2016: The Year of the Software-Defined Skill Set

    In 2015, Gartner named software-defined applications and infrastructures as one of the year’s top strategic trends. As we are seeing more organizations introduce software to effectively utilize and manage physical hardware, the IT teams that manage these software-defined environments will also need to evolve their skill set. Otherwise, they may find that their current capabilities may become obsolete, as many of their primary job functions will become automated.

    IT workers will need to broaden their breadth of experience to include more relevant DevOps skills like scripting, automation, and network/storage virtualization, to name a few. Without making this transition, the risk to individual careers is significant. 

    As cloud computing and virtualization pave the way for the age of software-defined everything, IT workers must prepare for 2016: the year of the software-defined skill set. In this slideshow, Citrix has identified five ways that IT pros can continue to contribute to their organizations.

    2016: The Year of the Software-Defined Skill Set - slide 1

    The Era of Software-Defined Skills

    Click through for more on how software-defined skills will become an essential element to IT success in 2016 and how IT departments can prepare, as identified by Citrix.

    2016: The Year of the Software-Defined Skill Set - slide 2

    Develop a DevOps Mindset

    It’s not enough to understand that there are servers and networks; it will be mandatory that operations teams understand how they are abstracted with virtualization and thus how they can be automated with templates and scripts.

    Instead of having developers crank out an endless assembly line of VMs for operations to deal with on their own, developers collaborate with operations to deploy and support applications. These applications are built from smaller, task-specific micro-service components that can be replicated easily, and orchestrated according to the needs of the specific service. That provides a much more efficient and flexible way to build and adapt services, and even alter the purpose of an entire data center at a moment’s notice, making what used to be difficult and costly far more manageable.

    2016: The Year of the Software-Defined Skill Set - slide 3

    Cultivate a Culture of Change

    IT managers will need to reorganize the way they operate new technologies and deploy certain skills, and rethink how they manage resources in a holistic way. Organizations will most likely want to retain IT specialists who can manually repair equipment, but they will also be looking for the same resource efficiency with their software-defined environments. Therefore, organizations will need to strategically place IT specialists who also have skills to work on virtual servers.  

    2016: The Year of the Software-Defined Skill Set - slide 4

    Training Before the Train Wreck

    As virtualization continues to develop at rapid speeds, IT departments and universities will need to structure training programs around skills needed to work in virtualized settings before they find that the organization’s skills are obsolete.

    IT departments must be able to pre-empt the possibility of having under-skilled workers by always ensuring that their employees are up to speed with the latest technologies. It is imperative for IT departments to invest in their staff’s career development by regularly offering training courses or reimbursing certification courses. In fact, decision-makers consider developing new IT skills and increasing the use of new technologies high priorities for their organization in the next 12 months. (Source: Forrester’s Business Technographics Global Priorities and Journey Survey, 2015)

    For the proactive IT worker, free online programming courses and numerous books on cloud infrastructure also serve as resources to catch IT teams up to speed. 

    2016: The Year of the Software-Defined Skill Set - slide 5

    Convince the Customer, Convince the Company

    IT managers must be able to demonstrate to customers how automation helps lower operating costs, optimize performance and improve productivity. By getting the customer on board, IT departments can make the case for investing in their own career development to stakeholders who aren’t convinced of the shift. The end result is a well-rounded IT staff prepared for the software-defined world.

    2016: The Year of the Software-Defined Skill Set - slide 6

    Teach and Be Taught

    IT specialists will need to be willing to collaborate with coworkers of all ages and embrace different levels of experience. While younger employees may have less work experience, they enter the workforce armed with an education catered to the current technology landscape. An environment that celebrates collaboration will be a key to success for IT teams preparing for this software-defined shift.

    New tools and technologies will always be in development to create efficiencies and cost savings. As we saw with the industrial revolution, the rise of machinery forced many workers to learn new skills that would enable them to work alongside these machines, and not against. Now that we’re entering the age of the software-defined everything, it’s imperative that IT workers adapt to this new environment by gaining new skills that will help them remain relevant.

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