The storage market has gone through quite an evolution over the last few decades. In the early days, hardware dominated. Then came the era of software supremacy. The hardware underpinned a software layer that largely contained the bells and whistles. More recently, software-defined storage (SDS) has changed the focus as has reliance on the cloud.
Yet, storage software remains a vital area of IT infrastructure. Here are five of the top skills to keep you ahead of the trends in the storage software job market:
See more: The Storage Software Market
1. Upskill to Software-Defined Storage
Software-defined storage separates storage software from its underlying hardware. This frees storage software from the constraints of traditional network attached storage (NAS) and storage area network (SAN) architectures. The development of SDS marked the end of the era of dominance held by proprietary storage hardware, which provided far more flexibility. SDS is one element of hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) systems which have grown in popularity.
“More focus on software-defined storage for traditional storage software personnel will open up the job market,” said Greg Schulz, an analyst at StorageIO Group.
“But keep in mind that you also need to gain a good understanding of storage hardware, servers, networks, and services.”
2. Become Multi-Domain
Trying to stay rigidly in an internal storage silo won’t cut it anymore. Those taking that approach could find themselves looking for a new job. Over the last few years, storage job descriptions have shifted. Storage professionals are being required to dig deeper into networking and security practices that were once someone else’s domain. In departments deploying HCI, for example, the storage specialist role has been dismantled in favor of a broader virtualization administrator. In larger IT organizations, roles have become more diverse. What once were very manufacturer-centric skills are now being expanded to include multiple types of on-premises and cloud storage software and technologies.
“For many storage software professionals, it’s an inviting transformation, made easier by bite-size training curriculum from online tutorials available through Skillsoft and Udemy,” said Augie Gonzalez, director of technical marketing at DataCore Software.
“The chance to experiment with virtual sandbox configurations that they stand up and take down quickly is appealing — even fun. I’ve heard some of them say that their day-to-day functions are far more rewarding and make them more versatile, opening doors to future employment opportunities.”
3. Add Management Skills
Gonzalez with DataCore Software added that the lines are blurring between storage management and storage software jobs.
Those skilled in storage software, therefore, should incorporate as many storage management skills as possible, and vice-versa.
What appears to be happening is that the individual functions that used to belong to distinct areas of storage software — mirroring, fault tolerance, snapshots, and more — are largely becoming incorporated into larger storage management suites. These systems provide all the necessary functions but also encompass broad management capabilities across the infrastructure.
See more: Storage Software Trends
4. Encompass Heterogeneity
There was a time when it was highly profitable to be an expert on EMC or NetApp software, a specialist in IBM middleware, or someone who could configure software for Dell IP SANs.
Anyone sticking to that approach is going to find engagements diminishing steadily over time. What is needed in the modern world of storage software is the ability to span heterogeneous systems and move beyond a one-vendor specialty. These days, people don’t tend to keep only one storage vendor’s gear in the shop.
“In 2022, users will demand an all-inclusive software solution that provides vendor-agnostic file migration, replication, and synchronization across heterogeneous storage environments, including disk, tape, and public, or private clouds,” said Surya Varanasi, CTO at StorCentric.
“In doing so, users will eliminate data silos, improve employee productivity, and deliver an additional layer of data protection.”
5. Analytics Could be a Big Value Add
Analytics is big business. According to Quince Market Insights, the global data analytics market is worth an estimated $25 billion in 2021. With a projected annual growth rate of 25% through at least 2030, it is set to be one of the strongest areas in all of technology.
Those in the storage software field, therefore, would be wise to piggyback on this trend and use it to have their skills in heavy demand. By combining storage software skills with analytics savvy, they can help the enterprise mine the vast repositories of data sitting in storage arrays, NAS filers, and archives. This can help business leaders isolate trends that would otherwise be lost.
“Because the importance of data for the enterprise has never been greater, those IT pros that have an in-depth understanding of data science will excel,” said Vadim Vladimirskiy, CEO of Nerdio.
“IT pros should become experts in the tools and techniques to extract and analyze business-level data today to better inform executive decisioning. In the future, IT pros should refine their ability to link, share, and analyze information across applications with robust data pipelines and automated workflows that can move data from one place to another, while keeping departments throughout the business in sync.”
See more: Storage Software Engineer Job Market