I have been studying cloud computing for around three years and working with it for more than one. I’ve been asked many times by mentees and colleagues what they need to do to start working with cloud. My first answer to them is usually this: it depends, because maybe you are already working with it and you just don’t know!
Why do I say that? Cloud is based on several technologies and products, and most of them have existed for years. When they are connected to more recent products, such as an on-service automation management layer, this allows the creation of a cloud-based solution.
For infrastructure deployment personnel and support personnel, also known as IT specialists, things don’t change so much:
- There’s still hardware that needs to be deployed when building the cloud infrastructure and needs to be maintained during its lifecycle.
- The network is just as important as it was before.
- The virtualization layer, one of the cloud pillars, is crucial but nothing new.
- The operating system and subsystem products such as database, middleware and so on will still be there too.
This does not mean people working with these technologies will not be impacted. More than ever, it is very important to have an end-to-end view and understand the connections and relationships between the products used in cloud architecture. The more things are interconnected, the greater the impact on each other when individual pieces are changed. My advice is to understand cloud technology and the end-to-end relationship in the infrastructure.
The novelty in this area is related to products in the cloud heart—by which I mean those related to the cloud service management in general, such as orchestration, provisioning, metering and billing. By the way, as with all the new emerging technologies, there is an increasing demand for professionals with knowledge of these types of products.
On the other hand, things change a lot for (1) those professionals doing solution design using cloud infrastructures as well as (2) those architecting and developing applications.
The first group needs to understand and adopt cloud thinking. Although cloud brings many benefits, such as time to market, scalability, self-service and “everything as a service,” it also brings some caveats, mainly from a standardization perspective. Standardization, like virtualization and automation, is another cloud pillar. Even when architecting a private and dedicated cloud infrastructure, it is still necessary to have some standardization; otherwise it will not be possible to leverage cloud benefits. This is very important because it helps us to understand what workloads will fit well in a cloud infrastructure. This is an extensive subject that I’ll cover more in a future blog post.
Understanding cloud principles is crucial for solution design professionals. A great way to start learning is to look at the IBM Certifications roadmap, which is covered well by Maamar Ferkoun in his blog post “Achieving IBM Cloud Computing Certification.”
The second group, application architects and developers, also needs to design and create the applications with a cloud model in mind. By doing that, applications will be prepared to take advantage of cloud scale-out capabilities and to handle cloud characteristics such as distributed data centers across different regions of the globe and reusable models to allow quick provisioning of new application instances. Peter Bell summarizes this very well on his blog.
Besides the traditional IT job roles that cloud will affect, it will also create some new opportunities, even for non-IT professionals. A marketing professional who knows how cloud can help in a new product development or campaign will be able to take advantage of that and leverage business opportunities.
Cloud computing adoption has been growing up and will grow even more during the coming years. Are you prepared for it? Leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter.