It is kind-of mind blowing how much IT has changed in the last 5 –10 years.    Where were we in terms of virtualization 10 years ago?  There were virtualization products on the market but they were pretty much focusing on workstation virtualization.  The server virtualization market was pretty much non-existent. Even 5 years ago server virtualization still not dominant in most server rooms and data centers.  Lowering carbon footprint 10 years ago was only talked about by the screamers of “global warming”  issues.  Managing servers was done by people sitting down at a console looking at logs.  Going to the people that hold the purse strings for a new server that at the time probably cost a few thousand dollars was a waste of time unless there was a business unit that had a clear business need to purchase the hardware and software.  We as IT Administrators largely were reactive to situations.  The business unit needed to solve a problem and we helped them by deploying technology that they would pay for. As virtualization started taking off, we had to improve our negotiating skills and our knowledge of the business benefits of virtualization on our organizations.  In most cases, the money eventually came, for many it was easy and a clear choice, for others it was a tough sell and virtualization only came into play as machines had to be replaced.  

Now most are virtualizing and the skills of those IT administrators are of value but not nearly as valuable as others that have been virtualizing for years. A similar move is upon us and this move is MUCH, MUCH bigger than the virtualization movement.  In fact, I think it is even bigger than the GUI (Graphical User Interface) movement and the virtualization movement combined.  Those that jumped on the virtualization bandwagon are making more money and are happier than those that are not or those that are just beginning.  Everyone knows that experience is king in our world.  Those that learned early how to navigate the virtual technology and deliver compelling arguments to the money people have seen their careers grow and their value in the market place expand. 

The move to the cloud is even bigger and frankly harder.   Harder because so much was already saved on virtualization that to be able to do that yet again seems kind-of like pie in the sky.  In other cases, it is easier.  Easier because virtualization businesses with dozens or even hundreds of servers where obvious but what about the smaller companies with only a few servers?  For them it was almost impossible to justify.  That means it was almost impossible for them to keep up with the technology unless they did it in their lab at home.  With cloud, there is a very appealing savings in cost and infrastructure and most importantly capital expenditure for all businesses not just the big ones.  That means every IT person in the world will be getting smart on the technology when they figure out how important it is.  IT administrators are not generally known as business experts or as good sales people or great negotiators.  They are not known for being good at delivering a compelling argument.  That means IT administrators need to not only learn about the new technology, they now need to learn how to present a compelling argument in order to keep up with the rest of the world. 

Right now is the BEST time to start getting serious about both of these.  There are tons of  classes available from the community and from companies.  In fact, this coming week/weekend alone, I will be at one event to learn and present about both of these. On Friday I will be at Virtualization Deep Dive Day 2011 talking about Cloud with Bill Wilder called “Beyond Virtualization: What is the role of Virtualization in a Cloud
Computing Future?
” and improving your soft skills in a session called “Leveraging an Enormous Technology Community: Get The Answers You Need - When You Need Them”.  Then on Saturday Adam Moskowitz will be presenting on “Workplace Presentations 101
for IT Professionals
”.  Literally, in two days you could learn so much and get closer to you being one of the top 10 percent that understand the technology and have a good idea of how to deliver a compelling presentation about that technology.  Just in case you care, you learn 1000 times more from giving a presentation than you do from sitting in a presentation so if you go do Adams event you will also learn how to learn better. I am not suggesting you will learn everything you need to know in two days, but I do believe you will be much more confident and much better off than those that do not attend. These skills are not just for people like me that speak on a stage in front of hundreds of people.  It is for people that speak to user groups, people that want to learn how to get what they want out of the organization by delivering an impactful presentation one-to-one with the boss, one to many with business units, peers or direct reports, or any other presentation.  Presentations do not have to be a formal affair so I would encourage you to make the time and get involved with both of these events.  Links provided below.

If you missed these events, look for other ways to learn about cloud and about delivering the message to others.  Watch my blog as I will be doing many presentations and blog posts about this in the coming months.