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5 technologies every cloud-ready systems administrator should know

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Picture1In the last week of June 2014, I had the chance to share a project with worldwide information technology (IT) experts—all of them with a wide breadth of experience in the IT industry. We discussed several topics during those days—of course each expert has a very particular and personal point of view about the market and technologies—but one point that I want to highlight is a fact that all of us agreed on: information technology is an unending journey.

Because of this, I’ve started to think on how important it is to be up to date on IT technologies as an IT professional. In this blog post, I want to share my opinion about the five technologies an IT professional must to know to become a cloud-ready systems administrator: 

Virtualization with hypervisors

From a delivery professional’s standpoint, it is no longer enough to keep within the “operating system comfort zone.” If you want to grow in your professional career, you will need to add a hypervisor knowledge skill set such as vSphere, Hyper-V, KVM or PowerVM to the traditional skill profile (which might include Windows, AIX or Linux). Hypervisor technology is a key player in virtualization infrastructure, and making the right hypervisor choice will help you build a strong cloud solution by optimizing the use of your physical resources. With virtualization, you must remember that we are talking about using the same resources in different virtual instances, so the hypervisor must manage the most suitable platform. You can find out more about virtualization in this agnostic virtualization comparison.

Cloud deployment software

Cloud technologies and strategies are already a big part of the IT industry, so we need to adapt our skill matrix to these new products. No matter if we are talking about public, private or hybrid cloud, you need to have the right deployment software to support the cloud technology. IBM Cloud Manager with OpenStack could be a good starting point, and if you want a tool for a more complex infrastructure you could focus on IBM SmartCloud Orchestrator or the IBM Service Delivery Manager (ISDM) software suite.

Administration management tool

The IBM PureSystems family comes with an integrated administration management module. With IBM Flex System Manager, it is possible to manage virtual image tasks and perform hardware monitoring of the entire rack, including compute nodes, storage and networking devices. Flex System Manager also provides the systems administrator with the chance to have a mobile application for administration purposes running on the most popular mobile platforms. From my perspective, a key point for a systems administrator in a delivery organization is to have skills with this kind of integrated technology and not only with isolated pieces of the environment. 

Hardware interoperability

As I said in the last section, a highly qualified systems administrator needs to be able to handle not only specific technologies but also the big picture of their environment. The latest hardware launched to the market has a wide matrix of interoperability, so in order to improve your troubleshooting technique you must be able to work across different technologies. To mention a practical case, VMware vSphere technology is compatible with several networking devices, but the distinctive point is that the switch can also be a virtual appliance totally integrated within the virtual infrastructure (like with Cisco Nexus 1000v). Your ability to control this kind of device diversity could be the difference between having a full performance environment and an environment that is chronically slow. 

Virtualization and storage

And last but not least, another key part of our cloud infrastructure is the storage subsystem. Storage virtualization tools, like IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), could be used to manage several storage devices such as IBM Storwize v7000, the IBM System Storage DS8000 series or IBM XIV Storage System. Some benefits of storage virtualization are optimized tiered storage, improved network utilization for remote mirroring with innovative replication technology and a new data engine with accelerated data compression that helps improve efficiency, among others.

As I mentioned before, for me, information technology is an unending journey. For that reason, I’m pretty sure the five technologies I’ve just listed are only a few out of the many. If you would like to discuss any of these technologies or any other news, please feel free to contact me on Twitter @nikotorcasio.

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