Mitch Irsfeld

TechNet Flash, Volume 13, Issue 17 - August 10, 2011
TechNet Flash Editor's Note from Mitch Irsfeld

Align Your Skills to Meet the New Demand

Where do you invest to make sure your career is future-proof in a field where change is a constant? In the current TechNet feature package, we look at what the future holds, not only from our own perspective, but also from broader industry sources.

In his TechNet Magazine article Bulletproof Your IT Career, Romi Mahajan outlines a six-step approach to overcoming the common obstacles to reaching your potential. You likely know the barriers: everything from being asked to do more with less to unrecognized value - but Mahajan provides an approach that could serve you well to follow.

If you're not satisfied with merely solidifying your career, check out Develop Your Brand, the excerpt from Jay and Maggie Jessup's "Fame 101" in TechNet Magazine, and learn how to work the formula for becoming and remaining famous. The section on creating and maintaining your personal brand talks about owning your image and effectively promoting it. Your goal doesn't have to be movie star or U.S. president. This formula shows you the path to achieving your maximum personal potential.

OK, that's some great advice, but where should you focus these days on developing new skills? Going back to those trends we touched on at the top: bandwidth, processing power, and the consumerization of information technology with the new generation of devices and social networking, we perceive a key intersection for IT - and it takes the form of cloud computing. IDC predicts that by 2014, more than one-third of software purchases will be delivered through the cloud.

Moving to the cloud requires new skills. We've covered some of this in past TechNet feature packages, in particular, Refresh Your IT Skills for the Cloud (Mar 21, 2011) and General IT; Skills Curriculum (Aug 23, 2010). But this technology is moving fast, and we're learning more about the IT requirements as it is deployed and managed.

We know from Microsoft's Cloud Computing as an Engine of Growth study, an online survey of IT decision-makers, that more than half the national respondents say that they are hiring as a result of cloud services. And more than half again say cloud computing is an opportunity for IT to be more strategic.

David Linthicum, CTO at Blue Mountain Labs, points out in his New Roles and Skills for Cloud Computing that now is the time to "put some lines in the sand around what skills are required as the cloud creeps into our IT universe." He uses a role-based approach to defining what skills are needed.

In the write-up on its annual U.S. IT salary survey, InformationWeek provides some insight on the new roles, with one of the interviewed CIOs saying the cloud has changed his requirements and that he needs his IT pros to be more entrepreneurial, more connected to the business, and to be perceived as trusted advisors.

IT pros who can adapt can expect a payoff. In Network World's Steer Your Career to the Cloud, Linthicum says that "rank-and-file IT professionals will discover it's advantageous to their careers to learn about those cloud systems before they appear in the enterprise. They'll be rewarded for that - finding cloud-knowledgeable people is difficult today. There are probably 50 cloud jobs chasing one candidate. That'll drive salaries up, and people's value within the company will go up, too. Plus they'll be able to hold onto positions for longer periods of time."

See Network World's 10 Cloud Career Skills for more on what it takes to meet that high demand.

The Federal government is also stepping up. With so many agencies trying to adapt to realize the benefits offered by cloud computing, TechAmerica Foundation's Commission on the Leadership Opportunity in U.S. Deployment of the Cloud has made a series of recommendations in its report titled Cloud First, Cloud Fast: Recommendations for Innovation, Leadership, and Job Creation.

With the realization that "the responsibilities of IT workforces will expand to manage new cloud capabilities; within cloud customers, the IT expertise needed will evolve as activities such as operations, maintenance, and development are shared or shifted to cloud providers," the report recommends that "government, industry, and academia should develop and disseminate resources for major stakeholder communities to be educated on the technical, business, and policy issues around acquisition, deployment and operation of cloud services."

So where do you turn to position your career for the next wave? Microsoft Cloud Services Training and Certification is good place to begin. We recommend that you start by building skills that apply to both on-premises computing and cloud computing. This site provides guidance on the courses and exams to upgrade your skills and keep pace.

Going back to the points made by the Jessups in Develop Your Brand, as you develop the expertise, it's always a good move to gain recognition. One the easiest ways to get recognized as an expert is to take part in notable forums, portals, and wikis. Check out the Microsoft Private Cloud Dojo and join in developing the community-authored content. Or join the industry portal Cloud Nation. Every member has their own blog, and they provide an educational curriculum.

Up to this point, much of the reaction to the impact of cloud computing on IT jobs has been one of trepidation. But the reality is starting to show that the real impact may present itself as opportunity. New skills and new ways of thinking about IT may be required, but that's nothing new for a profession that seems to reinvent itself every other decade.

Thanks for reading,

Mitch Irsfeld
Editor, TechNet Flash

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