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3 Skills That Every IT Person Needs

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3 Skills That Every IT Person Needs

IT personnel can be the lifeblood of a company. In this post, we investigate three key skills that every IT worker needs.

· DevOps Zone ·
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A very interesting conversation with someone led to a fun question. What are the three things that every IT person needs to learn to protect their position?

“If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more.” – Eric Shinseki

I’m a huge proponent for iterative and positive change. As a long-time systems admin and architect, I’ve had to live through a lot of it, and I eventually became the one who drove it. What were the things that I put into my repertoire that allowed for advancement in and out of the office?

These are the three key things that I would put on that top three skills list:

  1. Understand business operations and requirements.

  2. Understand automation and orchestration.

  3. Become a developer (sort of).

1. Understand the Business

Technology enables business, not the other way around. Technology for technology’s sake is a solution without a problem. Every single aspect of IT should be in furtherance of the business goals. The business processes and goals should be apparent in everything that we create, else we may as well be decorating a Christmas tree in February; it may look nice, but doesn’t serve any purpose.

Talk to everyone. Listen to everyone. Focus more on the listening than the talking, as well.

This will mean that you should be conversing with management teams, business leaders, and making sure to ask common questions that will ensure that you are aligning your solutions to the common business requirements.  Learning the language of your business sponsors is especially important so that you can translate it to requirements in any documentation you do.  Document everything.

2. Understand Automation and Orchestration

Process improvement is the real goal here, but the method by which we achieve that is with automation and orchestration.

Pro tip to everyone who is going down the road with automation:  you can’t automate a process that you don’t fully understand.

This is a merger of both the business requirements and the technical requirements as a recipe to define and automate a process.

The tooling is less important than the methodology. That can be a challenging thing for a lot of us to get past. Technologists, myself included, love to dive right into the details around specific settings and tweaks of the products, but we have to make sure that we maintain the high-level goals as a logical design first. Once you have the conceptual design, then a logical design of the functional components, you can get to the fun of nerding out on the specifics.

3. Become a Developer

Have you heard the old adage about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes?  This is that adage played out in the technical realm for IT operations.  You don’t need to be full DevOps, but you very certainly will not get to serious DevOps practices if you can’t start by understanding the developers.

Take some time to look over the code with the developers. Ask lots of questions. Be interested.

You should be because you’re responsible for making these applications work in production. Just like our first item around business requirements, you need to fully understand the needs of your customer. Your customer is your development team.

The Hidden Fourth Skill

Security. Yes, it could stand out as a single item, which would make this a top four list, but there’s a reason I have it as a fourth item in the top three. Security is in all three of the items in our list.

Seriously, you should be thinking about security across every single discipline that we have laid out in this article.

DevSecOps? No! It’s DevOps. Security needs to be baked in. Adding security to automation? No! It is always there. Always. Of course, with the first item in the list, there is no greater place in which security is paramount than in the business operations itself.

Security will range across everything from physical to virtual, from development environments to the cloud, and from passwords to smartphone security. There are dozens of things that we could list here. Know the implications of security in every single area of your organization or else you’ll be caught on the wrong side of an audit, or worse, a vulnerability.

Hopefully, this is helpful and gives you something to add to your thought process as we all look to make more out of what we can do for ourselves, and our companies every day.

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