A few months ago, I had the distinct honor of sitting down with Kit Colbert to discuss the virtualization career journey. Kit is a legend in the technology community. Having helped create vMotion and Storage vMotion, contributed to other core features in vSphere, and been involved in several major shifts at VMware (vRealize, EUC, cloud native), his impact in the virtual data center space is monumental. I remember first seeing Kit on stage at VMworld ten years ago presenting on virtual machine memory management. Even then I didn’t think he was from this world! So, to sit down with this giant to talk about career growth was nothing short of awesome.
During our meeting, I shared with him my experience moving through my career. I discussed my career progression, several of the roles I had filled, the new technologies I learned along the way, and the mindset I thought was crucial for being successful in this field. I shared my passion for learning and how I used the attainment of certifications as one key path for learning and growth. We discussed the growth mindset, including openness to new ideas and the willingness to work well with others. And we talked about time management and prioritization to maximize focus and energy on keeping current in the ever-changing landscape of technology.
This interview and Kit’s interviews with several other virtualization professionals provided the basis for The Virtualization Professional’s Career Guide. This is a concise guide written to provide insights and advice to those who are starting the virtualization career journey or looking to leverage the skills gained on this journey to springboard into adjacent technology disciplines. The guide offers a map to continued growth and opportunity by including stories from other professionals’ paths, a skills checklist, and incredibly valuable tips to maximize the journey.
But there is an underlying premise in this guide that makes it all the more compelling.
The premise here is that virtualization professionals will play a key role in digital transformation and modernization. Because virtualization touches so much of the infrastructure – compute, network, storage, hardware, apps, etc. – the VI admin has to understand the infrastructure holistically. Being good at virtualization means being good at adjacent infrastructure. And because VI admins understand this, they are in a unique position to break through silos, be involved in IT strategy, and help the organization take advantage of the flexibility and efficiency that virtualization offers and move toward IT modernization. As technology advances into new areas, the skills of the virtualization professional will be invaluable in this evolution.
With this premise, the guide shares how these skills coupled with broader understanding of the infrastructure can be leveraged to advance one’s career into other emerging areas. Beyond the traditional infrastructure, we see the growth of hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). And beyond the traditional data center, we see the mainstream adoption of cloud services. VI admins have the core skills necessary to design, build, and manage hyperconverged infrastructure and cloud-based services, helping organizations move from on-premises to hybrid and multi-cloud models.
Along with the proliferation of cloud, we see cloud-native apps along with Kubernetes gaining ground in organizations. VMware is capitalizing on this shift and providing a runway for VI admins with the integration of containers into vSphere 7. They’ve brought the mindshare and tooling of Kubernetes into the interface we already know, making it easier than ever to learn new skills in app modernization. They’re essentially bringing it to our doorstep!
VMware has already long been enabling VI admins to learn the ropes of automation, Infrastructure as Code, and the overall DevOps approach. With their cloud management products and commitment to building and empowering the coding community, it’s hard not to develop these skills that are quickly becoming the standard even in the most traditional environments.
And finally, with the advances of Edge, AI, IoT, ML, mobile, and other emerging tech, along with VMware’s involvement in each of these areas, virtualization pros are in a unique position to be exposed to these shifts and leverage this position into advancing their own careers. This will create more opportunities to expand into these new areas that will continue to grow at an increasingly rapid pace.
We virtualization professionals are uniquely poised to take advantage of this inflection point in technology where so many shifts are occurring. We have an ideal springboard with our skills built on the foundation of data center virtualization. But it requires that we continue to learn, stay current, and leverage our existing skill sets by building on them. Thankfully we have access to an abundance of online training resources as well as a robust community to help us along the way. I’ve never seen a community as enthusiastic and vibrant as the #vCommunity! Conferences, VMUGs, and Twitter are just a few avenues to help one get quickly exposed and connected into this amazing community.
A career in VMware virtualization is an incredibly rewarding journey. I encourage anyone who is looking for career advice in this field to check out the Virtualization Professional’s Career Guide or any of the resources below:
- The Virtualization Professional’s Career Guide
- Video of Kit Colbert’s keynote presentation, the VI Admin Career Guide (This was presented at the October 22, 2020, VMUG virtual conference on Professional Development and vSphere.)
- The Office of the CTO blog post introducing the career guide
- VMworld On-Demand Video Library
- VMware Learning Zone (bonus, click here for one year of premium content if enrolled by Oct 31!)