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Virtualization skills admins must have in 2020

Industry experts Sander van Vugt, Brian Kirsch and Stuart Burns weigh in on what skills virtualization admins must have in 2020 to better meet growing industry demands.

Every year virtualization continues to evolve, admins must better meet rising virtualization demands and newer technology, such as GPU virtualization and edge computing. Though traditional virtualization endures, data center automation, hybrid cloud and Docker change what skills admins must have in 2020.

To gain more insight, we asked industry experts more about the importance of hybrid workload management, containerization, big data, scripting and cloud technology as essential virtualization skills for admins.

Sander van VugtSander van Vugt

Sander van Vugt, independent trainer and consultant: Managing hybrid workloads

Containers are gaining popularity and coming closer to virtualized architectures. As a result, admins must know everything there is to know about containers. Even if admins are not running containers yet, sooner or later the companies they work for will adopt container technology, which is going to significantly affect the current virtualization infrastructure.

Because Docker is the de facto standard for containers, admins must know how to deploy a container in Docker and ensure that they understand the difference between a VM and a container.

Admins must be well versed in cloud technology. The boundaries between virtualized systems and the cloud are slowly fading away. At some point, admins' VMs might be running as public cloud instances. This affects job responsibilities, because admins must be familiar with hybrid cloud, which enable them to manage workloads both in the cloud as well as a virtualized data center. Hybrid clouds also let admins easily migrate workloads from their data centers to the public cloud, and vice versa.

Last, but not least, admins should familiarize themselves with configuration management tools. Ansible is taking over the data center and lets admins manage containers, VMs, cloud and physical machines from one interface. In 2020, IT is no longer about isolated islands; it is about managing deeply integrated hybrid infrastructure. Admins can ensure job security for the next couple of years as long as they are ready to -- and have the virtualization skills -- for hybrid IT.

Brian KirschBrian Kirsch

Brian Kirsch, IT architect and instructor: Flexibility and adaptability is key

As 2020 comes into focus, flexibility and adaptability are key skills for admins. Workloads now move across multiple systems, and applications can span traditional VMs to containers and from on-premises data centers to the cloud.

Admins must be able to both create and support these workload types, as well as decide where these workloads belong. Virtual admins' roles are expanding beyond the technical aspect to the budgeting and operational side of IT -- something that might be more of a challenge than admins think.

An increasing number of admins must also adopt big data skills, such as the ability to deal with vast amounts of data that make it difficult to perform backups and migrations. These bricks of data can severely limit what admins can accomplish. Add big data to the continued push for microsegmentation with NSX and continued optimization of existing systems, and admins have a pretty full year ahead.

Stuart BurnsStuart Burns

Stuart Burns, virtualization and Linux expert: Data center automation and containers

The very nature of virtualization is changing. In 2020, there will be a call for classic virtualization skills, such as on-premises knowledge. But admins with additional skills will fare a lot better.

Virtualization can no longer stand alone. Automation will soon take over virtual system management and admins who can script and utilize APIs with PowerShell and PowerCLI will have an easier time managing workloads. Employment opportunities will also be easier to find as PowerShell and PowerCLI scripting is a transferable skill across a Wintel system.

2020 is also a time for admins to acquire cloud skills because more companies are adopting a cloud-first model for application deployment. As to which cloud offerings admins should learn about comes down to personal preference. The two long-term cloud providers on the market are Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS. Whether admins rely on Hyper-V or vSphere will ultimately sway their decision.

Another virtualization skill admins should consider is containerization, more specifically Docker. A majority of companies are developing their own open source Docker stacks. This isn't in replacement of classic virtualization. Rather, these Docker stacks are a complement to virtualization. Developers are ever more moving toward containerization, but classic virtualization offerings such as VMware are well-established in the industry.

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