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Cloud careers: It's a seller's market

Christine Burns | Oct. 8, 2012
IT professionals who have learned to work across traditional borders are the hot ticket in the current cloud-crazy job market.

IT professionals who have learned to work across traditional borders are the hot ticket in the current cloud-crazy job market.

When David Grimes, CTO of managed and cloud service provider NaviSite, based in Andover, Mass., is looking to fill jobs at both the junior and senior level, he's not looking for folks who have stayed centered in a particular professional silo like application development, server management, network engineering or data storage.

Rather, he wants to hire someone who has trained across several of those IT disciplines.

"Moving forward it's going to be difficult to navigate a career in the cloud if you are solely operating within those traditional vertical alignments," Grimes says.

Francesco Paola, vice president at consultancy Cloud Technology Partners, explains that burgeoning cloud concepts like software defined networking (SDN) and orchestration portals require IT professionals to have a solid working knowledge of the fluid, underlying cloud networking infrastructure, understand how cloud-enabled applications need to be built to ride on those rails, have insight into how server virtualization affects both of those parts of the picture, and be clued into how security can be wrapped around the whole shebang.

"In a cloud-based deployment, there can't be the kind of technology handoffs between silos in IT we have seen in the past. To achieve the efficiencies of a cloud investment, there has to be staff that can manage the layers of the cloud in cooperation with each other," Paola says.

The exact titles for these new hybrid jobs -- as well as the set of duties to be carried out by the individuals who fill them -- are still in a state of semantic and substantive flux. Some, like cloud architect, cloud software engineer/developer, cloud systems administrator, do indeed make the "cloud" bent quite obvious.

While others - like DevOps, for example - describe which two old IT silos - straight development and straight operations - have morphed into a new line item in the cloud focused IT budget. And still others -- traditional positions like project manager, business systems analyst and network architect -- are evolving into jobs that require their occupants to work in the cloud daily.

Joe Coyle, CTO of Capgemini North America, agrees with Grimes that IT people with cross-training have a leg up in the new cloud world. "I can no longer interview application developers solely based on their application development skills. I need to know how well they understand how those apps intricately map to the underlying cloud infrastructure it runs on and how they will react if that underlying IaaS needs to be changed," he says.

That said, "What people want and what they can get are two different things in this market," says John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, a worldwide IT staffing firm headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif.


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