away from those traditional ops tasks has already happened. Today, the most important thing IT can do for the business is to configure devices and applications to maximize performance, control access, and ensure that devices, systems, and applications are secure."

VMware's Lodge sees a shift in philosophy, where IT collaborates with the business side to choose what applications are needed, then supports those applications and ensures compliance.

"[IT staff] will become the 'ops' part of 'devops' because development teams don't want to do ops -- they want to develop code," Lodge says. "So there will be a cross-pollination between development and IT operations, with IT teams becoming much more application- and developer-savvy, and dev teams understanding the impacts of development choices on operations."

Steve Shah, VP of product management at Citrix, sees a rising need for security skills in the years to come, given IT's expanding role in development and automation projects.

"As these projects will span across both on-prem and cloud resources," Shah says, "the legal aspects of data privacy, data sovereignty, and cryptography -- who has access to keys -- will all come into play as much as IT engineering."

 

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