Winter is over but, depending where you live, there are still plenty of clouds in the sky. Clouds may be a bad thing when it comes to your weekend plans, but they're a welcome sight when talking about careers in technology. The advantages of cloud services are significant, and the cloud is impacting consumers, small businesses and enterprise companies in many ways most people aren't even aware of.

The Numbers, Up and to the Right
According to Cisco Systems' Global Cloud Index, data center IP traffic will nearly triple over the next five years. Overall, data center IP traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25 percent from 2012 to 2017. The cloud traffic growth by the main six regions of the world is expected to have CAGR between 28 percent and 57 percent from 2012-2017.

Companies leveraging cloud technologies are able to focus more on their core competencies and less on IT services. Think about it: Can you imagine today a business would even consider producing an electric power plant in its back lot for its own use, as companies did years ago? Of course not. Today you simply would make a phone call to the utility company and start the service. And you would use the service as you need and pay for what you use.

The Clouds are Expanding, New Skills are Needed
With all of the advantages of cloud automation software and virtualization come new skill sets that are far more complex than can be explained in this article. One of the services my company offers is technical training courses for designing, building and managing data centers using technologies from Cisco UCS/Nexus, NetApp and VMware. A few years ago I noticed some customers were deciding not to use a traditional hardware solution — they saw an advantage in using a public cloud service from companies such as Amazon Web Services or Rackspace.

I wanted to learn more about how these growing cloud services could be beneficial to companies, so I decided to educate myself about this new and growing “cloud model” by obtaining two of the top cloud computing certifications, CloudU from Rackspace and CompTIA Cloud Essentials. I learned there are a ton of different cloud services available, and not all companies will be able to fully take advantage of the benefits. Most likely, no company will ever be 100 percent cloud-dependant.