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Make 2018 a year of IT skills development

New Year's resolutions aren't just for the gym averse and fast food junkies. IT engineers, cloud admins and other professionals obsessed with uptime have self-improvement in mind for 2018.

Slogging off the merriment of holiday parties and White Elephant swaps, IT pros from near and far will gaze into the new year and apply the principle of continuous improvement to themselves.

DevOps, open source and programmable infrastructure were relentlessly growing trends in 2017, so it's no surprise that IT skills development is top of mind heading into 2018.

Following are the New Year's resolutions of DevOps experts, project managers, ops veterans and other members of the IT community. Share yours in the comments.

Pick up new OS skills

"I grew up in Microsoft, and I'd like to ratify and expand Linux [server administration]. My goal for the next 12 months is to get a Red Hat certification."
-- GARY BRIGHT, infrastructure developer at Niu Solutions, an IT consultancy and cloud infrastructure services provider in the U.K.

Red Hat certifications cover a broad swath of IT duties performed with Red Hat products, from Gluster storage to OpenShift container deployment. In addition to its core Linux administrator and developer certification options, Red Hat offers a DevOps-focused certification path.

Do DevOps right

"[The goal is] getting our heads around what is DevOps, and self-learning, and bringing that back into the organization. You can't just say, 'I'm just going to do DevOps [or] just Agile.' How do I pick and choose from those and push it into our processes and make sure each bit is beneficial to our org?"
-- JON WILLIAMS, CTO and Bright's colleague at Niu

Williams is cognizant of the dangers of "death by process" and "automating the hell out of everything without a real reason." To tailor DevOps for Niu, he plans to introduce hackathons to the organization across all teams and encourage learning between departments.

Rely on monitoring and management dashboards

"We are at the point where we started utilizing management dashboards now and want to do more and more: create all the dashboards, all the alerts and all the data-driven metrics."
-- NIRAV SHAH, cloud DevOps engineer at Gogo, in-flight internet entertainment provider

Gogo is about two years into its use of VictorOps for incident response and management. Shah sees opportunity for more tailored metrics reporting in dashboards, as well as utilization of historical metrics to improve the IT systems before incidents occur. "Our main goal is to make end-user customers as happy as possible," he said. Few in the IT industry would argue against that.

Shah also shared IT skills development advice for pros looking to join the rising DevOps tide. "Go with your certification and learn at least one programming language," he said. A former application engineer, Shah obtained the Amazon Web Services Certified Solutions Architect certification to facilitate his leap into DevOps.

Bring enterprises into modern ops

"I want to get better at providing [configuration and compliance automation] ... to help that customer move one step closer to continuous integration, continuous deployment [and] continuous compliance."
-- LARRY HERZ, senior data center engineer at Ahead LLC, a cloud adoption consulting firm

Speaking of modernization, through 2017, Herz saw clients that did not necessarily think cloud first, but considered cloud when it proved appropriate for the workload. For example, when an application must scale up automatically, it migrates out of the data center and onto a cloud host. Conversely, there are still huge monolithic stacks that technically can lift and shift to the cloud, but without cost or performance improvements, Herz said.

Pick up a new language

"My last personal goal was to improve my technical communication. What's next? Learning Go. The ops and developer tooling world is moving to Go, and I don't have a statically typed language under my belt. I write Ruby every day, and default to Python when given the choice."
-- PAIGE BERNIER, software engineer on New Relic's Demotron project

As a programming language, Go achieves fast compilation, modularity and an easy way to account for modern app dependencies. It's a good fit for distributed systems, including application containers. The Go language was developed at Google.

Editor's note: Demotron is an internal project at New Relic that creates dummy apps and back-end services that intentionally run poorly, enabling the company to demo its IT performance monitoring and management tools.

Put multi-cloud to use

"My resolution is to have several multi-cloud production engagements where organizations can take advantage on-the-fly of cloud pricing and region availability."
-- WILL KINARD, CTO of BoxBoat Technologies, a DevOps and containerization consultancy

The hybrid data center model is an enterprise staple today. Based on this cloud foundation, corporations will turn to containers to enable portable workloads across cloud deployments in 2018, Kinard said. Container management tool choices, as well as the development of federation technologies for container platforms, determine how soon multi-cloud containerized applications become a production reality for organizations.

Focus on what matters

"Personally, I really want to take good care of myself. You do ops work for 15 years and it's 15 years of sleep deprivation. It can ruin your health. That's why I'm so passionate now about helping people, particularly in ops, to remove some of that burden of being way overwhelmed. We don't let our computers get to 100% capacity utilization, and we shouldn't let ourselves either."
-- DOMINICA DEGRANDIS, author of Making Work Visible: Exposing Time Theft to Optimize Work & Flow

DeGrandis also started a new job as director of digital transformation at Tasktop Technologies Inc., and plans to dive into that role now that Making Work Visible is on shelves. "Tasktop's connecting 50-plus tools and I want to understand that a lot better, so I can help organizations get a view of the whole system," she said.

This was last published in December 2017

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