After following the Cloud computing market for a some years, I’ve begun to ask myself the question, can you have a significant engineering job in Cloud computing without knowing Linux. Back in my pure engineering days, I could get by with just knowing a little Linux and a lot of about Windows Server. Even in the days of when VMware had a full Linux console, you didn’t need to know much Linux. Now, not only Cloud but IT infrastructure generally has as much Linux as it does Windows, if not more.
Traditionally, the only Linux machines in my environments have been vendor appliances. These machines have normally been closed boxes that are purpose built devices. An example is an NAS appliance. Once configured, it is unlikely I’d ever have to touch the command line of the appliance.
Times have changed
I’ve been doing an inventory of infrastructure and Cloud technologies built on Linux. If you take a look at the list, it’s a who’s who of IT infrastructure technologies. The list includes:
Even Public cloud solutions such as AWS the focus is on Linux workloads vs. applications built on Windows Server. Windows Server is far from dead. Microsoft Azure by some counts is the 2nd largest IaaS provider next to AWS. I believe Linux makes up 20% of IaaS workloads on Linux. At the very minimum, it seems like Microsoft has embraced Linux on Azure.
Windows Server isn’t dead
I don’t believe Windows Server is going anywhere anytime soon. However, I do believe that Linux is beyond critical mass. It’s a skill the must be in the toolbox of any infrastructure engineer. I’ve been polishing my Linux skill. I’ve used training from Pluralsight.com along with VMware Fusion on my Mac to experiment with Linux. If you are already strong with Windows Server, it will not take too long to come up to working speed with Linux.
My suggestion is to start with the server version of the OS. I’ve been using CentOS. Starting with the server version without a GUI forces you to get use to the file system, which is extremely important in Linux administration. It will also get you familiar with using services built on Linux. You’ll find a large percent of administrative tasks will need command line access. Windows application GUI has developed that there is a limited number of times where you need to go to a shell vs. Linux infrastructure apps.
So, if you are looking to not be left behind in the next phase of IT infrastructure, I strongly suggest you join me in getting a better grip on these boxes that have traditionally been closed appliances. They will become a much bigger part of your day-to-day responsibilities.