The 2011 enterprise IT job market: Predictions and areas for growth

While 2010 was big for virtualization in the data center, the IT job market this year will see a surge in demand for cloud architecture and security knowledge, among other skills.

The year 2010 was huge for virtualization in enterprise data centers. The era of the virtual data center is here, and while the technology itself has lived up to its potential as “disruptive,” its effect has also extended far beyond traditional data centers.

The past few years focused on server virtualization, but the next few will be spent building cloud computing technologies. Server virtualization was (and is) primarily about containing hardware sprawl, and clouds are about optimizing IT and redefining roles and responsibilities. Clouds also offer flexibility, agility, availability and affordability, and with cloud technology, IT as a Service (ITaaS) is finally within reach. These technology changes are truly disruptive, creating opportunities for qualified job seekers.

While the IT job market’s demand for experience in servers, networks and storage continues to grow, these five skills will be very valuable to employers in 2011.

Cloud architects
Whether building private, public or hybrid clouds, knowledge of cloud architecture will be critical in 2011. Although specialists in areas such as server, network or storage could have a background in virtualization, cloud architects will be agents of change, leading the transformation of IT.

Data center management and automation
The magic behind cloud computing lies in the software that brings it all together. Rapid provisioning, dynamic optimization, self-healing and self-service are a few cloud promises, none of which are possible without software to drive them. Manufacturers are investing heavily in this space, and the migration toward the cloud will only accelerate profit opportunity. Process-oriented individuals with experience implementing cloud products will find more job opportunities as this market matures.

Desktop virtualization
The cloud is not limited to servers. Virtual desktops provide iPod-like benefits to all sorts of devices. For example, if your iPod breaks, you simply get another one and re-synch it with iTunes. The same holds true with virtual desktops. With roughly four million iPads sold, Hewlett-Packard Co. acquiring Palm Inc., and even Cisco Systems jumping in the thin client mix with Cius, the virtual desktop opportunity is real.

Skilled experts for products such as VMware View and Citrix XenDesktop will be in high demand in the 2011 IT job market. The conversation doesn’t end with virtual desktops: Application deployment models will evolve from traditional to virtualized to app stores.

Collaboration
One interesting side effect of the recession is a renewed focus on collaboration tools. Enterprises slashed travel costs with Web and video conferencing technologies, also enabling more effective global communications. They also began using video to enhance relationships with customers. For example, companies started using bedside video in healthcare and remote fashion consultants in retail.

Companies continue to invest in collaboration technologies, and software developers in this space have a unique integration opportunity. With so many integration points -- voice, video, digital signage, etc. -- the sky is the limit for developers to bring all of these technologies together.

Security
Enterprise IT companies face increased regulation and compliance requirements. First there was SOX, then healthcare’s HIPAA and PCI in retail, and more are coming with Massachusetts privacy laws. Enterprises need help navigating this minefield, as most executives struggle with understanding their current protection levels and identifying the changes needed to become compliant. Further into 2011, having security assessments to identify exposure points will be vital in the IT job market. Also, as we move toward borderless architectures, job seekers with a security background will find new employment opportunities.

About the author: Lawrence E. Veino, Jr., is the director of pre-sales engineering for the Data Center Practice at Presidio Inc., Northeast. Veino is an IT professional with 16 years of experience in data center technologies. His expertise in IT includes helpdesk, desktop support, development, virtualization, networking and storage. Prior to his position at Presidio Inc., Larry spent 10 years working at EMC Corp. in Symmetrix engineering as a field technical consultant and as a national partner technical manager. Veino holds various technology certifications and accreditations from industry leaders, including EMC, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard Co., Microsoft and VMware Inc.

This was first published in January 2011

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