Top Six Skills Needed to Manage Hybrid IT Environments
March 11, 2016

Kong Yang

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The market is evolving from traditional on-premises IT to a hybrid strategy where one set of critical services is maintained on-premises, but it’s connected with another set in the cloud. Whether it’s cost savings or improvement in agility organizations are after, one thing is for sure — this migration cannot be done without skilled IT professionals at the helm.

Although the new role of IT professionals in this hybrid world will vary based on individual business needs, all will need to become polymaths in order to be successful. In fact, SolarWinds recently conducted a survey among nearly 100 global IT professionals in its thwack community that revealed the top six skills they say are needed to manage hybrid IT environments.

1. Service-oriented architectures (SOAs)

As more companies move to a hybrid IT model, they will need to be more agile, lean and cost-effective. To meet these needs, the barriers to consumption will need to decrease. So, IT professionals will need to leverage templates and services from the marketplace and understand application architectures, distributed systems, APIs and IT operations.

2. Automation

In a hybrid world, where infrastructure resources are only one part of the equation, businesses will need more than scripts to enable automation as they reduce the friction to consume services. Automation in a hybrid IT environment must abstract away the operations layer and be integrated with machine learning algorithms that will automatically scale, move and remediate services. IT professionals will need to integrate their automation and orchestration workflows with provider APIs.

3. Hybrid IT monitoring

For hybrid IT environments, a complete view of the on-premises data center and the cloud is even more critical. IT professionals must build a tool to aggregate, consolidate and visualize key performance and events metrics, and glean the key points from the data to discern the most valuable pieces of information from their application stacks. Alternatively, they can leverage a monitoring vendor that has an end to end solution that can provide the single point of truth for their IT needs from their premises to their clouds.

4. Vendor management

Vendor management is two-fold, as IT professionals will need to manage the technology aspect of cloud environments, as well as the business side of service provider T&Cs and variable pricing. Most IT professionals are not currently involved in business dealings that include legalese and pricing, but as contracts become more nuanced, IT professionals must improve upon the following trifecta: business savvy for contract negotiation, technical expertise to use cloud services and project management.

5. Application migration

Application migration to the cloud can be time-consuming, as it typically takes weeks for a single application. However, some service providers are making it much easier. But IT professionals must remember that application migration is just step one — the management required following initial migration is arguably more important. They should apply the core competencies they would employ in a traditional IT environment, while having a firm understanding of the application’s key events and performance metrics. Troubleshooting and remediation are also key, because things will change and fail. Therefore, having backup and disaster recovery plans can ensure business continuity.

6. Distributed architectures

Working with distributed architectures will require working across multiple service providers and geographies. It’s important to remember that these architectures abstract the underlying resources, so IT professionals will need to translate speeds and feeds into acceptable quality-of-service for their users. In hybrid IT, they will need to become accustomed to multiple providers handling remediation in case of outages or other performance issues. The control and responsibility for maintaining the distributed architecture will shift beyond IT’s purview, but in their place will be choice, scale, agility and availability of services to build distributed architectures.

Adding and mastering these skills will go a long way to ensuring not only business success in this new hybrid world, but IT career longevity.

Kong Yang is a Head Geek at SolarWinds.

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