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Top five VMware IT infrastructure skills administrators need

IT administrators should expand their skills beyond basic virtualization management into software-defined and emerging technologies to remain competitive.

Having a basic understanding of traditional virtualization technology used to provide job security, but today,...

administrators must supplement that knowledge with different VMware IT infrastructure skills and expertise in software-defined networks, software engineering, Amazon Web Services, artificial intelligence and Kubernetes to keep up with market demands.

There is no doubt that technology evolves rapidly and businesses often have trouble keeping up. Adopting leading-edge technology was once the bailiwick of only technology firms, but that's no longer the case.

"A lot of companies now realize that they have become software firms," said Dave Van Everen, senior vice president of worldwide field organization at Mirantis. "Regardless of the industry, competitive advantage comes from collecting data, analyzing it and using it to improve operations."

Many businesses fall behind in this quest because of staff shortages. Finding workers with the right expertise in emerging tech fields is one of management's biggest concerns, according to CompTIA Inc. And the VMware IT infrastructure skills gap is growing wider: Four out of five employees lack the skills needed to do their jobs now and in the future, according to Gartner.

The future lies in software

Change is evident in the data center.

"Before, IT work was very physical," explained James Stanger, chief technology evangelist at CompTIA. "First virtualization and now the growing emphasis on automation are having a major impact on data center jobs."

The emphasis there has moved away from hardware to software VMware IT infrastructure skills. For instance, VMware's software-defined network platform NSX has been successful; its revenue for Q2 of the 2019 fiscal year grew 40% year over year, and the product now generates more than $1 billion annually for VMware.

However, the need for trained and certified NSX admins is high. VMware offers a series of training classes. Its Introduction to Network Virtualization with NSX course starts with an overview of physical networking and VMware vSphere network fundamentals, then describes what a software-defined data center (SDDC) is and explains how NSX integrates with vSphere's SDDC virtual infrastructure.

No longer getting their hands dirty

As data centers become more software based, admins are spending more time on high-level tasks, such as developing system architectures, and less time on maintenance work, such as building system images. This had led to further demand for software engineering managers, according to a LinkedIn survey.

As data centers become more software based, admins are spending more time on high-level tasks, such as developing system architectures, and less time on maintenance work, such as building system images.

In 2017, the number of companies looking to fill such vacancies swelled by 38%. Not only are software engineering managers in demand, but they are also well-compensated: Their median salary in the same year was $148,000. A few of the necessary IT infrastructure skills listed in open software engineer managing jobs include the ability to manage several large integrated product teams, provide oversight to support parallel development efforts and demonstrate experience developing full stack platforms.

The AWS effect

Use of public cloud services has been on the rise. VMware has an agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS), so it's important for admins to understand the differences between private and public cloud.

Ryan Kroonenburg, founder of A Cloud Guru Ltd., understands the challenges admins face in gaining AWS expertise. In 2015, he tried to get a job at Amazon. As he was preparing, he looked for training opportunities and the options he found were boring.

He formed A Cloud Guru and, three years later, it has trained more than 600,000 individuals in 181 countries. The company's AWS portfolio has expanded to more than 30 courses.

The Introduction to AWS class starts with a history of the product and concludes with a look at its AI features. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect -- Associate course provides students with an overview of popular options, such as CloudFormation, Elastic Beanstalk and OpsWorks, as well as outlining how to integrate AWS and VMware.

Systems gain intelligence

AI is becoming more important as companies use the technology to automate routine maintenance functions. In fact, IDC projects that spending on AI systems will reach $77.6 billion in 2022, a compound annual growth rate of 37.3% and more than a threefold increase from the $24 billion forecast for 2018.

The influx of these applications affects the data center and, as a result, the VMware IT infrastructure skills needed to succeed.

"Artificial intelligence and machine learning applications generate massive data volumes," Van Everen said. "IT architects need to understand how to tune their systems for these applications."

For those admins who want to gain experience with the technology, Udemy conducts an introductory AI course. Students learn how to build AI applications using Python, how to merge AI with OpenAI Gym and how to optimize AI deployments.

Interest in containers grows

As containers gain traction in the data center, 451 Research expects revenue from these platforms to increase from the $762 million in revenue in 2016 to $2.7 billion by 2020. Companies need ways to manage these systems, and Kubernetes has emerged as the main method.

Because the technology is in a nascent stage of development, demand for skilled admins is high. The Linux Academy offers a class for individuals to become certified Kubernetes admins. The class touches on topics such as architecture, the use of primitives and building clusters.

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