Main image of article Take Advantage of the Gap Between Cloud Skills and Demand

It’s full steam ahead for companies when it comes to developing new technologies for the cloud. Seventy-five percent of tech leaders are developing new products for the cloud, according to the “2022 State of Cloud” report by technology workforce development company Pluralsight. There’s just one problem: The report also revealed that only eight percent of global tech workers have extensive cloud skills and experience.

Companies spent $73.9 billion on cloud infrastructure in 2021, an increase of 8.8 percent from 2020, per IDC’s Quarterly Enterprise Infrastructure Tracker. “It looks like a ton of investments are being made by companies in terms of cloud computing, but unfortunately, they're not really getting that return on investment,” said Drew Firment, vice president of enterprise strategies at Pluralsight.

Firment sees the disconnect as a paradigm shift in both how companies are approaching cloud investments and how individuals are planning to acquire cloud skills. In fact, “cloud takes about three to six months longer to grasp than more traditional technologies,” Firment said. That’s caused by factors such as elasticity, scalability and resiliency.

What’s led to this disconnect between cloud product development and cloud skills? The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the rush to get products online, noted Varun Bijlani, general manager of hybrid cloud transformation for IBM Consulting. The rush brought increasing complexity, with clouds being built on top of clouds.

That means businesses require people with the skills to handle workflows for multiple clouds, or a hybrid cloud environment. These tasks call for cloud architects, microservice developers, and data engineers who can break down these silos and build interoperability.

“Today, companies simply do not have enough talent—cloud architects, microservice developers and data engineers—with the appropriate skills to meet the increased demand, and to design and run a hybrid cloud environment, especially when that pool of talent is potentially spread across managing different clouds,” Bijlani said.

IBM’s Transformation Index: State of Cloud also shows a disconnect between organizations’ plans and technologist skills. In the IBM survey, 69 percent of respondents lacked the necessary cloud skills, but 71 percent of organizations still planned to establish new positions to address these needs.

Security, compliance concerns delay cloud maturity

Security and compliance concerns are hindering development of cloud maturity, according to 45 percent of organizations in the Pluralsight survey.

“You really have to understand the shared security model within each of the different cloud providers,” Firment said. “And that includes things like encryption as well as identity and access management.”

Firment also cited migration of application workloads as a challenge for companies ramping up cloud adoption. Cloud security and compliance are particularly relevant in industries that have a high amount of regulations like banking and government.

Here are three ways you can build your cloud skills:

1. Speak the Cloud Language

You shouldn’t need a translator when it comes to the cloud, according to Firment. Learn how to speak the language of the cloud. For example, talking about an AWS cloud involves discussion of Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), a service that offers scalable computing capacity based on a company’s requirements, and Elastic Block Store (EBS), in which companies store data in blocks across multiple environments.

“Being able to speak the language or at least understand the language is essential if you want to participate in this cloud culture that's forming,” Firment said. Cloud literacy is followed by cloud fluency as far as hands-on experience and operating cloud applications within a specific business environment.

2. Enroll in Certification Programs

Another helpful strategy entails pursing cloud certification programs, which all the major cloud providers offer. For example, AWS offers a Certified Cloud Practitioner program.

3. Join a Center of Excellence

Bijlani recommends learning cloud skills through a center of excellence (COE), which is a group or facility that provides training in a focused area. COEs incubate talent and then receive support requests from CIOs, he noted.    

“The goal of the center of excellence is to help dissolve the silos that have been created and demonstrate improved ways of working that services your customers and employees better than a fragmented approach,” Bijlani said.