Cloud technology changes how companies manage their IT infrastructure; instead of managing their own servers and storage farms, they rely on cloud providers to maintain those resources. The implications of this change go beyond simply how hardware is provisioned; it affects everything about how companies develop, deploy, and support their applications.
Data Center Role Changes
Companies that no longer run their own data centers may no longer need staff who specialize in narrow areas, such as storage architects. But that doesn't mean they don't need staff paying attention to data center concerns. Instead, they need staff who can understand multiple aspects such as storage, networking, and security, as well as evaluate the cloud provider's offerings to make sure they meet the company's needs.
Developer Role Changes
Developers who write applications that will run in the cloud may need to learn new APIs specific to the cloud provider. Because applications that run in the cloud need to be able to scale up and run on multiple independent servers, developers must now design applications with this in mind. Security becomes an even more important aspect of application design, especially when data from within the corporate network must be transmitted to a cloud application. Because cloud providers charge for the resources you use, developers need to start paying attention to how much memory, CPU, and storage their applications require.
Operations and Support Role Changes
Operations and support teams, including DevOps, will need to learn new methods of monitoring applications that run in the cloud. They will also need to learn new methods for deploying applications to the cloud. Teams that are used to having full access to their servers to investigate issues will need to adapt to the limited access granted by the cloud provider.
Technology Management Changes
With the growth of the cloud, the IT team isn't always driving technical change. Business departments that appreciate the cost savings of cloud computing are forcing their technology teams to adapt. Technology managers need to communicate effectively with their business partners, to clarify the benefits and risks of cloud computing, and ensure that technology choices continue to support the business needs.
The majority of IT professionals work to build or improve technologies, making them safer, faster, and more advanced. And then there are some who put their best efforts into exploiting those technologies — finding holes in them and attempting to tear them down.
They’re not malicious cyber-criminals. The descriptions are similar, but the motivations are entirely separate. So-called “white hat” hackers put their coding skills to work searching for chinks in the armor of software programs and platforms, which in turn helps the tech companies who design them improve the performance and safety of their products.
And sometimes, white-hat hackers get paid for exploiting the best of the best.
Google wants you to hack their products
For several years, software giant Google has been offering cash bounties to hackers and researchers who could find exploitable bugs in their offerings. One of the best-known of these rewards is the Pwnium competition, held for the fourth time annually in March 2014. The one-day hacking contest has served as a challenge for good-guy hackers to find a way into the company’s Chrome browser — all in the interests of making the Chrome experience safer for users.
Last year’s Pwnium 4 contest offered the highest rewards yet, with a total of $2.71828 million (the equivalent of the mathematical constant e) up for grabs. Google broke down the prize into six-figure rewards for each successful instance of:
- Browser or system-level compromise in guest mode or as a logged-in user ($110,000 bounty)
- Compromise with device persistence: guest to guest with interim reboot ($150,000 bounty)
For the 2014 event, thousands were awarded on-site, but there was only one confirmed big winner: $150,000 was awarded to a hacker known as Geohot. But the crucial takeaway from the competition was that Google Chrome is one of the safest browsers out there, hands down.
Ongoing rewards for exploiting Google offerings
Currently, no plans have been announced for Google to host Pwnium 5. However, the company maintains an ongoing Vulnerability Reward Program that pays hackers various bounties according to which product they manage to hack, and at what level.
Included in the eligible products for the reward program are the Chrome browser, any Google-owned web service including the search engine itself, YouTube and Blogger, the Google Play Store, and all Google-developed apps and extensions regardless of platform.
Applying technical skills in order to break technology might seem like an unusual career choice, but these friendly hackers help companies like Google make software, programs, and platforms safer and more functional for everyone by finding vulnerabilities before they can be exploited with malicious intent.
Applications can only work with IT infrastructures behind them, but traditional IT roles have separated the people who work on hardware and software. Developers work on software, and operations teams keep the infrastructure humming. This separation of duties works when application cycles last weeks or months. But with the explosive growth of apps and software-as-a-service, the cycle has shortened to days, or even minutes — and the gap between developers and operations can pose serious problems.
Enter the DevOps movement. Powered by the proven idea that developers and operations are faster and more efficient when they work in tandem, DevOps involves a range of tools, techniques, and methods that bring the two factions together, helping them hit higher speeds across larger infrastructures.
What’s holding DevOps back?
While everyone wants the higher IT harmony, greater agility, and shorter time to market that DevOps can deliver, not everyone has been able to successfully implement this strategy — and it’s not because of the technology. A new Microsoft-sponsored study found that cultural barriers between developers and operations are the largest obstacle to any DevOps program.
The study found that while 54 percent of IT departments and companies are trying DevOps strategies on small projects, and 71 percent have pockets of automation, only 37 percent currently have formal DevOps solutions in place. The primary issue for over half of the survey respondents without formal strategies is “overcoming cultural habits inside my organization/company,” while a further 37 percent said they just don’t understand what DevOps entails.
Using existing tools in consistent ways
Mature tools already exist for implementing DevOps strategies in IT departments and companies of all sizes. Successful products like Puppet, GuardRail, Ansible, and Chef are already paving the way for a harmonious developer-operations environment. What IT teams must consider is the existing mindset and differences in culture, and solutions that will encourage widespread use of these tools across the organization.
Focusing on company-wide buy-in and cooperation is the way forward for DevOps. And while the study puts forth the idea that organizations using the Microsoft platform are better positioned to implement DevOps successfully — naturally, since the survey was sponsored by Microsoft — there is a salient point in that Microsoft tools and systems are built to work together. What’s more, the software giant has recently adopted a more developer-friendly stance, with more room for open source third-party integration.
At the heart of the issue, the study states that a successful DevOps environment will let developers and operations use the tools they want to use, on a more homogenous platform that allows for easier deployment across the board. Companies that focus on collaboration between people first, and technology second, will realize the DevOps dream of speed and efficiency sooner.
Need help implementing – or understanding – DevOps? Contact the IT experts at The Armada Group today and let our experienced staff share their knowledge and know how with you!
When you’re hiring IT leadership, it’s important to get the right person into the position, the first time. But what should you look for in an IT executive? Often, technical and management skills top the list of desired qualities, but there’s a secret characteristic that can be just as or more important than tech credentials: Charisma.
This quality is hard to define, and it’s also one that’s typically looked down on in technical circles. People with charisma may be viewed as “all charm and no brains” — using a persuasive personality to hide the fact that they have no skills or knowledge whatsoever.
While this may occasionally be the case, the truth is that more IT professionals are picking up on the importance of “soft skills” in today’s business landscape, where an ability to relate to stakeholders and the C-suite can get more done than the most brilliant coding or engineering skills.
Why hiring for charisma is important
More and more, IT isn’t just about technical competence. The role of IT is not only to build and maintain systems, but also to effect change, bring others onboard in a strategic direction, and influence peers, department leaders, stakeholders, and customers within a variety of internal and external settings.
The best IT leaders need at least a reasonable, working knowledge of the technologies their companies use. But beyond a fundamental grasp, it may be less important for leaders to demonstrate strong technical skills, and more important to possess soft skills that fall under the broad category of charisma.
How to hire IT leaders for the right qualities
Many professions, including IT, will often promote people based on their current job performance — only to find that they’re not well equipped for a leadership position. For some reason, it’s harder to see when IT pros who truly shine in their roles may flop as a leader. For example, no one would place a star HR manager into a high-level developer role, but high-performing technical resources are routinely dropped into leadership positions without debate.
There’s no doubt IT requires a higher level of technical know-how, but the role of today’s IT leader is aligning with more traditional management roles. To hire the right person for an IT executive position, evaluate the role itself before the likely candidates. Are the responsibilities of this particular role geared toward interacting mainly with the rest of the IT team — or will this leader spend more time communicating with the C-suite, shareholders, and end users? For IT executives whose role is to bridge the tech department with key non-technical people, charisma is more important than hard skills.
IT as a relationship business
In the modern business environment, IT staff members at every level are expected to leave the server room and “sell” ideas, at least internally. For IT leaders, the ability to successfully defend both technical and strategic decisions, and to take command of a situation when problems arise, are increasingly crucial to the overall performance of your organization.
So when you’re promoting IT leaders, look for that elusive quality of charisma to place your company ahead of the curve.
Being a great leader — whether you’re already in an executive position or looking to be promoted to one — requires strong emotional intelligence. And an important part of emotional intelligence is the ability to keep negativity out of your communication and interaction with other people. Negative thinking and emotion prevents you from getting results both for yourself and with others. What’s more, negativity can spread stress like it’s contagious — studies have shown that negative thoughts transmit stress-producing hormones that affect those around you.
Even if you have high emotional intelligence, you may be putting out negative vibes without realizing it. Here are five subtle but common ways you might not know you’re being negative, and what to do if you spot yourself engaging in them.
Not accepting compliments
For many people, responding to compliments with a demurral is an instinctive reaction. If you’re told you did a good job, your instinct may be to downplay the sentiment by crediting someone else, insisting it wasn’t that hard, or even saying you were just lucky. You may think you’re being humble — but this type of reaction actually undermines your confidence and makes it harder for other people to trust your skills or abilities.
Instead of demurring, learn to accept compliments with grace (and a dash of humility). Own your positive actions or accomplishments, even if your response is a simple “thank you” with no further discussion on the subject of the compliment.
Negating a positive
Negative inferences happen when you make a positive statement, and then follow it up with something negative that undermines the effect. For example, you might say, “My last performance review was fantastic, but I’m still not making the salary I should.”
The first part of this statement is positive and worth both consideration and discussion. But when it’s followed immediately with negativity, the positive value goes out the window — and suddenly you’re one of those people who always sees the glass as half empty. Negative inferences crush enthusiasm and prevent others from taking your side.
Instead, keep your positive statements positive and focused on your options. For example, you might say, “My last performance review was fantastic, so now I’m going to work on presenting my accomplishments better so I can negotiate a higher salary.”
Reacting too quickly
When something goes wrong, people have a tendency to react — and in the heat of the moment, your reaction might be less than emotionally intelligent. For instance, if a team member says something unfortunate during a meeting, you might approach them after the meeting with a comment along the lines of, “That was a stupid thing to say!” This type of reaction is not constructive, and can quickly break down relationships.
A better way to handle moments like these is to focus on responding, instead of reacting. When you respond to a problem, issue, or negative situation, you give yourself time to consider what really happened and why it might have happened — and then formulate a thoughtful reply that is constructive and considerate.
“Yeah, but…” mode
Everyone’s said it from time to time. Someone makes a suggestion, and you want to agree, but you immediately calculate the problems with the idea and your response sentence starts with “Yeah, but…”
This opening is a blocker. The word “but” dismisses anything positive that came before it, and makes collaboration with other people difficult. If you find yourself saying “Yeah, but” frequently, people will lose interest in listening to you.
Instead of agreeing, and then immediately disagreeing, focus on validating ideas that you believe are worthy, and offering possible changes or alternatives for those that don’t quite seem there yet. Keep the “but” out of your responses.
Bringing others down to raise yourself up
Emotionally intelligent people understand that the path to success is not forged by blatantly stepping on others along the way. However, you could be engaging in a more subtle form of diminishing other people, through statements that contain gossip or put-downs — even if they seem innocuous.
Besides the risk of having these negative comments get back to the people you’ve made them about, the person you’re talking to may wonder what you’re saying about them to others. If you’re tempted to put someone else down in order to feel better, ask yourself what your real motivation is for making these damaging statements. It might be insecurity about your own performance, jealousy of someone else’s abilities, or simply just a bad habit of engaging in gossip.
This type of negativity can be the most difficult to overcome — but it’s also the most rewarding. When you have genuine respect and kindness for others, they’ll reciprocate, and you’ll be better positioned for leadership.
Want to learn more about being an emotionally intelligent leader? Contact the staffing and recruiting experts at The Armada Group. We can help you find – and retain – the best in IT management and professionalism.
The role of the IT manager is changing as rapidly as technology itself. And while the normal mode of operation for IT concerning internal end users used to be rigid control over technology choices, many of today’s CIOs and other IT leaders are realizing the benefits of saying “yes” to user requests for new technologies, while finding ways to maintain standards and mitigate risk.
In the past, IT managers were able to tell employees and end users that they had access to the best technology available — even if it wasn’t completely true. But today’s employees have access to the latest apps and industry information. They’re savvy, they know what’s out there, and they want the right tools for the job.
On the other hand, allowing access to any tool your employees want to use can create security risks and productivity issues. Here’s how to balance end user demands for new technologies with best practices and a degree of control, so you can bridge the gap for end users across departments.
Give end users tools that work
Many CIOs are realizing that when employees use tools they don’t have permission to use, it’s not because they’re contrary or looking to break the rules. They just want to get their jobs done — and if a tool helps them accomplish that, they’re going to use it. Often this means the tools IT has made available to them simply aren’t working well.
It’s important to make sure you’ve authorized tools, apps, and services that help employees do their jobs. You may have enterprise solutions in place that are confusing, or that don’t integrate well with existing systems. This is when employees start to look for workarounds in the form of easier tools that may or may not be authorized.
How can you figure out what users want? One strategy is to use a cloud visibility solution like Skyhigh to see what services employees are actually using — and instead of restricting usage, look for common needs and deploy solutions that address them. For example, if a lot of end users are engaged in file sharing, look into the app or apps that would work best for them without risking security, and authorize its use.
Collaborate on tech budgets
Even as technology expands and advances, many IT budgets are shrinking. The primary reason is that other departments are receiving higher budgets for technology investments — marketing, for example, typically invests heavily in analytics and Big Data strategies. For many organizations, marketing departments are becoming the largest software centers.
Rather than fight this shift, CIOs and IT managers would fare better by cooperating with other departments and gaining a say in how technology budgets are allocated across the organization.
Separate departmental decisions on IT spending can fragment an infrastructure and cause more headaches for IT. Instead, tech leaders should focus on working cross-departmentally and acting in an advisory capacity for marketing, sales, HR, and others with budgetary discretion. It’s easier to create a unified solution that successfully integrates with multiple systems from the start, than to throw a bunch of disparate systems together and try to patch things over after the investments have been made.
The new role of the IT manager is to bridge technology gaps for end users throughout the organization, and keep things running smoothly, efficiently, and securely. Being open to saying “yes” more often, and willing to cooperate with other departments, is the key to success in today’s business IT landscape. For more information on how to use this knowledge to benefit your organization, contact the IT recruiting experts at The Armada Group.
Working from home is a dream for many IT professionals. It’s great to imagine reducing your commute to a few steps down the hallway, wearing pajamas to work, and never having to deal with office politics again — not to mention being able to set your own schedule and rates, and making enough money to have an in-ground pool as your office.
But the fact is, while the work-at-home lifestyle is portrayed as easy and carefree, it’s not so easy to actually work while you’re at home, surrounded by endless distractions. It takes some serious discipline and practice to stay focused, but it can be done.
Here’s a great collection of must-read advice for staying productive while you work from home.
Let go of telecommuting myths
When you work from home, you’ll be your own boss and have plenty of free time — or will you? It’s important to realize, especially when you’re first starting out, that you’ll have to work hard for several different bosses on all the freelance IT projects you take to reach success (but ultimately, you have the final say in what you do or don’t work on).
Microsoft’s Crabby Office Lady takes a look at common telecommuting myths, and offers tips on getting work-from-home to work for you.
Learn the 10 Commandments (of working from home)
From actually getting ready for work in the morning — even though you’re not going anywhere — to making time for your physical and mental needs, this checklist is a must-read for anyone considering or already working in a telecommuting environment. The bonus commandment also helps you maintain your friendships, which will be invaluable when the isolation of working from home gets to you.
Thou shalt read and remember the 10 Commandments of Working From Home.
Find out if you’re the work-from-home type
Telecommuting is not the right choice for everyone. If you don’t work well without direction, or depend on interaction with other people to get you through the day, you may flounder when the only person holding you accountable and keeping you going is you. You also need to have a real working space, and the ability to separate your personal and professional lives.
Find out why Entrepreneur.com says that Working From Home is Hard Work.
Get the lowdown on eating well at home
A lot of people who work from home find their eating habits dropping drastically into the poor to disastrous range — they might end up constantly snacking at the computer, or “forget” to eat for hours (or days). It takes a little planning, but balancing your nutritional needs with your work-from-home lifestyle is essential for keeping up motivation and productivity.
Lifehacker discusses how to eat well while working from home.
Avoid becoming a hermit
Another common problem for telecommuters is the sense of isolation. Spending the majority of your day alone, when email may be your only contact with other people, can take a toll on your mental health, creativity, and ability to produce. Fortunately, there are many ways you can alleviate the isolation and still work from home successfully.
Inc.com discusses this and more with 8 Ways to Be Happy and Productive in Your Home Office.
Know how to work from home…with kids
For a parent, working from home can be a fantastic opportunity to earn a living without having to shell out for daycare and juggle transportation. The ability to have a flexible schedule and be there for your kids is priceless — but making things work when you’re surrounded by little ones can take some extra effort.
One work-from-home mom shares her secrets to success in How to work from home without losing your mind.
Discover your personal productivity boosters
Everyone has different work habits. The best way to be successful as a telecommuter is to find what makes you most productive, and work it into your routine. There are plenty of out-of-the-box strategies that can help you keep things running smoothly in your home office.
Check out these productive work-at-home hacks from Lifehack to get started.
If you need help implementing successful work-from-home tactics, or are searching for a career with flexible hours and telecommuting options, contact the recruiting experts at The Armada Group today.
If you’re still scouring job listings for that perfect position that uses your skills and meets your career goals, and striking out every time, you may be tempted to give up and settle for a job you can do instead of the job you really want. But don’t lose hope — because if your dream job doesn’t exist, you might be able to create it.
You don’t have to limit your job search to advertised positions. With strategic research, active networking, and a sharpened pitch, you have a chance to carve out the perfect job and take control of your career.
Here’s how you can make your dream job a reality, even if it doesn’t exist.
Identify your dream employers
The perfect job starts with a great employer — one with a mission you can get behind, co-workers you’ll fit right in with, and opportunities that will help your career move forward. Begin creating your dream job by developing a short list of employers you’d love to work for.
Once you’ve researched and chosen 10-to-20 possible employers, start looking further to identify potential opportunities for the position you have in mind. For each company, find out everything you can about:
- What department(s) your dream job might fit into
- Which departments are underdeveloped or emerging
- What areas you could apply your skills that the company hasn’t considered yet
- Whether you have any potential contacts or other ins at the company
Look to social media, career websites like Glassdoor and Indeed, and the companies’ websites, blogs, and press released for insight into this type of information, and then reduce your list to the most likely companies. Remember not to limit yourself to the positions the company has listed as available — you’re going to offer them something unique.
Activate your network
A network is the most powerful tool available for today’s job seekers, especially when it comes to applying for an unlisted job. You’ll substantially increase your chance of getting hired if you can connect with someone who:
- Has inside information on what’s happening in your dream companies
- Is able to offer you tips on getting noticed by the company’s decision-makers
- Can directly vouch for your skills and abilities to potential employers
Look through your existing network, and your extended network, to find out what kind of connections you have or can make. LinkedIn is the best source for business connections, but you might also find connected people on other social media networks, at the college or university you attended, or even among your friends and family.
Once you’ve found potential connections, send out a short message that explains what you’re looking to do, and whether they’d be willing to make an introduction for you. However, if you can’t find any personal inroads to your dream employers, you can still try contacting recruiters or hiring managers directly.
Prepare your perfect pitch
Landing a job that doesn’t exist yet is a bit more challenging than applying for a listed position. Instead of just convincing employers that you’re the right person for the job, you also have to convince them that they need the job done in the first place. This means proving that if they hire you for the position you’re pitching, you’ll have a real impact on a key component of the company — whether that’s efficiency, lead acquisition, sales, or the bottom line.
Use your best skills and achievements to prepare a pitch that explains just how you can help their company grow. Make sure your pitch incorporates ties to the specific company’s background, and be passionate about why you want to do this particular job for this particular company.
Finally, if and when you land an interview, go in prepared to talk about the company itself, the industry in general, and even its competitors. Bring examples of similar positions at competitors, and demonstrate how you can help them achieve results. Remember that you’re selling not only yourself, but the actual job you want to do.
Creating your own dream job is a challenging but worthwhile endeavor. With research, preparation, patience, and persistence, you can turn a nonexistent dream job into a personal reality.
For help finding or creating the perfect position for you, reach out to the career experts at The Armada Group. We understand what it takes to find and fill a perfect IT position, and place candidates every day in top industry jobs.
As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, there are massive changes taking place in the energy and utility industry. The energy grid that’s currently in use has been around for a long time — and the aging infrastructure is costly, inefficient, and unreliable. The world is moving toward standardized clean energy technology, and smart grids are at the heart of this movement.
There are a number of different technologies currently fueling growth in the smart grid industry, in both core and grid-edge areas. These include:
- Smart meters, sensors, and software
- Transmission gear technologies
- Distribution automation through flexible, intelligent distribution systems
- Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology
- Charging stations for electric vehicles
- Demand response systems
Here are some facts about smart grids, and the role IT will play in the future of cleaner, more intelligent energy distribution, storage, and management.
Smart grids are substantially more efficient
The longer something has been in use, the more likely it is to fail. This is the case with the current energy grid — failure is more frequent, and it costs everyone. While the existing electricity system has 99.97 percent reliability, power interruptions and outages still occur, and cost Americans an average of $150 billion or more each year — roughly $500 per person.
Aging infrastructures, retiring professionals, and the increasing use of solar and other distributed power generation resources are leading to gaps in safety and stability. Smart grids are becoming increasingly necessary to support — and eventually replace — a grid that is already relying more on newer technologies to sustain operation.
Companies are creating smart grid-based services
For hardware and software vendors, smart grid technology offers the potential for a range of management services that will benefit consumers and the energy industry. Examples of smart grid-enabled service include:
- Home energy management
- Asset management and condition monitoring
- Demand response services
- Advanced metering infrastructures
- Automation for distribution and substation communications
- Software solutions and analytics
A market forecast from Navigant Research predicts that the global market for services based on smart grid technology will grow from $1.7 billion in 2014, to over $11.1 billion by 2023.
Workforce development is vital to smart grid success
Many STEM-related careers are already experiencing talent shortages. In the coming years, this is expected to increase — and jobs relating to smart grids will be among the most pressing. To meet this need, the U.S. Department of Energy backs and promotes the Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions, which works with universities and other institutions to advance the smart grid through the development of new methods and technologies.
One of the largest categories in the smart grid industry is likely to be the market for IT solutions, and IT smart grid jobs will be in high demand. From transmission upgrades to analytics solution, smart grid IT is expected to grow as an industry to more than $23 billion by 2023.
Data scientists who work with smart grid technologies will also be in high demand, but many utility companies will be unable to afford the creation of a dedicated data scientist role. For this reason, some are turning to outsourced solutions that allow multiple utility clients to leverage one expert — a strategy that is likely to become more popular as smart grid technology spreads.
For more information on IT’s role in clean energy, or to find candidates who understand the necessity for implementing this type of technology in your workplace, contact The Armada Group today.
Motivating factors play a primary role in any worker’s performance. When choosing a career in IT, some do it for the money, some for the enjoyment and satisfaction. Others like solving complex problems. Regardless of why, there’s one constant that every successful IT person has: Passion. Here are the top three reasons hiring managers care more about passion than credentials:
1. Technical expertise enables a worker, but it’s passion that drives someone. A professional who has a passionate drive about their occupation will do whatever it takes to be successful, to perform at their peak, and to learn the most about their job. Generally, someone with a CCNP has a higher degree of knowledge than another with a CCNA – but the person who has the CCNA will learn the CCNP position, and their drive will help them learn more comprehensively.
2. Passion finds a way around objects and challenges that frustrate expertise. This same drive motivates a worker to excel personally, not just professionally. This brings an automatic increase in perseverance, training, and discipline. People who enjoy their job are also more likely to acquire new information that, while it may not relate directly to the job, nonetheless increases performance.
3. Passion brings something to the table that technical expertise and credentials simply don’t. Having a “burned out” employee with any amount of expertise is still a disgruntled employee. Having a fire glowing inside of a candidate for what they do isn’t a “soft skill,” it’s a necessity. Passion is what will make a candidate acquire skills and knowledge when it’s not required, and what keeps a candidate up late working when the rest of the office is gone. Passion is what distinguishes an ordinary candidate for a growth driver.
Certifications, experience and credentials certainly help a candidate get their foot in the door, but passion is what gets the job. Regardless of the level, a passionate worker will always produce more, work harder, and advance more quickly.
At The Armada Group, this is one of the main things we recruit for. We recruit elite talent for some of the fastest growing and most innovative tech giants in the world, and we’re looking for passionate and driven individuals in all stages of their career. Contact us today to see how we can help you!