Sunday, September 12, 2010


7 Essential IT Skills You Need To Master

With the rapid pace of technology development and changes in business processes—and a lousy economic background—it’s more essential than ever to keep your IT skills top-notch.
I can honestly say that IT profession has changed more in the last few years than ever before. Some of these changes have been advances in technology, while others have been spurred by government regulations. - Brien Posey, MVP, is a freelance technical author with thousands of articles and dozens of books to his credit. You can visit Brien’s Web site at
According to Brien, IT is almost unrecognizable from what it was even five years ago. So how is an IT professional supposed to keep up with all these changes? It isn’t easy, but there are certain skills you should be focusing on to ensure you don’t get left behind. 

Here’s a look at the top 10 essential IT skills for today.

1. Windows PowerShell
Windows PowerShell is different. It's different because text processing is not the reason [[Windows PowerShell]] exists. Existing tools do that just fine. Windows PowerShell is object oriented. That means that to manipulate things in Windows, it has to fully participate in the application domain model. When you type a command in Windows PowerShell, you are invoking a specific, small-scale object that has a very specific purpose. Yes, you can invoke command line applications, too. You can also invoke GUI applications. But your old DOS batch files won't run anymore. Why? Windows PowerShell is not about text processing, it's about object handling.
A thorough understanding of Windows PowerShell is essential because it’s starting to show up in more and more Microsoft products. For example, in both Exchange Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2010, the GUI-based management tool is built on top of Windows PowerShell. This means that any administrative action you can do from the GUI, you can also do from the command line or through a Windows PowerShell script. 
It’s increasingly difficult to be an effective administrator unless you understand and know how to effectively use Windows PowerShell.

2. Server Virtualization 
Server virtualization is the masking of server resources, including the number and identity of individual physical servers, processors, and operating systems, from server users. The server administrator uses a software application to divide one physical server into multiple isolated virtual environments. The virtual environments are sometimes called virtual private servers, but they are also known as guests, instances, containers or emulations.
Almost every organization uses server virtualization to a certain degree. Therefore, understanding how server virtualization works is an essential skill for any network administrator.

You don’t need to learn the ins and outs of every single virtualization products on the market, but it’s important to achieve competency with at least two different server virtualization platforms. Learning at least two platforms will help you understand how server virtualization really works and get a good feel for the standard features and functions of the various virtualization products.
There are IT professionals whose entire careers are based on server virtualization. While it’s unrealistic to expect a general network administrator to have a comprehensive understanding of server virtualization, it’s a good idea to understand resource allocation, how to virtualize a physical server, and how to manage and maintain your virtual servers.
3. Failover Clustering
Failover clustering has been around for years in one form or another. Even so, it has only recently evolved into an essential technology. It adds fault tolerance to network servers. And the decline in server hardware prices is one last reason failover clustering has become an essential skill. For a long time, clustering solutions were cost-prohibitive. Today, server hardware is relatively inexpensive, so there’s no reason not to cluster your servers.

4. SAN Management
Another critical IT skill is storage area network (SAN) management. SANs are expensive and learning about SAN storage may not be essential for administrators in smaller organizations who will most likely never have to even touch a SAN.

Almost all of the cloud storage providers are operating SANs. If you subscribe to cloud-based storage, you may end up having to know some basic storage management techniques.

5. Recovery Techniques
Probably the strangest-sounding skill on this list is recovery techniques. However, there’s actually a good reason why recovery techniques are an essential IT skill. Disaster recovery used to be a lot simpler than it is now. A few years back for instance, disaster recovery might have involved inserting a tape, selecting the files that needed to be recovered, and clicking Go.

Today, things aren’t quite so simple. Almost every Microsoft server product has its own unique disaster recovery requirements. For example, you wouldn’t use the same techniques to back up and restore Exchange Server as you would use to back up and restore SharePoint. Server products such as Exchange, SharePoint and SQL Server all have very complex rules governing the way information must be backed up and restored in order to be successful. Furthermore, these criteria can change dramatically if the server that’s being backed up or restored is a part of a failover cluster or a distributed deployment.

Realistically, most IT professionals probably aren’t going to be intimately familiar with all of the intricate requirements associated with backing up and recovering various server products. Even so, it’s important to understand that such products have unique requirements. It’s equally important for IT pros to familiarize themselves with those requirements.

6. Traffic Management
Traffic management not just meant setting up firewalls to forward certain types of traffic to specific servers, while blocking other types of traffic. Those types of configurations are important, but traffic management is going to take on a different meaning and become much more critical in the not-too-distant future.

Eventually, most applications will likely run in the cloud. That means not many applications will be installed locally. As that scenario develops, organizations will find Internet bandwidth has become a scarce commodity. They’ll have little choice but to begin various bandwidth-throttling techniques. Realistically though, you can throttle different applications in different ways. After all, some applications are more critical or of a higher priority than others. The need for prioritizing cloud-based applications will require IT pros to learn all about traffic shaping.

7. Mobile Computing
The last essential skill is mobile computing. Even though mobile computing has been around in one form or another for at least 15 years, it has only been recently that people are really starting to take it seriously. Many mobile devices have come and gone.

Today, almost everyone has a smartphone of some sort. Modern smartphones are inexpensive, well-connected and capable of running a wide variety of applications. As such, mobile-device connectivity to corporate networks has become a major issue. It’s important for IT professionals to understand the security implications associated with mobile-device use, as well as the safeguards required when allowing employees to use mobile devices.


About bench3 -

Haja Peer Mohamed H, Software Engineer by profession, Author, Founder and CEO of "bench3" you can connect with me on Twitter , Facebook and also onGoogle+

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