Whether it's for storage or servers, network or desktop, enterprises have realized the advantages that virtualization brings to the table. At the time of an economic recession, where enterprises are going 'green', virtualization is the best answer to cope with. Here we look at virtualization as a career, and its scope for professionals
Virtualization technology is a buzzword in the industry but has been in the market for quite long. Organizations have been adopting this technology primarily because of the economic benefits, as it consolidates resources and reduces IT capital costs. The current economic slowdown has forced organizations to better leverage their IT resources, and virtualization has become that golden solution that helps in optimization, and most efficient use of the IT resources. Also the 'Green IT' bandwagon that many of the enterprises are jumping upon, has also given Virtualization the impetus to be one of the hot technologies of last year.
As virtualization adoption continues to grow, the need for virtualization solution architects, developers, implementation specialists and virtualization administrators will continue to grow as well. The demand is high and there is a dearth of expert professionals in virtualization domain who can cater to this unprecedented demand.
Why is Virtualization hot?
The main reason is - economic benefits. Virtualization is the technology that enables sharing of resources, more specifically hardware resources between machine and application virtualization. There is a layer of extraction which is created on the hardware that enables the virtualization software to efficiently allocate the resources to the supported environment and this can happen on demand. In addition to the efficient use of hardware resources, management of the infrastructure, high availability of resources -which is very important in an enterprise, increased security and disaster recovery are some of the main benefits of hosting a virtualization environment. For example, server virtualization can subdivide a single physical server of higher configuration into multiple 'virtual servers' that can be deployed as the need arises. It eliminates the need for multiple physical servers, which would not only cost more, but will also require more space and will remain underutilized for most of the time. Enterprises that want their servers to be used at 80- 85 percent are increasingly adopting virtualization for their servers in their data-centers.
The advantages virtualization delivers are compelling enough for IT managers and CIOs to overlook. As virtualization continues to integrate itself into all aspects of IT infrastructures, the need for professionals who understand the technology is only going to increase.
Types of virtualization
When talked about virtualization, people generally refer to server virtualization, which in turn is just consolidation of the available server resource. However virtualization is not confined to servers, but has multiple types that can be briefed as follows:
1. Server virtualization: It separates an operating system from the underlying hardware resources.
2. Desktop virtualization: The remote manipulation of a computer desktop, based on traditional thin-client model.
3. Resource virtualization: The virtualization of specific system resources like storage or network.
4. Grid computing: The cluster of multiple discrete
computers into a larger mega computer to harness maximum processing power.
5. Application virtualization: The hosting of application on alien hardware and providing that as a service remotely. Which happens to be like a SaaS-based model, but the application is actually streamed from the hosting server, while the client will be able to access that application as their system's native application and not through a browser as the case with SaaS based service.
|The biggest challenge in virtualization today is security. Since virtualization melts down physical barriers of separation, data and network level security becomes a big question
Would you throw some lights on the latest trends in virtualization domain?
Virtualization techniques have existed for a very long time. IBM started working on virtualization techniques in the 70s, if you remember CP/CMS. Recently, infrastructure outsourcing organizations like the hosting providers have started marrying virtualization to grid computing. Cloud computing is a product of that. Clouds have reduced the barrier of entry into the world of on-demand computing like never before. IBM announced its virtual desktop environment just a few days ago. There is a lot of buzz going around web-based operating system and rich clients for desktop virtualization. Virtualized Storage Area Networks is another area which has come upto speed with server virtualization too. IDC projects that by 2011 the market for virtualization services will reach about $12 billion. In November this year, VMware announced its Mobile Virtualization Platform (MVP) which will allow various operating systems like Symbian, Linux and Windows Mobile to co-exist in the same phone. It's becoming really exciting and fast.
Sr. Consultant - Test Engineering, GlobalLogic
The biggest challenge in virtualization today is security. Since virtualization melts down physical barriers of separation, data and network level security becomes a big question. The adoption of virtualization techniques by organizations has been rather slow because of security concerns.
What are the skill sets needed for an entry into the field? What certifications can a professional opt to head-start his career in this domain?
Systems knowledge is required for software development careers in this domain. Knowledge of the Linux kernel along with skills in C and C++ is sought after. Organizations like VMware are looking for people with such skills in India. Sysadmin skills with knowledge of storage technologies like SAN are hot too and much sought for. Storage network certifications like SNIA SAN certification will definitely help. Virtualization in storage networks is coming up very fast. Last year, VMware announced certification in storage virtualization. Red Hat offers Enterprise Linux Virtualization training for Red Hat Certified Technicians (RHCT) or individuals with equivalent knowledge.
The scope of a career in this sphere spans multiple functions - software development, systems administration, quality engineering, systems support and marketing. System administrators who can administer a cloud which is based on virtualization techniques, quality engineers who can test desktop virtualization software, kernel developers who can advance the technology, are few of the career opportunities for the virtualization experts. Earlier employers looked for candidates who could fit into the traditional IT roles like administrators, architects etc. having some experience in virtualization. But today, they have recognized the need for professionals who have acquired skills around virtualization technology. Also as per a salary survey conducted in US, the virtualization skills are twice as valuable as the average IT skills. Therefore, acquiring virtualization knowledge can also add to your career growth.
A networking administrator will be apt for undertaking the server or storage virtualization of the enterprise landscape. So, gaining knowledge of virtualization can enhance the career growth aspects of networking or storage professionals. Additionally, organizations are investing on training their existing IT staff for virtualization solutions and technologies. Thus, fresh graduates can find opportunities for themselves with such organizations. Virtualization as a career is ideal for someone who is looking to learn on-the-job.
President India Operations, NetApp
Virtualization is very hot right now – that's not news to anyone in IT. In addition, virtualization-related jobs are also in serious demand. Demands for an engineer with virtualization skills are extremely increasing while the supply of virtualization expertise, particularly for certified engineers is lacking. Companies are embracing virtualization trend to look for architects and engineers with experience in managing traditional systems to meet their commitments and business strategy. Most virtualization jobs across the world call for VMware experience, yet Microsoft and Citrix's virtualization offering gains market share, it's likely that job demand will grow. Almost all virtualization companies have R&D ODCs (offshore development center) in APAC region, especially in India. Considering virtualization as future business trend, many companies are acting towards porting their desktop and server applications to work in virtualization environment. Since most of the companies prefer IT professionals with virtualization skills, availability of engineers/professionals with required skills in India/APAC region is lacking.
An IT professional who wants a lucrative career in this domain should have to be well-versed in many areas. A bachelors degree is of course a must, preferably an Engineering or Computer
Science degree, but this is not a mandate as long as one has degree with good work experience in the IT industry. The skill sets are varied and depend on what field of virtualization one wants to get into –development, support, services or sales and marketing. For example, if you are interested in R&D or Testing, then you need to have a high level of understanding of operating systems and related skills as desired by the level of the job. Knowledge of network and storage stacks along with the design and implementation knowledge virtualization solutions can be useful for the virtualization of the data-center. As virtualization is an enabling technology, consulting and system integration skills will be needed to help companies determine where virtualization fits in their existing infrastructures.
DM, CME (Communications Media & Entertainment), Infosys Technologies.
The virtualization domain itself is very bifurcated into areas of expertise like server virtualization, storage virtualization and even there is virtualization of network. For a professional moving into virtualization domain, he can choose his area of interest of expertise amongst storage, network, desktop and application virtualization. Apart from academic knowledge, one should try to get certified training. Other career path comprises administrative role that is based on the kind of products that are used to enable virtualization, so you have either a server administrator or network administrator, who decide which products will match their organizational demands.
In a visualized environment, anything from hardware to application level can impact the infrastructure. Thus, a virtualization professional is in charge of everything, he has to be highly skilled in operating systems, storage, networking, security, and even performance measurement.
Business Manager, ESS Software, Technology Solutions Group, Hewlett Packard India Sales
Virtualization has been in the market for a long time. Professionals who want to move forward their career in this domain, not only need to consider the concept of virtualization but should also look at the end-results of virtualization. One must understand the different applications of virtualization technologies like desktop virtualization, network virtualization, storage virtualization and workspace virtualization. With so many different types of technologies available out there and with its growing popularity in the market, one has to identify and understand the virtualization approach and its end-results. If one is starting career in this arena, please be clear about the approach and challenges of this industry. A person with strong business acumen and IT knowledge can be the ideal candidate. There is an opportunity for the landscape to expand. Future is really bright in this industry.
Though the best knowledge is gained from hands-on experience of handling the virtualization projects, a certificate only authenticates your knowledge about the virtualization technology. There are many virtualization solutions available from different vendors, and each of them provide their own certification courses for their products. VMware, which dominate the market has both education programs as well as certifications designed to help IT professionals build world-class virtual environments. The programs are designed for varied positions, including systems administrators, design architects, operators and managers who are interested in enhancing their knowledge and skills of VMware Infrastructure for datacenter and desktop environments.
Certifications in Virtualization
||What you stand to Gain
|VMware Certified Professional
||Gain in-depth skill to demonstrate expertise in virtual infrastructure and is degigned for any technical individual
||Mandatory to participate in Vmware training class to appear for VCP exam
|VMware Certified Design Expert
||Certifies expert-level knowledge of design architects for Vmware enterprise deployments
||Must be certified VCP on Vmware Infrastructure 3
|Citrix Certified Administrator for Citrix XenApp 5 Platinum
||Administrators taking aaplication virtualization as career path will gain knowledge of XenApp 5 Platinum
||Apart from core exam, pass two other exam from option of four exams
|CCA for Citrix XenServer 5 Platinum
||Administrators taking aaplication virtualization as career path will gain knowledge of XenServer 5 Platinum
||To get certified one has to clear a core exam and one more from option of two
|CCA for Citrix XenDesktop 2 Platinum
||Provides knowledge across XenDesktop 2 for adminis taking desktop virtualization as career
||Apart from core exam, pass two other exam from option of four exams
|Windows Server 2008 Virtualization
||Gain knowledge to maintain Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V for virtualizaed environments
||Clear Exam 70-652 to get Technology Specialist certification. Course also available as E-Learning
|Red Hat Enterprise Linux Virtualization
||RHEL sys admin install, configure, and manage virtual hosts on RHEL
Likewise, there are certifications and online teaching available for the Microsoft's Hyper-V technology. Right now VMware, Microsoft and Xen are the three major players in the virtualization domain, as the enterprises adopt these solutions, the demand for their trained professionals on these technologies will also increase.
Virtualization is a lucrative career opportunity to opt for, but is highly beneficial for professionals who are in network or storage domain as they already have experience to leverage for the organization's virtualization infrastructure.