It must have occurred to you as well, I’m sure.
You start thinking: “what does it take to be successful in the Cloud era”?
I ask myself that question pretty much every day, and I must confess I have not given myself a satisfying answer yet, simply because I don’t think there is one.
Nevertheless, I wanted to share with you my thoughts, hoping to be of some help to those of you who are struggling to keep up and are looking for some inspiration on where to head next.
IT has always been a fast-moving industry, where learning new skills was necessary to stay afloat and keep competing in the job market.
Let’s start with that.
I vividly remember the day when my dad brought home the first laptop I had ever seen (I think it was a Toshiba T100LE).
I spent hours playing space invaders and – oh boy! – I had tons of fun.
Those days were certainly when the big IT revolution started happening, but I also am confident in saying that the pace of change during those days was not nearly as fast as the one we’re experiencing today.
Until 10 years ago, the developer community was an impenetrable chast that you could be part of just if you worked for a big software house (see IBM/Microsoft/Corel/Sun/etc…) and was pretty much a black box for everyone else.
The advent of Linux and the disruption caused by Opensource overturned this model. Today – everyone can raise a PR on Github or contribute to an opensource project, if they have what it takes.
The developer community is no more an elite, but a category everyone can belong to. This democratisation led – as a primary byproduct – to the proliferation of projects, tools and technologies.
I am not sure if you have seen this picture before.
This is the project landscape of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (https://landscape.cncf.io/). The CNCF alone has visibility of 700+ projects. And there there’s the Linux Foundation with many more…where does it end?
The challenge we have in front of us is multi-faceted.
- Where and how do I start learning?
- Which technologies do I focus on?
- How am I supposed to deal with FOMO?
In the following paragraphs, I am going to tell you my experience, and by no means I think there’s a one-size-fits-all solution. But following others helped me enormously, and I hope someone will find some help/inspiration from what I’m about to explain.
Where and how do I start learning?
Curiosity is the fundamental ingredient of this recipe. If you’re not curious about what that new technology does, you’re out.
If your boss outpours a long list of acronyms and buzzword like a machine-gun, don’t let it slip away. Keep a mental note and go back to those voids later on, so next time she/he does that again, you can keep them honest because you know what they’re talking about.
You need to feel the hunger. Be always craving knowledge to keep raising your own personal bar.
There’s tons of scientific evidence that the exercise of keeping notes is not just useful to remind ourselves about things, but also to reduce stress levels, as your brain consumes resources to keep things in. Don’t use those to memorise your to-do-list!
Use whichever tool you’re comfortable with. A to-do-list app works wonders (I use https://todoist.com), but pen-and-paper also is a very powerful thing.
Download an RSS reader NOW. Best if you have a tablet, but desktop/web versions also exist. I use (https://feedly.com)
That is the easy bit. The difficult one is picking the blogs/resources/feeds that you want to keep your eyeballs on.
That is a continuous refinement operation that will take time. If you need somewhere to start from, this is my OPML file.
There’s a ton of great podcasts out there, on any topic you can think of. Just pick your favourites and don’t hesitate to dump them if they’re not interesting.
Most of the best conferences are nowadays recorded and available on Youtube. Subscribe to channels and keep yourself up-to-date by watching tons of (free!) videos.
Which technologies do I focus on?
This is a very difficult question, and one I ask myself every single day. In the end, time is a finite resource (unfortunately) and you need to pick your battles.
I use three criteria to come up with a list of topics that I devote most of my education time to.
- Passion: pick something that you’re passionate about or you think is really cool.
- Business relevance: pick something that can help generate value for your business.
- Career relevance: pick something that is going to help you in your career going forward.
My current Top 5 looks like this (yes! I keep a list):
- Networking of all kinds:
- Cloud Networking
- Data Centre Networking
- Network automation and modelling
- Managed Kubernetes solutions (EKS/GKE)
- Kubernetes Networking (CNI plugins: Calico, Cilium)
- Network Policy
- Public Cloud Technologies
Ultimately, if you are hungry for knowledge, there will always be something you would have liked to know better. Let it go!
Develop the technical acumen that allows you to roughly understand what something is about, so that you can entertain a high-level conversation about it.
How am I supposed to deal with FOMO?
I honestly don’t know. I interpret FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) as a symptom that the drive to improve myself is alive and kicking.
You need to live with FOMO, but don’t let it become a problem. Meditate, enjoy life, see the bigger picture.
Since the beginnings of my career in IT, I worked for some phenomenal managers. Yes. I have been very lucky.
One thing I learnt from them is that what it takes to be a leader is not only competence and decision-making capabilities.
By the way, the way I define leadership is not in terms of “power” or “career”. A leader to me is whoever is looked up to by others and helps others give their best and shine.
Every morning, when I wake up, I ask myself: “how can I be a leader today?”.
But what does this all have to do with the scope of this post?
Well, I think that leadership is also about demonstrating that when times are tough, perhaps because your skills are a bit outdated, you step up and give everything you’ve got to show the world you’re humble enough to learn new basics, start again, every day.
What are you waiting for?