I want to learn about these six things in 2021

I know a few things. I don’t know most things. Each year, I try to learn new stuff and challenge my existing knowledge/assumptions. There are always more things to learn than time available in the day, so I have to be selective. What should I focus on? Some folks choose to go deeper in their areas of expertise, others choose to bolster weak areas. Next year, I’m going to do the latter.

Here are six topics—four related to tech, two related to professional skills—I want to learn more about, and I’ll include some thoughts on my approach to learning each.

Technology Skills

Each year, I try out a variety of technologies. Next year won’t be different. Besides these four topics below, I suspect that I’ll keep messing around with serverless technologies, Kubernetes, service meshes, and public cloud services. But I’m going to spend special attention on:

Identity and access management

In my 20+ year career, I’ve learned enough about identity management to be dangerous. But in reality, I’m barely competent on this topic. It’s time to truly understand how all this works. With so many folks building increasingly distributed architectures, identity management seems more important than ever. I’d like to dig into things like authorization flows, application identities within clusters, and access management within cloud tenancy structures.

How? I plan on taking some Pluralsight courses on Google Cloud Identity, OAuth2 flows, and overall security practices. Then I’ll invest in some hands-on time with things like Workload Identity, Identity Aware Proxy, and the BeyondCorp assets we’ve created. May also read some Gartner and Forrester reports on the topic.

BigQuery

This is a crown jewel in Google Cloud’s portfolio. It’s a well-built, popular service that stands out among public cloud offerings. I’ve spent precious little time in the data analytics domain, and want to change that. A little. I’m not interested in being a full-on analytics guy, but I want to understand how BigQuery works and the role it can play for companies adopting cloud.

How? There are a handful of Pluralsight courses that look good here. I’ll also go hands on a lot. That may involve some QwikLabs, or just me playing with datasets.

Angular

I’ve mostly declared bankruptcy on front-end frameworks. My career has been server-side, with only enough investment in the front-end to build decent looking demos. But I like what I’m seeing here and it’s obvious how much processing we’re doing client-side now. There are roughly five hundred viable frameworks to choose from, so I might as well pick a popular one with some Google heritage.

How? Pluralsight has a great Angular learning path. I just need to get some reps with the tech, and make it second nature to use on any apps I build. Plus, learning this gives me an excuse to use compute platforms like Cloud Run and GKE to host my app.

Application deployment tools and strategies

While CI/CD is a fairly mature domain, I’m still seeing lots of fresh thinking here. I want to learn more about how forward-thinking companies are packaging up and shipping software. Shipping is more sophisticated now with so many components to factor in, and less tolerance for downtime. The tooling for continuous deployment (and progressive delivery) is getting better.

How? I’m looking forward to trying out a lot of technologies here. I’m sure i’ll find a lot of books or courses about what I’m after, so this is a very “hands on” journey.

Professional Skills

I’m also looking for to building up my business and management skills next year. The two things that I’ll invest the most in are:

Product management

Given my position in Google Cloud, I’m supposed to know what I’m doing. But I’m learning new things every day. In 2021, I want to double-down on the practices of product development and full product lifecycle management. I’ve got so much to learn on how to better identify customer problems, scope an experiment, communicate value, measure usage, and build a sustainable business around the product.

How? Much of this will happen by watching my peers. The product discipline at Google Cloud is excellent. In addition, I’ve got my eye on new books, and some product-focused conferences. I also plan on reading some of the good Gartner research on product management.

Coaching and sponsorship

I’ve done some mentorship in my career, but I haven’t done much coaching or sponsorship. Some of that is because of imposter syndrome (“why would anyone want to learn anything from ME?”) and some is because I haven’t made it a priority. I now have more appreciation for what I can give back to others. I’ve been making myself more available this year, and want to intentionally continue that next year.

How? Some of this will happen through study and watching others, and some by actually doing it! Our industry is full of high-potential individuals who haven’t had someone in their corner, and I’m going to do my part to fix that.

What about you? What topics deserve your special attention in 2021? I’m looking forward to learning in public and getting your feedback along the way.

Author: Richard Seroter

Richard Seroter is Director of Outbound Product Management at Google Cloud, with a master’s degree in Engineering from the University of Colorado. He’s also an instructor at Pluralsight, the lead InfoQ.com editor for cloud computing, a frequent public speaker, the author of multiple books on software design and development, and a former 12-time Microsoft MVP for cloud. As Director of Outbound Product Management at Google Cloud, Richard leads a team focused on products and customer success for app modernization (e.g. Anthos). Richard maintains a regularly updated blog on topics of architecture and solution design and can be found on Twitter as @rseroter.

4 thoughts

  1. Awesome plan for next years! I’m planning to get better at front-end development as well . But I was thinking on learn REACT, I consider is the most popular framework today. Why did you choose Angular?

    Cheers and have a great end of the year!

    Ceci.

    1. Honestly, I chose it because Google plays a big part in it, and I’d like to learn more about it. Just liked I learned Spring when I joined Pivotal, I want to experience the languages and frameworks that started here.

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