The Cloud Skills Gap & Barriers to Business Value

As the titans of the public Cloud market, AWS & Azure continue to grow at an exponential rate. IT leaders however, are reporting several factors that are still limiting their access to the – in theory – limitless potential of these resources; the barriers to the efficient business benefits that Cloud IaaS / PaaS has to offer.

Firstly, there is an evident skills gap across the industry. In a recent report by Cloud training specialist A Cloud Guru, 80% of Cloud leaders surveyed, reported a lack of internal skills and knowledge as the primary barrier to successful cloud deployments. This is shown in recruitment too, with ‘Cloud Engineer’, ‘Software Architect’ and ‘Cloud Consultant’ topping the list of most in-demand Cloud roles in 2021 so far. Not surprisingly, the job market for Cloud roles overall has increased by 42% since 2018.

For many, the pool of talent available has opened up somewhat due to the wide success of proficient home-working since the pandemic, creating opportunities for skilled individuals and businesses alike. Without the traditional limitations of needing to be geographically located near the business premises, options are far wider and businesses are actively looking for candidates with experience over academic qualifications for these roles; the report indicating that 87% of hiring managers said they “value hands-on experience and certifications over a university degree” while 82% said Cloud certifications make a candidate more attractive.

AWS remain the dominant player in the Public Cloud market but the number of candidates seeking Cloud skills training has had significant growth with Azure, with training-hours for Microsoft’s offering increasing by 800% year-on-year since 2018, compared to 50%-100% for Google and AWS. Evidently, acquiring multi-cloud knowledge is the norm following business demand.

Closing the Cloud Skills Gap

Many organizations have taken strides to establish a Cloud Governance function, or ‘Cloud Centre of Excellence’ as purportedly described by AWS Global Head of Enterprise Strategy, Stephen Orban, back in 2016. The function describes bringing together individuals experienced in the business’s procurement, finance, operations and security processes as well as technical IT staff, to bring about best-practices, planning, governance and to help the migration of workloads to the Cloud. The purpose here being don’t delay Cloud adoption – but as many organizations know, the strategy and timing needs to also be just right for best value to be achieved.

What also needs considering is that your Cloud Centre of Excellence should (from IT’s perspective) be an extension of what your ITAM and SAM team are already doing; actively providing visibility, governance and cost optimization of IT assets everywhere. These processes are not new and extending control to Cloud IaaS / PaaS and getting the information needed to govern the expense is achievable; you would just need to identify the knowledge gaps and ensure the team are informed with the best Cloud Management Platform.

The first step here, is identifying the capability you already have and deciding where you want to be. Conducting a SWOT analysis is useful, to identify the skills that staff already have and identify the gaps.

Once known; decide whether to train, outsource or hire. With there being a Cloud skills shortage, it may be difficult to hire, so depending on organizational budgets it may be advisable to look to our source or upskill existing staff.

Independent and Cloud vendor’s have training courses that are widely available and it’s important to allow time for asset management teams to refresh and upskill, to keep ahead of the curve with the ever-moving targets they’re managing.

Where possible, promote from within and give individuals the opportunities to advance their career and deliver greater value to your business. Institutional knowledge and experience with your infrastructure and environments can only strengthen the Cloud team and saves money on recruitment and training time.

With skills secured and your Cloud Centre of Excellence aligned to the ITAM & SAM teams, the other vital component is ensuring that they’re fully informed with the best possible Cloud Asset Management solution and that in doing so, you’re not needlessly duplicating any asset management data or function with a separate toolset, just to give you visibility of Cloud IaaS and PaaS; what is required is a single, holistic technology platform to manage IT assets everywhere, including Cloud,  ensuring your entire on-premise infrastructure. This removes noise and unnecessary complexity by having everything you need simply in one place.

Squeezing Value from the Cloud

Cloud adoption accelerates time-to-value for new products and solutions being implemented, but it’s the governance of those solutions in the long-term that will determine the overall value to the business.

The role of IT within businesses is clearly growing. And it’s great that the traditionally ‘back office’ function is moving more and more to the forefront of delivering business value. Cloud adoption is an enabler to IT to deliver new means for businesses to operate and prosper, so it’s essential that with that transformational change, solid foundations are also put in place to control the security and financial overheads that the ‘limitless’ Cloud adoption has on the business.

Besides skills, the next barrier to attaining business value via the Cloud is Cloud Management Solutions, that is to say, not simply tools that are useful to provision Cloud IaaS / PaaS but also to manage Cloud resources long-term as Business Assets that deliver value.

These disciplines of managing and optimizing value from Hardware & Software assets are not new, and IT leaders are recognizing the benefits of unifying the old toolsets traditionally used to manage all different types of IT assets on-premise and now with increasing home working, supporting operations out in the wild; hardware, software, licensing, mobile, datacenter etc.… the more these once independent functions can be brought on to a single management platform, the more the power of Business Intelligence increases through having IT asset data consolidated and accessible via a single platform solution. That means faster, safer decision making, greater insight and operational benefit through working from a ‘Single Pane of Glass’ solution instead of a raft of disparate, unhelpful legacy toolsets that don’t integrate well and all have data effectively held up in silos.

The benefits to IT in consolidating these functions are many, so – why should Cloud IaaS / PaaS (and SaaS for that matter) be any different?

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