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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.