Working in IT requires a continual process of learning new skills as technologies emerge or evolve. Yet, because of the vast variety of skills available to choose from, it’s become necessary to spend time researching all options to ensure that the skills you end up acquiring are both interesting and valuable for your professional career. Looking at hot IT infrastructure skills beginning in 2022, I can see some patterns forming. For one, the need for scripting, AI, and other automation processes is at an all-time high.
From an infrastructure perspective, learning to deploy and manage tools that ingest and intelligently analyse data is a top priority now. It’s no surprise that technologies related to data security are highly desirable. In addition to technologies that help secure complex hybrid and multi-cloud environments, this includes extending popular security environments to the cloud and data centres. Finally, a third technology model, likely to emerge in 2022, consists of the capabilities needed to deploy and manage emerging technologies such as private 5G and IoT.
Let’s dive into a bit more detail regarding which skills I think are or will be important for IT infrastructure professionals to learn:
1. Advanced Cloud Networking
The configuration of advanced network settings within the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud can be dramatically different from one cloud platform to the next. Popular cloud providers including AWS and Microsoft Azure use different terminology and processes when it comes to designing, deploying, and maintaining network services according to proprietary best practice guidelines. In addition to learning the core networking services for each cloud provider, advanced networking within the enterprise also includes the need to understand and deploy multi-cloud management platforms that are overlaid across multiple clouds. While multi-cloud management can indeed simplify the control and visibility of hybrid/multi-cloud architectures, having a thorough understanding of how the overlay software interacts with each cloud provider’s infrastructure at a networking level is critically important from a performance and data security perspective.
As enterprise IT architectures grow increasingly complex with multiple software layers to peer into and analyse, the use of artificial intelligence to sift through and make sense of all the data is quickly becoming a necessity. On the infrastructure front, AI for IT operations (AIOps) platforms are a way to leverage AI to analyse network traffic for performance and data security related issues. To properly deploy and manage an AIOps platform into a corporate network, administrators should have solid foundations in the following areas:
- Network/device health monitoring
- Network performance/security data collection
- Automation/scripting techniques
- Interpreting analysed data into actionable remediation steps
3. Zero Trust for Secure Workloads
Most IT infrastructure professionals understand that zero trust is a set of principles that require users and devices to be identified, authenticated, and authorized before accessing any corporate resources. What is missing, however, is the ability to protect the internal workloads of the processes that communicate and transfer sensitive data between servers, data centres and the cloud. Zero Trust Workloads will be the next iteration of the technology needed to secure, monitor, and troubleshoot zero trust environments and communications with workloads.
Containers have become widespread in the DevOps world for numerous reasons. First, it is lightweight and requires few processor and memory resources. You can also easily move containers between different data centres and cloud environments. Finally, the deployment speed of containers is much faster than other deployment options. But being able to create and publish is only half the story. Additional skills are required for IT departments in the early stages of implementing containers as part of the DevOps lifecycle. This includes the skills needed to modify existing DevOps workflows to include containerized processes, simplify container deployment using custom scripting/automation, and manage containers using orchestration tools.
5. Performance Management
Furthermore, on the DevOps side of the IT house, application administrators that have profound knowledge of application performance management (APM) software will be in high demand. Because DevOps philosophies call for continuous improvement of applications consistently and within a software development lifecycle (SDLC) framework, manually monitoring app performance and identifying ways to achieve increased speeds and lower latency is no longer effective. Instead, they use of APM tools that automatically monitor/assess applications, identify faults and provide remediation steps is now a “must have” instead of a “nice to have”.
6. Smart Building IoT for Health and Safety
The COVID-19 pandemic has switched up the priorities of many technology projects. An example of a technology that has gained interest as of late is to use IoT to monitor physical building and campus operational technologies (OT) and to run automated environmental checks. This includes the monitoring and intelligent adjustment of heating and air conditioning systems, real-time asset tracking, air quality sensor checks, smart lighting, and occupancy counting. Because many commercial properties remain at low occupancy levels due to so many employees working from home, it is the perfect time to deploy and thoroughly test automated smart building systems with relatively little impact and interference on employees. Technical skills required for these types of smart building services include the operation of various IoT platforms, the deployment, and management of monitoring/alerting systems, and data extraction and analysis using built-in APIs.
7. Private 5G
Private 5G, deployed on-premises, has garnered corporate attention for several years, but with few opportunities in terms of production deployments. However, from 2022 onwards, enterprises are expected to start deploying private 5G networks in their facilities to address the real-world performance and security challenges that Wi-Fi is facing. Technologies within 5G private networks include deployment and management of cellular radio access networks (RANs), as well as the ability to integrate 5G networks and network slicing capabilities into an organization’s existing LAN/WAN infrastructure through quality of service (QoS).