Friday 19 August 2022

How cloud is redirecting technology career paths

Cloud isn't just an in-demand skill -- it is changing the nature of tech responsibilities. 'The IT skillset has evolved to support modernization.'

There's been plenty of discussion about the new types of skills needed to get into the cloud computing game. But the impact on current technology professionals' roles and responsibilities has also been undergoing a significant shift as well. 

Cloud isn't just an in-demand skill -- it is changing the nature of tech responsibilities, industry observers agree. "It has enabled IT roles to focus on efficiencies with provisioning system resources, by allocating only what the task requires and eliminating wasted resources often seen in physical bare-metal deployments," says Ryan Renner, senior associate at Schellman. "Cloud computing virtualizes what was once physical hardware and offers hosted implementation models such as software-defined networking, microservices, container technologies like Kubernetes and Docker, and Infrastructure as a Service." 

IT tasks are elevating, as "many tedious and time-consuming manual tasks like data entry, system and application monitoring and some app development efforts will be taken over by technology solutions," says Scott duFour, global CIO at FLEETCOR. Developers can also "use low-code and no-code tools to get past the basic, remedial process of application development so they can focus on more critical work like building innovative new products or solving problems with the app itself."  

IT "is increasingly relied upon to support companies' migration to the cloud -- for example, moving from on-prem solutions to cloud-based applications, which are increasingly offered as Software-as-a-Service solutions," says Sudhir Mehta, global vice president of transformation solutions at Lexmark International. "The IT skillset has evolved to support this modernization, moving from a capital to an OPEX model, and it requires a variety of technical skills with focus on utilization and scaling capabilities throughout the process."  

While cloud models aren't entirely different in concept, their management, maintenance, and deployment methods look different, Renner says. "In enterprise environments, IT professionals see code repositories with instructions that can deploy and build out an entire network infrastructure at the click of a button or automation that triggers by a defined metric," he says. "From a logical security perspective, cloud computing offers the ability to segment environments at the network level down to the service level where containers and microservices support a specific function or application. Understanding these cloud functions and implementing them securely is a critical and valuable skill in any IT admins kit."    

There are roles or skills that will become more prominent as lower-level tasks are supplanted, duFour points. "As technology continues marching forward and people work remotely or in a hybrid environment, the human touch will become increasingly valuable - it's going to be important to develop soft skills. Thinking critically is innately human and even as AI, automation and other technology have and will replace lower-level tasks, it's essential to use logic, reason and emotion to dream up innovative solutions."   

"Modernization is not a lift and shift," Mehta says. "You need IT professionals to chart the journey step-by-step and developer teams to focus on building and supporting new cloud-native applications." The emphasis, he adds, moves to "leveraging the full capabilities of a cloud solution employing microservices, DevSecOps and modern cloud architecture. At the same time, IT must also have resources to keep the core business running while the transition takes place and to ensure the user experience is seamless and gets better eventually."


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