The transition from virtual machines to container instances has significantly altered how organizations use and manage IT infrastructure. While there is still a need for people to spin up resources and keep the data center running, the classic sysadmin skills won't be as relevant as in the past.
To be proficient in this new era, IT administrators would be wise to consider container training and deepen their skills related to the automation behind containerized applications. Many organizations that have adopted cloud containers use Kubernetes to handle the management burden, so that's an obvious starting point for IT professionals looking to keep up with changing conditions.
Which IT skills will be in demand?
If you intend to stay with your current employer, it makes sense to thoroughly learn the tools in use there. If not, start with Docker and Kubernetes. The technology is relatively new, so a worker with experience or an understanding of containers will stand out from job applicants that do not.
Along with that, it doesn't hurt to understand how to speed up other tasks. Know the programming languages and APIs associated with the tools and applications that are currently in use at your organization -- or that will likely be adopted in the near term.
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Knowledge of how to use APIs is an extremely transferable skill. APIs are, after all, the new normal.
As for which programming languages to specialize in, there is no one right answer. That said, no one goes wrong with Bash and PowerShell as a good combination of languages. The ability to craft a quick bit of code to pull some suddenly important data, for example, will make you a valuable employee.
Understand the cloud-container connection
Containers are inextricably linked to public cloud. It is how the concept of scale up or scale down becomes so valuable. This means IT admins must understand the underlying cloud environments.
It is worth noting that the major cloud platforms have their own nomenclature and ways of doing things. If, for example, your job will be to work with Azure but your previous experience was with AWS, study up on the differences. Cloud providers publish plenty of useful introductory courses and resources. This material is available at no charge.
PluralSight and Linux Academy offer many courses on Docker and Kubernetes, APIs and programming.
Official courses for these technologies are available, too, but they are more expensive. The two-day virtual online training course for Docker and Kubernetes, for example, costs $1,995. What's covered in these official courses can typically be learned at one's own speed using the myriad professionally produced online courses. Plus, there is no requirement to take the official courses before you sit for a certification exam.
The Kubernetes certification program comes in two forms: certified application developer and certified administrator. The cost of these exams is in line with other IT certification costs. Familiarize yourself with the guidelines for the Kubernetes certification program overseen by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation as well as for Docker's certification.
Lastly, some nontechnical advice: Find out who is involved in the container rollout and, if possible, shadow them. Make it clear that you're interested in containers and what comes next.