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Laying Out a Road Map to Close the Cloud Skills Gap

Even with the best intentions to transform, organizations that lack in-house cloud knowledge may struggle to compete.

Building up cloud skills within an enterprise remains an essential part of transformation, according to experts such as Cloudtamer.io, a cloud solutions developer, and A Cloud Guru, a cloud training provider. Old school, legacy technical skills will need to be updated for organizations to compete going forward, but the shortage of cloud talent can be mitigated.

AWSMicrosoftIBM, and Google all offer training to build up cloud fluency and pursue certification. There are also independent resources such as CloudSkillsCloud Academy, and Coursera available to get help elevate cloud skills.

Cloud migration and adoption requires a committed approach by organizations, says Joe Spurrier, CTO and cofounder of Cloudtamer.io, with engineers and developers taking advantage of APIs, automation, and other tools available from cloud providers to make the transition. “You need that high-level vision from leadership of where you’re trying to get to,” he says.

The multitude of services available from cloud providers, Spurrier says, can potentially make it easier to get team members the skills they need to work in the cloud compared with on-prem. “If you were trying to get someone up to date on technology that requires hands-on access in a data center, you have to buy the equipment, get it all set up,” he says, “whereas cloud -- you can do it from anywhere.” The online nature of cloud obviously makes it possible for training to be conducted wherever the team member might be.

Not every industry needs the full power of the cloud, Spurrier says, however organizations that rely on software and technology risk losing a competitive edge if they do not close the gap on cloud skills. “Their innovation is stifled because of long procurement cycles when trying to build out their own data centers,” he says. “They can see their competitors bypass them pretty quickly.”

According to a report from Gartner, “The Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services Skills I&O Teams Require for the Future,” organizations may soon face the consequences of not ramping up their in-house cloud knowledge:

  • By 2022, at least 35% of infrastructure and operations (I&O) staff must possess software engineering skills to deliver the pace of innovation the business requires.
  • Traditional I&O skills among leaders in 2022 are expected to be insufficient for some 60% of the operational tasks they are responsible for.
  • More than 50% of I&O organizations in 2022 are expected to fail to meet their company cloud adoption goals because of a lack of in-house skills and experience.

“There’s a bit of a race underlying all of this,” says Sam Kroonenburg, co-CEO of A Cloud Guru. “If a company doesn’t move to the cloud, its competitors will.” He says many companies do not have a full assessment of the skills they already have in-house or where they need to fill gaps in cloud knowledge.

Kroonenburg says organizations can take three key steps to build up their in-house cloud skillsets:  

  1. Forming a “center of excellent” within the organization not only creates a focal point for migration efforts, he says, but it is also a place to develop an understanding of potential obstacles. That can include dealing with security issues and industry-specific compliance.
  2. From there, training programs can be rolled out across the broader organizations, Kroonenburg says, for all engineering teams to learn cloud fluency and skills that draw upon best practices from the center of excellence team.
  3. The next step may be to leverage serverless technology, he says, where the organization moves away from managing infrastructure themselves even in the cloud. “In that model, an organization starts publishing code, just code, to the cloud for the applications.”

Working with the cloud can be like dealing with a different language at first, Kroonenburg says, even for veterans of tech. “It can be quite daunting to people who are maybe 20 years in IT,” he says. Many organizations should learn early on to understand and roll out infrastructure as code in a managed way. “That is the first guardrail for any company that moves assets to the cloud,” Kroonenburg says.

Once companies find their footing in the cloud, he says a newfound desire may emerge to use data they amassed and realize value created by the economies of scale in the cloud. “That’s where AI, machine learning, and data analytics capabilities become really important to cloud,” Kroonenburg says.

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