Based on Microsoft’s strategies to further improve automated management and host applications using cloud technologies, IT professionals need education in these key areas below:

Windows Server, System Center and every other key Microsoft product are now undergoing fundamental architectural and design changes, and if you don’t adapt to them and embrace cloud computing, your career in IT likely will be cut short. Regardless of how much experience you have as an MCSE or MCSA, Pluralsight Curriculum Director Don Jones pointed to key changes coming from Microsoft that’ll have a major impact on the careers of all IT pros and developers who specialize in all or any component of the Redmond stack.

The changes in Windows Server 2016, the move toward system automation, the shift to applications based on containers,  Microsoft’s cloud-first approach and  a move to continuous updates will all require IT pros to gain new skills. Speaking at the TechMentor conference on Microsoft’s main campus in Redmond, Wash., which, like Redmond, is produced by 1105 Media, Jones’ stern warning to attendees was to keep up on these changes and get educated accordingly “or run calculations on the days you have until retirement.”

PowerShell: “That’s the future.” That’s because in order to use the forthcoming Windows Server 2016 Nano Server, administrators will have to rely on PowerShell remoting since the server OS won’t support video connections or have a GUI.

System Center: Microsoft’s systems management platform in 10 years will look nothing like it does today, yet will remain critical as Microsoft offers fewer tools in the operating system itself

Hybrid Cloud: Jones said those who ignore the rise of cloud computing architectures will be making fatal career mistakes

Big Data: One of the most ambiguous and disliked term in IT, the ability to process massive amounts of data to facilitate the move toward better systems automation will be important

Heterogeneity: The dream of working in all Windows environments is long gone, Jones notes. “If you don’t know how to do some basic maintenance on a Mac or have ever  built a Linux device, it’s a good hobby take up because it’s going to be a key part of your career,” Jones advised.

Exchange Server: It’s no secret that high on the list of endangered species are Exchange administrators thanks to the rapid push toward Office 365 and hosted versions of the e-mail platform

Active Directory:  The ability to configure and manage Azure Active Directory and AD Connect are critical. Those who earn a living by just adding users to Active Directory are the equivalent to those who pump gas at full service stations.