The Forging of the new Network/VMware/Storage Professional

When I first started out in College I needed a work study job. Since I liked to help people with their computer problems I applied and was hired for a position doing phone and in person support for the University. One of the best things about starting out at a school they don’t mind teaching. Our trainer said that in previous years new employees would be slotted into being Windows or Mac or UNIX support. He said we would be Wunder-Cons (our title was consultant instead of help desk dude). We had the privilege of having to support all of it. This thrust me into the world IT no matter what the piece of paper from USC said I was a Bachelor of.

I believe a new kind of Wunder-Consultant/Engineer is being made. With the announcement of the Nexus 1000v last fall the line between Network Engineer and Datacenter/Server Engineer is getting blurred. The SAN and Server Engineers have had this tension for a while now. Virtualization is a fun technology to learn but who gets the responsibility? I have seen where the SAN team owns the ESX’s and the Server team operates the VM’s like they are physical. The Network team not trusting or understanding why they want a bunch of 1GigE trunk ports. Across larger organizations it would look different but the struggle may be just the same. Who is in control of the VM’s? Are they secure? Who gets called at 1am when something dies? This is internal to the IT department and does not consider that Sales doesn’t want to share memory with accounting.

I can see these technologies pushing engineers into being jacks of all trades. To be a truly Architect level in VMware today you must be awesome with storage and servers. You have to be able to SSH into an ESX, choose the right storage for an application, and setup templates of Windows 2003. That is an easy day. You already will have to troubleshoot IO (because all problems get blamed on the virtualization first).

With the Nexus 1000v I picture the Virtualization Admins learning the skills to configure and troubleshoot route/switch inside and outside the Virtual Infrastructure. Add to that Cisco’s push this year with 10GigE and FCoE and their own embedded virtualization products. The lines between job duties are getting blown away.

Who is poised to become the experts in this realm? The network, server or storage admins? In this economy it may be good to know how to do all three jobs. I am sure corporations would love to pay just one salary to perform these tasks.

Randomly I though how would this relate to SOX? Could it pose any problems with compliance? I will save that for next time.

Written on February 3, 2009