Picking a winning career path in technology is difficult even if you have years of industry experience. The great thing about having over 15 years of experience in IT is that I have great 20/20 rear vision. I now know, investing in my Cisco certification, in 2001 was a much better idea than updating my Novell Certification. However, it wasn’t so clear cut at the time. Engineers have to make really difficult choices on how to guide their careers. If you aren’t thinking about managing your career, you should start to do so.
Some engineers are limited due to the limits of their employer’s technology profile. If new technology projects aren’t available, you must make the difficult decision of moving on versus getting a steady paycheck at a solid organization. Even given the option of moving to a different company over staying with the same company and switching focus onto a different technology, the decision isn’t easy. Picking the next best thing in technology is difficult for your career.
If you are an infrastructure geek as I once was then you are faced with similar choices today. For example, a question I get all the time is “Have I missed the boat on VMware?” I know it may seem like a silly question. vSphere is the best overall technical solution for virtualized environments – today. Timing is critical, Novell was the best network operating system in the late 90’s/00’s but got over took by Microsoft and Linux. Has vSphere reached it market apex? Is a pivot underway to a new next great infrastructure technology career path? An engineer undertaking a long and expensive journey to gain VMware vSphere skills, may not pay the same dividends as it did just a few short years ago.
I used my Cisco/Novell comparison for a reason. They didn’t compete for customers but they did compete for system engineering talent. The same engineers who considered Novell’s CNE certification were the same engineers capable of achieving Cisco certification. Choosing training in Cisco technologies vs. pursuing updating my NetWare certifications lead to opportunities in a hot period of the market. The options for investing in your technical infrastructure career today are similar. OpenStack, DevOpps, Network Virtualization (SDN), Public Cloud manager, Cloud Infrastructure Engineering and similar roles compete for your personal resources. With that is the question of which careertechnology path is the winner?
It’s a different answer for each person. I’ve always used an emotional gauge for making this decision. I’ve learned over the years, to invest in technologies I find compelling and interesting. It’s not a perfect approach. I’ve picked some long term losers such as Novell NetWare over Windows NT initially. However, it has served me well over the long-haul of my career.