The explosive growth of Cloud technologies is shaking up IT departments everywhere. This technology shift is creating a new professional skills market that’s in high demand and short supply.
“Everyone is talking about Cloud, but there are so few people that have Cloud skills. There’s a real void of talent.” – Ben Kepes, Principal Analyst at Diversity Limited
For IT professionals, maintaining a job in the age of Cloud computing requires developing a new set of skills to match evolving IT roles. Through analyst interviews and discussions with IT professionals, I’ve identified five skills IT professionals need to position themselves for a career in the Cloud.
1. Learn the C-Suite Vocabulary
For years, there’s been talk about the IT department becoming a “strategic partner” of business. In the age of Cloud computing, this means developing deep knowledge of the range of Cloud-based technologies on the market and how these technologies impact the range of C-level priorities.
Learning about the range of solutions on the market–from IaaS to SaaS technologies–is something that most IT professionals are already undertaking. These days, however, just knowing the solutions isn’t enough.
MR Rangaswami, co-Founder of Sandhill, believes IT professionals also must know how to “map Cloud systems and divide functionality between Cloud and on-premise systems.” Understanding these functional divisions drives efficiencies by ensuring the company has the right mix of technology.
Beyond that, IT professionals must convey to the C-suite (where technology expertise varies) how a recommended Cloud technology supports practical business needs. For instance, some executives may think that everything is ready to move to the Cloud while others have lingering security and privacy questions. IT professionals must be able to deftly navigate this terrain.
2. Become a Developer
In the old world, development and systems operations were two distinct IT functions. The Cloud–and straightforward development frameworks like Ruby–is blurring this division. As Ben Kepes notes, “today’s modern platforms are sufficiently robust and self-contained” to eliminate much of the leg work of deploying and maintaining an application.
Current demand is high for individuals that can code, develop and deploy applications because there are so many applications to build and so few talented next generation developers. As a result, IT professionals are increasingly managing custom development for out-the-box solutions or simply building applications from scratch.
As such, skills working with popular Cloud platforms such as Force.com, Microsoft Azure and other PaaS options that come with development tools is a must, as is a familiarity with popular languages such as PHP, Ruby, JAVA or .NET.
3. Learn Cloud Integration Technologies
Of course, as Cloud applications proliferate in the enterprise, integration skills become essential for IT professionals. Rangaswami says that he’s “spoken with companies that have as many as 10 SaaS and Cloud-based systems deployed.” This creates a need to integrate Cloud applications to one another and to existing legacy systems.
Successfully integrating applications is complicated by the number of integration options and methods at the disposal of IT professionals today. To excel, IT professionals must be versed in third-party Cloud-based integration services such as Boomi and Informatica as well as integration appliances like Cast Iron. When these third-party tools are not sufficient, the IT department may be asked to build a custom integration using SOAP, RESTful APIs or a custom integration server.
With all of these integration needs, Rangaswami believes that there will also be a need for “skills around Master Data Management and Enterprise Architecture” to successfully manage the flow of information between applications.
4. Master Mobile Security
In addition to managing information flow, IT professionals must now manage information access on multiple mobile devices. With roughly 500 million smartphones out there today, and an increasing number of companies allowing employees to ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD), enterprise mobile security is one of the most important IT issues in the Cloud era.
Unfortunately, there is no accepted standard or certification for managing permissions and access to company information from both company issued and personal mobile devices. However, the industry is gravitating toward the OAuth certification standard according to Tom Patros, Principal at IT consultancy Red Argyle. IT developers should be familiar with this and other emerging security measures.
5. Get Certified by One or More Cloud Providers
A final area of focus for the IT community is to obtain Cloud certification from a Cloud provider to show your skills are vetted. A wide range of programs are currently offered by providers such as Amazon, Salesforce, Rackspace and others.
Obtaining certification from a Cloud provider is tactical relative to the strategic areas highlighted here. However, certifications can help add to Cloud skill marketability. And, ultimately, being able to market this new Cloud skill set is crucial to getting, and maintaining, a job in the age of Cloud computing.
IT professionals that proactively seek to develop these Cloud skills will position themselves to have a thriving career in the era of Cloud computing. Since these skills are currently in high demand and short supply, developing this skill set will also ensure a smooth professional transition as the Cloud continues to expand in the enterprise.
What skills do you think IT professionals should develop for the Cloud world? Please leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.
Thumbnail image created by Dmitri Hon.