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How to move into a cloud career from traditional IT

David Linthicum | Aug. 15, 2017
From architects to developers, there is a path from traditional IT to the gold-plated jobs in the cloud.

Again, the trick is to look at what’s hot in the cloud platform your target enterprises use, and then obtain those specific skills. Database generalists need not apply for most of the newer cloud gigs.


Software developer: the path to the cloud

Software development is perhaps the most versatile skill to have, because you can code on pretty much any platform. However, in the cloud, it pays to have a deep understanding of a specific public cloud, because you’ll need to understand and be able to create cloud-native applications.

Being “cloud-native” means that you’re embedding native cloud platform calls directly into the application, such as security services, queues, I/O services, and the management of provisioning and deprovisioning of resources. The use of these calls requires you to both have a detailed understanding of the programming language you use and understand what native interfaces to use where, how, and why.


System administrators: the path to the cloud

System admins will see the most changes in the move to the cloud. If you don’t make a move now, you could likely be out of a job in the near future. Sysadmin roles are changing because the systems that reside in data centers are finding their way into public clouds, and public cloud systems don’t need as much TLC as on-premises systems do.

For a sysadmin, the cloud career map means moving into cloud operations, aka cloudops. This is a new role in cloud operations, and it includes backup, recovery, performance monitoring, SLA management, and all of the fun stuff that comes along with operating sets of cloud-based virtual servers that you’ll never lay your hands on—and perhaps will never know where they are located.


Test-and-acceptance engineer: the path to the cloud

Test-and-acceptance engineers do not have a clean path to the cloud. So, you’ll have a lot to learn and relearn if you want to stay marketable. The best map to the cloud is to understand devops as it relates to cloud. This includes continuous testing, and that means creating testing scripts and becoming an SME in automated testing practices and tools.

If you’re that type of test-and-acceptance pro who is comfortable with remapping skills to this kind of very different role, you’ll be fine. However, if you’re accustomed to just test and record, and you can’t work and play well with new processes and technology, you’ll be quickly voted off the island.


Networking engineer: the path to the cloud

Networking pros are also difficult map to the cloud. Although networking is still needed, it’s mostly intercompany rather than intracompany. That means a transition toward WANs (wide area networking) and mobile networking.


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