IT leaders continue to struggle with finding the cloud talent they need, not only to adopt the cloud within their organizations but to modernize and optimize their applications and operations. Without it, they can’t take full advantage of advanced cloud-native capabilities offered by hyperscale platforms.
This means there’s a big professional opportunity for technologists—from those just starting their careers to experienced engineers—who are willing to learn and develop the right skills.
Which begs the question: What are the “right” skills? Cloud is an inherently big category and getting bigger every day. Cloud is also about much more than just infrastructure. Depth and breadth of cloud-native capabilities has become the crucible for innovation—the organizations and individuals that build their abilities and expertise will pass the test. The others risk being left behind.
We see five crucial skill groups that technologists across a variety of roles need to have to be able to succeed in a modern IT shop. Let’s take a closer look.
The Fundamentals: What Is Cloud?
Sure, you probably already know a bit about cloud. You don’t need a definition. The question actually indicates a steeper hill technologists must climb, however: Learning the ins and outs of what the hyperscaler platforms provide and all that you can truly do.
This includes everything from architectural patterns to pricing to security to available tools and integrations. At the base level, consider starting by gaining an understanding of how architecture works on a given platform.
There’s a natural follow-up question here: Which cloud – AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform?
The answer is you can’t really go wrong with any of them, and some people may choose to learn all three. But if you’re targeting particular types of employers or customers, then that can guide your choice.
The good news here is that there is an enormous amount of content, communities, certifications, and other opportunities to learn.
Migration Techniques and Tools
This is a good next step since so many organizations are still in the relatively early phases of their cloud journeys. There are tons of legacy enterprise apps still running on-premises even in companies that already have a large cloud footprint.
Moreover, those companies need people who can help not only with application migration but also with integration, testing, and other requirements.
They also need people who understand and can manage networking between on-premises and cloud (or multi-cloud) environments, also known as hybrid cloud.
There are a wide range of application migration techniques (such as lift-and-shift and refactoring) and tooling. Each of the major cloud platforms offers various tools, for example—such as Azure Migrate, AWS Application Migration Service, and Migrate for Compute Engine (GCP).
It’s a single word but it describes a vast, fast-growing category of IT skills. As an organization’s hybrid and/or multi-cloud footprint expands, it becomes absolutely vital for it to be able to automate as much of its operations as possible.
Enterprise IT has historically lacked agility in its on-premises operating model. Change is painfully slow; these legacy processes can be innovation killers.
Automation is the key that unlocks faster, more agile IT operations in the cloud. It’s a core skill for IT pros.
Popular technologies here include Terraform and Ansible, and there are many other examples, such as Azure DevOps and Jenkins. (Many tools linked to the DevOps toolchain have an automation component if not an outright focus.)
Cloud-Native Skills & Services
Automation bleeds into the massive cloud-native landscape as well. There are already so many options – from a professional development standpoint, it’s kind of a matter of taking your pick on where to get started and/or where to specialize.
As hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments mature, organizations will look to scale up their integration and use of the cloud-native they now have access to via their hyperscaler platforms of choice.
They are often consistent across clouds, though there are also platform-native services and capabilities as well.
A compelling starting point here is with the enterprise data lake—each hyperscaler platform offers one—and other data management technologies. Data drives so much of the innovation that occurs in the cloud once a company arrives there, so there will be a relentless need for people who can acquire, manage, and analyze it.
Finally, a “bonus” skill that doesn’t show up on as many lists: There will be a growing need for cloud professionals who have user interface/user experience (UI/UX) skills and experience.
This could be as relatively straightforward as adding a UI-centric language like React to your arsenal, but obviously UI/UX is a much broader knowledge domain than a single programming language or library.
No matter how you go about it, UI/UX skills—especially paired with other cloud expertise—will be highly valuable.
As companies bring new apps, services, and data products online, they’ll need to ensure that they’re consumable by diverse internal users—not just other IT pros.
Delivering new capabilities is only as valuable as the ease with which key stakeholders can understand and act on them. Ultimately, that’s what’s driving the demand for each of these skill groups—and the IT pros who develop them.
Eamonn O'Neill is Co-founder, Director and CTO of Lemongrass.