A Career Move from IT Operations to ITOM Vendor

Neal Berggren recently joined OpsRamp as a Solution Architect, after many years working in IT operations with a focus on networking and storage. He shares his thoughts on how IT operations requirements and roles are changing.

OpsRamp: Let’s talk about your experience working in the space that our customers do: IT infrastructure and operations. How have things changed over the years?

NB: I have done everything in IT Ops, from rack and stack of equipment, maintaining data centers and cabling, through design and more business-focused work. What has really changed in the last 20 years is agility. IT can't be the area where progress stops. IT needs to  be a better business partner. IT can’t be just a cost center anymore; IT needs to add value to the company by figuring out what are the right solutions to their needs. 

Another big change is security. The old paradigm is you have a secure perimeter but it’s more open on the inside, but now that has gone away. Your internal security posture is as critical, if not more so, than the external posture. If  bad actors are able to get past your perimeter, and you have limited means to detect that internally, you have a large problem. Everyone is responsible for security now, not just the security guys. And then we have all the regulations: the new ones like GDPR and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).  Being able to support that with all of the processes and technologies on the backend is a huge undertaking.

OpsRamp: How have jobs changed in IT Operations over the years?

NB:  There is now a much bigger emphasis on continuous availability. If you are providing a service to a group in the business and it’s down and it’s critical, it becomes a P1 and you have to fix it right away.  The impact on people trying to fix things is greater now. That’s because people are accustomed to using other services like Gmail. It’s up all the time. They have outages too, but you don’t know about them. The job is not so much planning for disaster recovery anymore, but planning for high availability.  I’ve been reading the book, The Phoenix Project. What they described in those outages is exactly how it was! For every character, there was a person in my company who fit that role.

OpsRamp: So the expectation now is that services have to be up all the time. What else?

NB: Other changes are that technology is moving so fast, so you have to stay on top of the change. An IT professional needs the ability to change skill sets very quickly. If your company hasn’t been doing much in the cloud and suddenly it wants to move in that direction, you have to ramp up really quickly.  Compare that to if your career was working on Cisco technology, or networking in general. It did not change that much over time. With an on-premises networking mindset, it took me a while to understand how networking works in Azure and AWS. You have to be prepared to give up some control and visibility into what you can do and shift your mindset of how things operate. 

OpsRamp: Why did you join OpsRamp?

NB: I was introduced to the company through one of our solution consultants whom I’ve known for a long time. He showed me a demo and I was kind of blown away by the capabilities.  Going from an operations background to a role like this is very different, but I love the product and when I spoke to different people during the interview process, the message was consistent.  It’s very nice to be part of a team where everyone is aligned on the same vision!

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