Connect and decompress: 5 podcasts for IT pros

by Stephen Danos

Whether you’re a CTO or IT support specialist, new skills, continuing education, and paying attention to the latest technology trends can help you succeed.

While there’s nothing wrong with flipping through books and scrolling through tech-centric publications on your phone, podcasts are a safer (and legal) approach to learning during your daily commute. 

Check out these five IT podcasts for mini-history lessons, current events, exclusive interviews, and great examples of how people and tech work together to promote organizational achievement. 

Logo for Technovation with Peter High podcast

1.Technovation with Peter High

Technovation host Peter High has impressive access to “the people who are shaping the technology landscape.” CIOs, CDOs, and CTOs join him every week to pitch their vision on the best ways that business and technology units can work together to continuously innovate within their organizations. 

Guests share insight into the technology side of their companies, such as Equifax, McAfee, and SpaceX. Sometimes academics and columnists join the podcast to talk about broader topics, such as digital transformation. 

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While scrolling through six years of episodes, my interest piqued when I spotted an 18-minute interview from January 2019 with Bryson Koehler, Equifax’s current chief technology officer. I was curious to hear how Koehler and his teams planned to prevent data breaches like the one Equifax experienced in 2017, which impacted 143 million individual customers. 

Since a lot of companies collect data from their customers, listening to Koehler was a study in how to publicly talk about a corporate crisis from a technology perspective. He shared that Equifax is continuously investing hundreds of millions of dollars in digital technology that integrates with security. And as far as quotes go, this one from Koehler is a keeper: 

“I think it’s critical that we don’t view security as a project or as some bolt-on capability that gets put on in the end, but we see security as a foundational bedrock of every decision we make, every architecture we design, every line of code that we write, how we deploy, and how we operate.”

Koehler also discusses his global leadership role, strategic imperatives, rebuilding trust with customers while “building a sustainable future” for the company, reinvesting in new technologies, what he looks for during the hiring process, data science, quantum computing, and blockchain. 

You can gain insight into the philosophical points of view that enterprise leaders use to run their technology departments, which is handy if you’re just curious or even interested in applying for roles at their companies.

Logo for The Cloud Cast podcast

2. The Cloudcast

If you can handle less-than-pristine sound levels, The Cloudcast is a weekly must-listen for everyone who works in IT. Launched in 2011 by Red Hat, hosts Brian Gracely and Aaron Delp cover many topics relevant to IT — from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and digital transformation to artificial intelligence and machine learning. 

Each episode starts with a quick roundup of the latest news that impacts cloud computing and the IT world. It was a challenge to pick just one episode, but “New Challenges for IT Professionals” seems fitting for IT departments that want to be innovative and stay connected with their internal business partners. 

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After covering recent changes to Microsoft’s enterprise licensing, Google Migrate for Anthos, and the latest AWS acquisition, he interviewed Corey Hynes, the CEO of Learn on Demand Systems, a leading provider of hands-on technical training and learning with live instructors, challenging coursework, and assessments. 

In this episode, Gracely discussed the best hands-on ways for IT professionals to develop new skills through IT training, and the methods organizations use to adapt to these new challenges. 

He graciously sets up the 32-minute interview as being meant for those who are trying to figure out their career path in IT, and the best ways to learn and grow. Do you double-down on today’s mainstream tech, or do you move toward the tech of the future? Can you have it both ways? 

Logo for The Changelog podcast

3. The Changelog

Back to Agile’s basics #367” might be my favorite recent episode of The Changelog podcast. In software development, a changelog is a file that includes a record of important changes — like feature updates and bug fixes — throughout the project. The podcast is a wealth of information for those keen on software development concepts and open source.

In the episode, Robert C. Martin joins co-host Adam Stacoviak to discuss Agile practices. Over Martin’s 50-year career, he’s written several books including “Clean Code,” “Clean Architecture,” and “Clean Agile.” Focusing on the latter book, they discuss the origins of Agile methodology and how it applies to software development.

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Martin provides some surefire signs that you’re not actually practicing Agile, since the famous methodology has morphed into a buzzword over the years. Here are some dead giveaways that show you are living that Agile life: 

  • Are you producing something deliverable every one to two weeks, something that you have tested and could be deployed?

  • Are you intensely communicating with stakeholders?

  • Are you writing a suite of tests that can verify that your system works, as specified?

  • Have you maintained control of the software code, keeping it clean?

These are just a handful of what you should be doing if you’re on the regular when practicing Agile. The Changelog also offers deep dives into all sorts of topics including open source collaboration, robocars, machine-powered refactoring, UI frameworks, GitHub, and more.

Logo for the Risky Business podcast

4. Risky Business

To fill in the security podcast spot, you can’t do much better than Risky Business. Host and journalist Patrick Gray knows how to inform and entertain (he’s also a superb Twitter follow), covering topics like malware, hacking, data breaches, TLS Delegated Credentials, VPNs, and enterprise security through the lens of current events. 

Gray and his team are prolific, producing around three episodes per week that fall under these titles: Risky Business, Risky Biz Soap Box, Feature Podcast, and Snake Oilers. “Feature Podcast: Critical infrastructure security with Eric Rosenbach and Robert M. Lee” offers an honest and direct analysis of today’s state of industrial control security (ICS). 

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Rosenbach shares details about his time working for the U.S. Department of Defense with the Obama administration, and how security complacency at a national security level leads to inaction and messes with the entire policy-making process. They discuss cyber reconnaissance, cyber munitions, grid surveillance, operational downtime, civilian infrastructure, Russia’s political subterfuge, and so much more.

During the second half of the episode Lee, CEO of Dragos, speaks to how engineering ICS environments can limit the damage advisories can do, digital relays and circuit breakers connected to power grids, and how hackers can bypass enterprise security to gain access to industrial networks. It’s scary stuff but emphasizes the importance of everything security pros do to try and keep citizens safe.

I like that Gray books guests who speak frankly about complicated topics while making the conversations very easy to follow — for IT novices and experts alike — while highlighting the global impact of security.

Logo for Command Line Heroes podcast

5. Command Line Heroes

The second Red Hat podcast on this list, Command Line Heroes features thought-provoking history lessons on prescient tech subjects. It should fascinate IT leaders and pros who want to learn something new or listen to relatively quick refreshers focused on software.

The newest season (there are three, in total) delves into the history of programming languages, such as Python and JavaScript, while taking the time to look at LISP and the origins of AI. 

Saron Yitbarek, who is a developer and CodeNewbie founder, hosts the Shorty Award-winning and Webby Award-nominated podcast. What struck me most is this podcast’s creative approach to atmospheric storytelling, using multiple narrators and interviews in each episode. 

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As a bonus, their website has a lot of free, downloadable content, including their original open source games (BASH and The Game) and special artwork. Each episode features a full transcript and related articles, and some — including “Talking to Machines: LISP and the Origins of AI,” my favorite episode to date — have special videos.

Yitbarek narrates a riveting story populated with subject matter experts about the potential for AI, answering questions such as “what language do you use when your tech has a mind of its own?”

As she digs deeper, interviewing historians and academics, she shows how people have looked at the potential of AI over time, open source, and machine learning. 

Expand your knowledge base

While IT pros don’t have a lot of downtime during the workday, you should bookmark these podcasts (if you haven’t subscribed already) — they’re educational, entertaining, and often profound. All episodes mentioned in this article can be found in this handy Spotify playlist (Note: you must be on mobile to listen).

You can also subscribe to the Smartsheet IT Newsletter for tips, strategies, and ideas focused on helping IT professionals increase their impact on their business.