Career Guidance for Infra Engineers – Part 1
Disclaimer: – This note was written by me (Mayank Nauni) in my personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are solely my own and do not reflect the view of my employer or my preference towards any of the OEMs.
Industry is changing so fast: Frustration follows!
It is very natural for the Infra Engineers from the background such as network, compute, virtualization, storage etc. to get frustrated and feel lost when they are unable to keep up pace with the everchanging technological trends, but the hard truth is that we are all guided by Darwin’s theory i.e. survival for the fittest.
Most of the enterprises are gradually moving away from legacy infrastructure and going to modern platform like cloud, the engineers must upskill themselves to match pace with the changing technological trends.
What is Industry 4.0?
With Industry 4.0, the engineers will need a very diverse and evolved set of skills. Industry now require engineers who can reskill themselves while keeping up with the upcoming technologies and automation in the industry. Techno-commercial skills with a strong business insight are in high demand these days.
OEM adapting to the demands of 4.0
I attended Cisco Live US, San Diego 2019, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins mentioned that the IT team of the future will have a combination of Infrastructure Engineer and Software Developers, with that an announcement was made on the retiring of legacy CCIE [ Cisco Certified Internet Expert, highest certification from Cisco] and new CCIE was announced on DevNet to its professional certification program, joining software developers with network professionals under a new community-based developer center to speed the progress of network automation across businesses.
New certifications include DevNet certifications to validate software professionals, streamlined certifications to validate engineering professionals, and training to help entry level professionals in both the network and software industries.
Some positive ray of hope!
Good news is that the traditional IT infrastructure knowledge hasn’t gone down the drain but it must be complimented with an additional software development knowledge for the future engineers.
What do you do to keep yourself upgraded and what choices do you have?
Was reading an article in The Straits Times (https://www.straitstimes.com/business/fastest-growing-skills-among-singapore-professionals-include-blockchain-workflow-automation) , the fastest growing skills among Singapore professionals include blockchain, workflow automation, robotic business automation and artificial intelligence.
According to this article, the 10 rising skills which had the biggest increase in listings over the five-year period for the Asia-Pacific region, in no particular order, are:
2. Workflow automation
3. Human-centered design
5. Social media marketing
6. Continuous integration
7. Gesture recognition technology
8. Artificial intelligence
9. Robotic process automation
10. Front-end Web development
I would like to add Cybersecurity to the list as it is one of the most sought-after skills.
Problem for legacy technology engineers?
Legacy engineers were taught to focus on “How” rather than focusing on “Why” which kept them isolated from business logics and entangles them with configuration complexity, seldom a legacy engineer would ask himself that why is he doing this change at all, what are the business drivers?
The change from “how” to “why”
Cloud has disrupted the IT infra domain drastically, as it promoted the mindset change from “how” to “why” as the approach followed on the cloud is inherently top down approach i.e. application oriented, the apps just consume the underlay infra thus eliminating “bottom to top” approach where you design infra first and place application on it.
It means having business understanding plays a vital role when we talk about cloud or any platform as service.
How do I start?
Infra Engineers (System, Storage Engineers)
Firstly, you need to choose a domain in demand for you, if you need to use your existing infra skills you must learn a few public clouds architecture and operations and start a new career as Cloud Ops Engineer or Cloud Architecture.
For network engineers, you can upgrade yourself by going for basic cloud certifications ( https://aws.amazon.com/certification/
Multi-cloud approach is very popular among the enterprises so having multi cloud knowledge / certifications would be very beneficial and makes you more selling.
You can buy a small server to setup a lab and play with latest technology and use the free tier on public cloud to get a look and feel of public clouds.
Network domain is also not immune to the disruption bought by cloud so the pointers mentioned for Infra Engineers are also applicable for network engineers. Network Engineers have a choice to move into Cyber Security arena as security has always been an inherent part of network. For a list of security certifications, you can refer to the document below: –How-to-get-into-Cyber-Security
Network Automation is a hot topic and a sought-after skill, most of the enterprises are implementing NetDevOps t You can follow this blog below to learn about NetDevOps
The NetDevOps skills are equally helpful on the cloud.
The Network Engineer can also go for specific cloud network specialty examination to use their primary skills on the cloud.
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