Overall IT job growth is relatively sluggish, but as demand for cloud-related positions soars, many technology professionals can segue their skills into the capabilities they need to land one of these high-paying posts. So if your New Year's resolution focused on getting a new job, earning more money, or landing a better position with more potential for advancement, read on.
Technologies such as cloud computing, virtualization, and data management will likely create 7 million jobs in the next three years, according to an IDC study
commissioned by Microsoft and released in December. Many reports say organizations plan to continue investing heavily in the cloud. This year, about half the midsized firms in Europe and North America will use this technology, Forrester predicted.
Jobs may include guiding organizations' overall cloud strategies, evaluating providers' offerings, dealing with contracts and service-level agreements, and selecting applications for the organization's use. Within the actual cloud provider space, professionals must know how to create cloud systems, keep them running at optimal capacity, evaluate new products and vendors, provide customer service and support, deliver technical support, and sell solutions to prospective clients. They'll need to know things like Ruby, Java, .NET, Chef, Python, and Puppet.
That's a lot of jobs, many of which pay well. But how can you, as an IT pro, translate your knowledge of servers, systems, application development, network support, LANs, and storage management into a career in the brave new world of cloud computing? And how can you learn new cloud tricks while maintaining the level of professionalism and standards that you enjoy at your current job?
If you're lucky, your employer may provide you the opportunity to learn on the job. Since so many businesses are finding it challenging to locate well-qualified people to take on new cloud responsibilities, many are educating motivated staff to learn these skills. Through certification by developers like IBM, Microsoft, and other vendors or industry groups like CompTIA and the Cloud Security Alliance, you can pick up the skills (and proof) you need. If your employer doesn't do this, it may be worthwhile to investigate the costs for your company to pick up the tab. It is cheaper to keep quality employees than to replace them.
Universities and online forums offer free initiatives called massive open online courses. (See: Sending IT Pros to MOOCs for New Skills.) You may or may not get college credit, but you certainly can get an education in fields such as health informatics in the cloud (from Coursera or Network Optimization) or distributed systems (from MIT).
Given the more collaborative environment of today's cloud-based world, it's equally important for IT professionals to demonstrate their ability to work with other technologists and with business peers.
If you're anxious to put your newly learned skills to the test, consider volunteering at an organization that could use your valuable insight, whether it's an animal shelter, a religious center, or another nonprofit. These organizations could save money by moving their IT operations to the cloud -- if only they had access to someone to handle the work at little or no cost. You'll be providing an invaluable service, gain practical experience, and walk away feeling great about yourself and what you were able to do for others.
It could also lead to that new or more exciting job and the start of a great 2013.
— Alison Diana , ThinkerNet Editor, Internet Evolution