Friday 1 January 2016

Things to learn... 2016 edition

As 2015 fades away in the rear view mirror, the prospect of a new year looms, and with it, a chance for me to reflect on the new technologies that are going to become increasingly important in 2016.

For a number of years, I've kept a "Things to learn" note, but I've never blogged about it before. This year, I decided to put this online and will (hopefully) be able to track how I'm doing.

So, here are the things I'm aiming to learn in 2016...


I've started to dabble with Puppet and really like what can be done with it. I'm planning on investing a significant of time and effort into becoming fluent in Puppet so that the desired state method to system administration becomes the default approach.

Powershell / PowerCLI

I like to think I'm decent at Unix shell scripting, but my Powershell skills are very much at a beginner's level.  I've now purchased a couple of ebooks (from Packt Publishing; recommended) on the subject and want to become as comfortable in Powershell as I am BASH.

I mention PowerCLI along with Powershell because, although an extension to the base Powershell, PowerCLI provides all the functionality for managing a VMware environment through Powershell. So it's a pretty big deal in its own right.

VMware vRealize Automation / Orchestrator

This is the year that we aim to phase out our vCloud Director private cloud and replace it with vRealize Automation. It seems that for any customisation, vRealize Orchestrator is the obvious tool, which means learning some (more) Javascript as well.

Citrix XenApp 7.6

On a purely practical level, I have some older XenApp servers (test and dev) that need to be replaced with the latest XenApp release (currently 7.6). This brings a significant change to XenApp as 7.x is built off the XenDesktop FMA architecture.

It also means a migration from the old Secure Gateway and Web Interface to Netscaler VPX and StoreFront.

I still maintain that XenApp is a great "access-layer" platform for endpoints to connect in through. The new version is going to be different and take some time to understand and then fully exploit.

Microsoft Azure

As Microsoft transition from being the Windows/Office company, to a major provider of public cloud services, we're seeing an uptake of Azure usage, primarily through developers who are using it for "quick and dirty" deployments.

These developments are now transitioning to a production state, which means they need to be looked after, tended, watered and weeded by IT. So learning what can and can't be done with Azure is going to be an increasingly important requirement.

Other Stuff...

This isn't an exhaustive list. There are other things that will need research, development and deployment: Solaris 11, RHEL7, Red Hat IDM (aka FreeIPA), Cisco ASA upgrades, Zabbix monitoring and alerting and probably other things I've forgotten.

In terms of certifications, I didn't have a great experience in 2015 with my Cisco CCDA and as a result, my CCNA and CCNA Security certifications have expired. I'm not yet sure which (if any) I'll look to retake, especially given the required investment in time.

Having now been doing IT for over 15 years, it's pleasing to see that there is still a whole lot of stuff I don't know and need to learn. It keeps the job interesting. May your 2016 be equally stimulating!