Data Infrastructure Server Storage I/O Tradecraft Trends
Data Infrastructure server storage I/O network and associated tradecraft are your skills, experiences, insight as well as tricks of the trade, profession and job function (read more about what is a data infrastructure here).
This is the second of a two-part series exploring data infrastructure along with serve storage I/O and related tradecraft. Read part one of this series here.
As a refresher from part one, data infrastructure encompasses servers, storage, I/O and networking along with associated hardware, software, services and management tasks including data protection among others. Tradecraft is knowing about tools, technologies, and trends in your primary domain as well as adjacent focus areas. However, tradecraft is also about knowing how and when to use different technologies, tools with various techniques to address different scenarios.
Trends involving tradecraft include capturing existing experiences and skills from those who are about to retire or simply move on to something else, as well as learning for those new to IT or servers, storage, I/O, and data infrastructure hardware, software, and services. This means being able to find a balance of old and new tools, techniques, and technologies, including using things in new ways for different situations.
Part of expanding your tradecraft skill set is knowing when to use different tools, techniques, and technologies from proprietary and closed to open solutions, from tightly integrated to loosely integrated, to bundled and converged, or to a la carte or unbundled components, with do-it-yourself (DIY) integration.
Tradecraft also means being able to balance when to make a change of technology, tool, or technique for the sake of change vs. clinging to something comfortable or known, vs. leveraging old and new in new ways while enabling change without disrupting the data infrastructure environment or users of its services.
A couple of other trends include the convergence of people and positions within organizations that may have been in different silos or focus areas in the past. One example is the rise of Development Operations (also known as DevOps), where instead of separate development, administration, and operations areas, they are a combined entity. This might be déja vu for some of you who grew up and gained your tradecraft in similar types of organizations decades ago; for others, it may be something new.
Regarding fundamental tradecraft skills, if you are a hardware person it is wise to learn software; if you are a software person, it is advisable to acquire some hardware experience. Also, don’t be afraid to say “I do not know” or “it depends on on” when asked a question. This also means learning how information technology supports the needs of the business, as well as learning the technology the business uses.
Put another way, in addition to learning server storage I/O hardware and software tradecraft, also learn the basic tradecraft of the business your information systems are supporting. After all, the fundamental role of IT is to protect, preserve, and serve information that enables the company or organization; no business exists just to support IT.
How to develop tradecraft?
There are many ways, including reading this book along with the companion websites as well as other books, attending seminars and webinars, participating in forums and user groups, as well as having a test lab to learn and try things. Also, find a mentor you can learn from to help capture some of his or her tradecrafts, and if you are experienced, become a mentor to help others develop their tradecraft.
Toolbox tips, reminders, and recommendations:
- Create a virtual, software-defined, and physical toolbox.
- Include tip sheets, notes, hints, tricks, and shortcuts.
- Leverage books, blogs, websites, tutorials, and related information.
- Implement a lab or sandbox to try things out
- Do some proof of concepts (POC) and gain more experience
Get some hands-on, behind-the-wheel time with various technologies to gain insight, perspective, and appreciation of what others are doing, as well as what is needed to make informed decisions about other areas. This also means learning from looking at demos, trying out software, tools, services, or using other ways to understand the solution. Knowing about the tools and technology is important; however, so too is knowing how to use a tool (techniques) and when along with where or for what. This means knowing the tools in your toolbox, but also knowing when, where, why, and how to use a given tool (or technology), along with techniques to use that tool by itself or with multiple other tools.
Additional tips and considerations include:
- Expand your social and technical network into adjacent areas.
- Get involved in user groups, forums, and other venues to learn and give back.
- Listen, learn, and comprehend vs. only memorizing to pass a test.
- Find a mentor to help guide you, and become a mentor to help others.
- Collaborate, share, respect and be respected; the accolades will follow.
- Evolve from focus on certificates or credentials to expansion of experiences.
- Connect with others to expand your network
Where to learn more
Continue reading more and expanding your tradecraft experiences with the following among other resources:
What this means
Remember that tradecraft is skills, experiences, tricks, and techniques along with knowing what as well as how to use various related tools as part of what it is that you are doing. Your data infrastructure tradecraft is (or should be):
- Essential skills and experiences spanning different technologies and focus areas
- Knowing various techniques to use new and old things in new as well as hybrid ways
- Expanding awareness into adjacent areas around your current focus or interest areas
- Leveraging comprehension, understanding application of what you know
- Evolving with new knowledge, experiences, and insight about tools and techniques
- Hardware, software, services, processes, practices, and management
- From legacy to software-defined, cloud, virtual, and containers
Part of server storage I/O data infrastructure tradecraft is understanding what tools to use when, where, and why, not to mention knowing how to adapt with those tools, find new ones, or create your own.
Remember, if all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. On the other hand, if you have more tools than you know what to do with, or how to use them, perhaps fewer tools are needed along with learning how to use them by enhancing your skillset and tradecraft.
In-between the known data infrastructure server, storage, I/O network, converged infrastructure (CI), hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI), Docker and other containers, cloud, hardware software-defined known, and unknown is your tradecraft. The narrow the gap between the known and the unknown as well as how to apply your experience is the diversity of your tradecraft.
Ok, nuff said for now
Greg Schulz – Microsoft MVP Cloud and Data Center Management, vSAN and VMware vExpert. Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier) and twitter @storageio. Watch for the spring 2017 release of his new book "Software-Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials" (CRC Press).
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