Monday we covered the fact that obtaining people with the right cloud computing skills is becoming a challenge. Demand for “cloud-ready” IT workers will grow 26% annually through 2015, with as many as 7 million new cloud-related jobs available worldwide by that time. This, according to a new IDC report (sponsored by Microsoft).
Last year, Microsoft did a similar survey with IDC, where they found that public and private IT cloud spending will generate nearly 14 million jobs worldwide by the year 2015. Moreover, IT innovation, driven by cloud computing, could produce over $1 trillion dollars in business revenue (see Figure).
The core problem is that we’ve yet to define what “cloud-related jobs” are, and most hiring managers have no clue how to write the job descriptions as of yet. This is due largely to the fact that most enterprises do not yet have cloud computing strategies in place. Thus, if you don’t know where you’re going, you can’t plan on how you’re going to get there.
The first step in the process of improving your enterprise’s cloud computing capabilities is to define your potential use of cloud computing technology, and the plan for implementation. A good 3 year plan should include:
- Business objectives of leveraging cloud-based technology.
- Prioritized list of systems that are candidates for migration to cloud-based platforms.
- Data and application migration planning, including defining the steps and complexities of the migrations.
- Cloud-based data management planning, including definitions of target database systems.
- Cloud governance and security planning, including likely technology solutions.
- Cloud operations planning, including likely monitoring and management tools.
Many consider long term planning to be difficult in environments where business priorities are constantly shifting. You can certainly shorten the planning horizon. However, the objective of defining the core vision for the use of cloud-based technology, writing it down, and getting everyone to agree to it, is a critical step in the process of defining which human resources you’ll require to be successful with the use of cloud-based technologies. This is applicable within any technological shift.
Out of this plan you should be able to define several categories of job skills that you will require, including, but not limited to:
- Cloud architects who focus on turning the configuration of the cloud-based systems and solutions into something that meets the business requirements.
- Cloud developers who focus on the configuration and development of the cloud-based systems, including coding within the specific target PaaS or IaaS cloud platforms, with deep knowledge as to how those platforms function.
- Cloud database specialists who focus on the use of cloud-based database systems and how they interact with cloud-based or legacy systems.
- Cloud systems quality specialists who focus on testing migrated or developed cloud-based systems to insure that they live up to business and quality expectations.
- Cloud security specialists who focus on the proper way to secure information existing within cloud-based systems.
- Cloud operations specialists who focus on the operations of the cloud-based systems, including monitoring and active governance of those systems.
Of course, there could be a few job categories that you’ll require due to the special needs of your business. For example, a compliance specialist, if you’re in a heavily regulated industry such as finance or healthcare.
The most difficult step is to actually find the qualified people you need to gather the skills required to support the movement to the cloud. Cloud-based systems are new on the enterprise scene, and thus there are few out there who understand this technology, not to mention have expert knowledge.
Of course, you can build your own experts by providing internal training. Or, hire from the outside. What works best is typically a combination of both.
Say we want to buy talent. This is not an article about recruiting, but it’s been my experience that if you’re looking to attract and keep the right talent, a plan should be put together that includes compensation, motivation, and opportunity. The environment should be both encouraging and innovative, providing clearly defined opportunities and objectives.
Compensation should be competitive, but it’s not required that you pay way over market if you’ve established an environment where the technically gifted can thrive. Consider bonuses around delivery of project milestones, generous work-at-home policies, extra vacation days, and other creative ways to compensate and retain key cloud computing talent.
Building, cloud talent is a bit more complex. You need to determine if you have the raw materials required to build the skills listed above. Many of your existing IT staffers may be good at their jobs, but may not posses the ability to adopt and excel with newer cloud computing technology. Of course, some will. You need to be careful where you place your bets. Consider the cost of cloud computing training, and the lag before you’re able to determine if they can fill your cloud skills requirements.
The movement to the cloud won’t be limited by the technology. It will be limited by our ability to use the technology correctly. If we don’t have the skills in place by the time cloud computing technology becomes a strategy differentiator for our business, then we run the risk of not meeting the needs of the business.