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The Cloud Management Skills Gap Is Real. Here Are 5 Ways to Adapt

Many organizations that are either new to the cloud or rapidly scaling cloud usage, quickly realize that the technical skills and operational frameworks of the past don’t always apply to the nuances of managing a cloud environment. Gartner recently published a report that addresses the primary skills today’s infrastructure and operations (I&O) teams will need to maximize the full potential of public cloud infrastructure and platform services (CIPS).

In a recent Gartner survey of infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders, 58% of respondents ranked “insufficient skills and resources” as the biggest challenge they’ll face when it comes to meeting company cloud adoption and optimization goals. 

In a previous article, we listed the key skills that Gartner says I&O teams need in order to maximize the full potential of cloud platforms and services. These include technical skills like continuous configuration automation and cloud cost management, as well as soft skills like agile delivery methods and mission-focused collaboration.

In this article, we’ll go on to explain five primary ways I&O leaders can address the cloud management skills gap, along with practical resources and recommendations to help facilitate their efforts.

Five ways to bridge the cloud management skills gap

1. Promote from within, with a focus on attitude over skills

Although hiring externally is always an option, the current employee market is highly competitive, and compared to internal employees, external hires can take longer to come up to speed. Not to mention the resources dedicated to recruiting and onboarding new talent. I&O leaders should focus on retaining and developing internal employees with long-term growth plans and promotion paths. This will not only motivate and reward employees, it will help build a robust team of experienced employees over time. 

When selecting people for new roles or promotions (regardless of whether they’re sourced internally or externally), managers should prioritize attitudes and behaviors over completeness of skills. Technical skills can be learned, but attitudes are difficult to change.

2. Pair programming and self-paced learning

According to Gartner, “Pair programming is the notion of pairing two individuals, one typically more experienced than the other in a particular domain, together in a side-by-side setting to write software together. This enables less-experienced individuals to get one-on-one, experiential learning with the benefit of more-experienced developers.” Gartner also recommends to “Combine pair programming with self-paced learning programs, such as those offered by Pluralsight, Udacity and Coursera, to serve as reinforcements of each other.”

3. Take advantage of training programs

Cloud service providers and other organizations (such as CloudHealth) offer training and certification programs designed for administrators, software developers, and other cloud users. Especially for those with substantial usage in specific environments, such as AWS, Azure, or GCP, organizations should invest in training that accounts for the uniqueness of their cloud service providers’ offerings. 

We suggest adding programs like this to employees’ quarterly/yearly performance goals to help promote a company-wide culture of continuous learning. Even more experienced employees can benefit by expanding their existing skill set and potentially discovering new, better ways of working. Additionally, by establishing a consistent and foundational cloud training program, there will be a common dialect of cloud terminology and best practices across the organization. 

For quick access, you can see the training and certification programs from leading cloud service providers here: 

CloudHealth provides access to mapping kits to assist with various industry competencies and accreditations, such as the AWS MSP Program Audit and Azure Expert MSP Audit and the AWS Well-Architected Framework, by demonstrating capabilities across several mandatory requirements.

4. Learn by deploying and collaborating

Gartner states that there’s “no substitute for experiential learning, particularly as it relates to gaining cloud IaaS skills. The most effective way to build cloud skills is to use the cloud.” In combination with the recommendations we’ve provided above, your team should not be shy to experiment with new deployments and operations, especially within testing environments. 

Ideally, organizations will also provide a shared platform or space for individuals and teams to share lessons learned along the way. With this, even distributed teams can implement best practices discovered by their teammates in different departments, locations, or business units. 

5. Leverage cloud managed service providers and solutions

Another way to bridge the cloud skills gap is to leverage cloud managed service providers (MSPs). According to Gartner, “MSPs bring skills, experience, process maturity, and established toolsets to accelerate and improve public cloud results for clients.” MSPs can help with tactical, technical, and strategic initiatives, and provide expertise with specific cloud environments, such as hybrid cloud and multi-cloud, or specific projects, such as migration, cloud cost management, performance optimization, security and compliance, and more. 

Thousands of organizations around the world depend on the CloudHealth portfolio to support their current and future business goals. CloudHealth gives you the ability to optimize, govern, and secure even the largest and most complex multi-cloud environments. You can learn more in our solution brief here or feel free to get in touch with our team directly.

Gartner, The Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services Skills I&O Teams Require for the Future, Raj Bala, Ross Winser, 2 September 2020