Six essential skills for system administrators and Infrastructure as Code pros

In this guest post, Thomas Chisholm, principal training solutions engineer at Puppet by Perforce, details the six essential skills that Infrastructure-as-Code professionals need in 2023 

In the ever-evolving world of technology, the roles of system administrators and Infrastructure as Code (IaC) professionals are undergoing huge transformative shifts. As the digital landscape continues to evolve at lightning speed, these professionals are tasked with managing intricate infrastructures, and optimising performance, all the while ensuring impeccable security.

To navigate these challenges successfully, here are six skills that system administrators and IaC professionals should be developing right now.


More of an aspirational goal than a single skill, automation encompasses a little of everything. Automation stands as the linchpin of modern IT infrastructure, orchestrating a symphony of efficiency and precision.

Its significance lies in its ability to streamline mundane tasks, transforming them into seamless routines that run with clockwork precision. By automating routine processes — from server provisioning and configuration management to deployment pipelines — IT teams unlock a realm of possibilities. This liberation from manual drudgery allows skilled professionals to channel their energies towards innovation, problem-solving, and strategic planning.

Beyond efficiency, automation enhances consistency, reducing the risk of human error that can often creep into repetitive tasks.  In essence, automation does not merely simplify processes; it empowers IT professionals to conquer new horizons while maintaining a firm grip on the foundation of their digital domains.

 Version control

Automation practices are impossible without a solid foundation in version control. In the realm of IaC, where infrastructure is defined and managed through code, version control systems play a vital role in maintaining order, collaboration, and reliability. They allow teams to track changes, manage different iterations of code, and collaborate seamlessly across distributed environments.

With version control, IaC professionals can easily revert to previous versions, test new configurations without fear of breaking production, and enforce consistent standards across the entire infrastructure. This not only streamlines development and deployment processes but also ensures traceability, accountability, and the ability to troubleshoot effectively. In the dynamic landscape of IaC, version control provides the foundation for stability and agility, empowering teams to work together confidently while minimising risks.

Scripting languages

Scripting languages play a central role in the realm of IT automation, wielding the power to transform complex tasks into elegantly streamlined routines. These languages, such as Python, PowerShell, and Bash, act as digital artisans crafting solutions that orchestrate intricate processes with a few lines of code. Unlike traditional programming languages, scripting languages prioritise rapid development and execution, making them ideal tools for automating routine tasks.

On the other hand, Infrastructure as Code (IaC) languages operate at a higher level of abstraction, allowing IT professionals to define entire infrastructures programmatically. While scripting languages excel in task automation, IaC languages focus on defining and managing infrastructure as a whole. Together, they form a dynamic pair, ensuring that IT teams can optimise efficiency and navigate the intricate landscapes of modern IT operations.

Fluency in multiple OSs

In an IT automation environment, possessing expertise in multiple operating systems offers a range of invaluable advantages. Once upon a time, it was standard to hear, “I only work in Linux” or “I only work in Windows,” but increasingly those who can work in both OSs (and others) are becoming hot commodities. This is especially true in automation of IT infrastructures where a mix of operating systems is becoming more and more prevalent.

Becoming a generalist

In today’s rapidly evolving IT landscape, embracing a generalist approach is more crucial than ever. The days of specialist expertise confined to a single domain are yielding to the demand for professionals who possess a broader skill set. This has become a de facto requirement for DevOps or site reliability engineers, whose work takes them in all environments and across many different technologies and platforms.

Continuous learning

Whether it’s mastering emerging programming languages, staying updated on the latest security protocols, or understanding the nuances of cloud services, the landscape is a dynamic canvas that necessitates a posture of continuous learning. The willingness to embrace new tools, methodologies, and paradigms is a hallmark trait of those who thrive in the tech industry.

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