Want a good cloud job? Better know traditional IT, too

To deliver the cloud effectively, you have to know how it works together with legacy systems and IT fundamentals

Let's say you go for a job interview as an enterprise cloud architect. You're asked a few questions about what's trending in the cloud computing space, such as the differences between Chef and Puppet, the last four Amazon Web Services releases, and even the differences between OpenStack and CloudStack.

The focus then moves to more traditional concepts, such as database design and implementation, network performance modeling, even (shudder) enterprise architecture. You do have some basic knowledge but missed a few of the more basic questions. And even though your cloud skills are certainly impressive, your limited knowledge of more traditional IT concepts gets your résumé tossed in the trash. Which was actually the right decision on the company's part.

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Most enterprises that have cloud-related positions to fill look for more than cloud skills -- at least, the smarter ones look for more. People who build new business systems and databases on cloud-based platforms still need to understand databases as well as business systems design and architecture, including best practices and approaches.

People who build and migrate infrastructure, such as storage and compute services, need that same IT knowledge. Ditto for those who extend existing enterprise security and management to the cloud and for those who deal with the changing paths of business continuity approaches and technology.

So, what cloud computing is and does: good to know. How cloud computing meshes with existing systems and infrastructure and how this is all supposed to work together at some point: critical to know.

This is not to say you should be one of those people who spends half an hour telling everyone how dumb and insecure cloud computing is, or one of those people who claim they did cloud computing in the 1960s when it was called time-sharing. You need to have a balance of talent that spans both the new, emerging cloud technology that InfoWorld covers every day as well as the traditional aspects of IT that businesses have worked with for years.

Cloud computing is not a magical way to jump past existing IT approaches. If this technology is to work, all the disciplines defined over the years need to be brought directly into the new world of cloud computing. As you manage your career toward the use of cloud-based technology, I'm sure you'll find that the fundamentals are critical for this technology to succeed.

This article, "Want a good cloud job? Know traditional IT, too," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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