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Cloud Networking Tech Panel, Q&A

by Team Nuggets
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Published on November 4, 2019

Trainers Bart Castle and Jeff Kish, along with Learner Community mentor Derek Smith hosted a cloud networking tech panel yesterday, during which they discussed a wide range of networking, cloud, and career-related topics.

Here's some additional insight from the three IT pros about the cloud and transition to a cloud-related career!

1. What's your advice to a 50-year-old trying to make a career change?

Bart: Your career is only as over as you are with it — and at 50 you have time to make changes and still enjoy a new path. Cloud computing is built on networking, automation, and virtualization. Odds are if you've been in IT for even a few years then you will have run into at least one of these arenas — meaning that you may already be on your way to a career in cloud computing.

I remind established IT folks all the time that they really do know more about the cloud than they think. Figure out what your strengths are in three facets. Then which of those three techs do you know best? Are you most interested in fixing/building tools, or do you want to work with the business or its employees more directly? How can you leverage any of your past job roles/titles to demonstrate your learning ability — and interest to grow, change, and adapt?

2. What are the best cloud certifications?

Bart: Starting out, the CompTIA Net+ and Cloud+ are personal favorites of mine. A career in cloud computing can take a lot of different shapes, so beyond the basics you'd want to consider what sort of work or role you'd like to fill and then map that to either a cloud vendor certification for that role (Azure Solutions Architect, AWS Systems Operations Administrator, Google Cloud Developer for example).

Or you could consider some other general-purpose certifications to help refine your fit. Linux+ or the Linux Foundation are useful, as well as the Cloud Credential Council's role-based non-vendor-specific certifications. There is also the popular Sec+ and CISSP certifications. Be sure to consider the specific career objective when making a decision across these fronts.

3. Where do I start, AWS or Azure? (I am a Microsoft Sr. Systems Administrator so my life is Microsoft.)

Bart: One of the great long-time strengths of Microsoft is in its diagonal integration model. Simply put, MS products work best with other MS products — and subsequently, Microsoft-enabled organizations are continually going to return to MS solutions like Office 365 and Azure. I would say stick with your MS roots and certify up. Don't forget your PowerShell. It will be a small navigational adjustment to move into AWS from there.

You will find that AWS and Azure have many, many overlapping service offerings. Once you begin to understand the underlying cloud architecture patterns, you will continue to see direct translations across all the big cloud service providers.

4. What are the best technologies to learn for those who have networking knowledge?

Jeff: Software-defined networking has slowly but steadily been making its impact on the traditional networking landscape. As we draw closer to 2020, one of our focuses should be on developing a skill set that will keep us relevant in an age of automation. Make no mistake, the need for network engineers does not drop as automation increases. However, the need for low-level techs may take a hit. So, the best way to position yourself is twofold: For one, continue pushing yourself to higher levels of skill and certification within IT.

If this is Cisco, then push past the CCNA and go for the CCNP or even CCIE because automation won't be taking jobs away from the highest-level certs. Secondly, start to invest in automation technologies by learning Python, Ansible, Git, etc.  Pursue the DevNet Associate certification and spend time at developer.cisco.com/, going through the free learning tracks there. Automation isn't likely to take your networking job anytime soon, but it's certainly going to make it look different. So, embrace the change and succeed.

5. Where is the fine line within cloud computing for the network and server team?

Jeff: This conversation has been around a long time, ever since virtualization entered the picture and brought its own networking technologies that exist outside the physical realm.  Fortunately, hypervisor and cloud management suites have made great progress in isolating network and server configuration, allowing for Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) to define which services a specific user can access.

In an ideal environment, managing these virtual resources would be no different from managing physical ones — with the network team creating and defining the virtual network, leaving the server team to be responsible for creating the workloads and selecting the network to which they will connect. Granted, not every IT shop has distinct lines between network and server teams. Sometimes this creates a gray area in managing the environment, so you must still find what works for your environment. The primary point to keep in mind is this: However your IT department manages physical resources should be how they manage virtual and cloud resources as well.

6. What's the adoption rate of cloud technologies worldwide? Between SD-WAN, Azure AD, and SQL on Azure, which one should I focus on most?

Derek: Cloud technologies are being adopted rapidly. Cloud technology is expected to grow over 22% in 2020, with roughly 80% of enterprise workloads running in the cloud in 2020. With that said, areas like Azure AD and Azure SQL will be top of the list for companies that are adopting Azure as their cloud offering, given the rich integration with data center workloads and Office 365. Azure AD is by far the first and easiest exposure for the Azure cloud. Azure SQL is also another technology that has great portability into Azure, with three variations to help determine how much control you want with your database environment. Data continues to be a big driver for cloud computing adoption.

SD-WAN is less of a technology that would drive someone to adopt cloud, however, the cloud has fully adopted SD-WAN, and uses that to help simplify access to the cloud. This allows you to leverage existing equipment and cheaper ISP options to facilitate branch to branch connectivity.

7. Which cloud platform should I choose: Azure, AWS, Google Cloud Platform?

Derek: Pick Team Cloud! No, seriously, you can make an argument for any cloud in any industry. Certainly, there may be one or two key features that may make one cloud more beneficial than another cloud in certain verticals.

For example, Azure Dedicated Host would be great in heavily regulated industries, but Google and AWS offer dedicated host offerings also. There is great parity among them, its ultimately going to come down to where does your skill level apply, does one have a certain feature that maybe the others do not and proximity to your data.

Keep your eyes open for details about our next tech panel!


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