New IT job: Virtual Infrastructure Architect

Forrester Research says adopting virtual technology will require IT to hire new or train existing staff to fill a new role.

IT departments adopting virtualization across IT domains such as network, servers, storage and desktops should consider creating a new position designed to address the technology at an enterprise level.

Most companies aren’t adding staff during the economic downturn, but with many adopting virtualization technology to cut costs and optimize resources, industry watchers say IT departments will be looking for new skills to fill an emerging position: virtual infrastructure architect.

Where the IT jobs are: 10 American cities

According to a recent report by Forrester Research, a new role is emerging and quickly becoming required in many IT shops. The VI architect, Forrester says, would be responsible to oversee the operation of both the physical and virtual platforms across server, storage and network infrastructure domains. The position requires a range of virtual skills, including a broad knowledge of virtualization platforms and tools, but Forrester says don’t rely on technical certifications alone when considering potential candidates.

“Don’t discount a candidate just because he or she isn’t a VMware Certified Professional or Citrix Certified Administrator; relevant experience is just as, if not more, important,” the report reads. “Regardless, seek a VI architect with several years of hands-on virtualization experience, such as playing the role of technical lead on a large-scale server consolidation or virtualization initiative involving physical-to-virtual migrations.”

Not only will virtualization experience be required, but IT managers should also be looking for a technology generalist with experience and background in several areas of infrastructure, including networking and storage systems. The VI architect will help the network and storage teams, for instance, understand how virtual elements should perform and how to troubleshoot problems in the virtual realm, the research firm says.

Other skills required of a potential VI architect would be capacity planning, monitoring and forecasting skills. Forrester analysts explain in the report that either the VI architect will be the primary contact for capacity management or work closely with the already established capacity manager. Soft skills such as communication and facilitation capabilities will help the candidate get groups to more easily work together. And IT departments would also want to bring on a person that could achieve the goals without much guidance from management, the research firm suggests.

“The ideal VI architect candidate must be able to provide direct assistance to other infrastructure groups that may be facing configuration or performance problems,” Forrester analysts advise in the report. “Look for a candidate who will help reinvent your processes, service levels and other metrics as you discover their deficiencies.”

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