The Renaissance IT Professional

As technologies evolve, so must the skill sets of IT professionals. The IT department of the future will look dramatically different -- perhaps smaller -- and definitely with new capabilities.

By Sudhir Verma, vice president, consulting services & project management office, Force 3
Mon, November 19, 2012

Network World — This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

Maintaining a day job and keeping pace with technology is an ongoing challenge. Demand for mid- to senior-level IT professional with expertise in multiple IT disciplines is on the rise. Meanwhile, junior-level positions are being eliminated, automated or removed from the core environment, limiting the ability to grow talent. The upshot: IT professionals will need to adopt a renaissance mentality.

What is a renaissance mentality as it relates to IT operations? Traditionally, IT departments have been structured to support specific technologies in silos, such as applications, servers, operating system, storage or networking. While there might have been some overlap, the skill set and jobs were largely independent of each other.

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In today's market we're witnessing a change in demand for professionals who are proficient across multiple platforms (think cloud computing and virtual desktops).

The transformation of the IT skill set is more pronounced than at any other time. Technology is evolving at a much faster pace than before, requiring skills to evolve just as quickly. With the recent economic downturn, as businesses were fighting for survival, IT departments were forced to delay investments in infrastructure upgrades. In the meantime, technology has leapfrogged those incremental IT improvements that were implemented just to keep the lights on.

As the CIOs and IT directors look beyond the traditional approach to improving infrastructure, it's time for managers to evaluate team skill sets. Current abilities may not be sufficient to make the necessary change deemed essential for the new way of IT.

One of the most compelling ways to lower costs is to transition to cloud and virtualization, as well as to adopt bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives. However, the skills necessary to pursue these opportunities may or may not be part of your IT department today. What's more, it is possible that with options like cloud, many of the administrative and support functions will no longer be required. A cloud systems administrator may require a whole new skill set than a classic Windows system administrator.

How IT directors can adapt

As organizations continue to look for ways to maximize IT investments in their quest to move to virtualization and cloud, it is imperative to look at ways to either retrain/retool existing IT resources or start looking for ways to attract talent more relevant to the "target architecture."

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