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Do You Have the Right Skill Set in Place for Cloud?

We reached out to key influencers to discuss if companies are realizing the full potential of cloud computing and why they may rely on outside experts.

Our Question: Do most enterprises have an existing IT skill set to effectively realize the benefits of cloud computing, or do they utilize outside expertise?  If they utilize outside expertise, what type(s) of experts are most in demand? We reached out to key influencers to get their feedback and discuss.

What We Learned: “Most enterprises have adopted some form of Cloud Computing engagement in the past 5 years which has driven demand for new on-premise or outsourced IT skill sets,” said Eric Saint-Marc (@thinkahead), Technical Business Architect. “Cloud Architect, Network Architect, System Administrator and a few hybrid Technical Business positions are most in demand,” he continued. “As a side note, early adoption of Cloud Computing started with Line of Business (LoB) realizing the benefits of Software as a Service without much IT involvement, think Saleforce.com.”

“The primary skill is IT service management and no, most enterprises lack that key capability. Furthermore, the required skill sets aren't limited to the IT domain,” said Kevin Jackson (@Kevin_Jackson) founder of GovCloud Network. “Cloud computing, at a minimum, encompasses economic, acquisition, operational, governance, asset management and business model changes. Most enterprise have also not recognized, nor have they implemented, the necessary cultural change management program. Most use outside expertise, but the marketplace is very confusing and real expertise is very hard to find. Those that can link IT service consumption models and cloud economic model options to business or mission goals are most in demand.”

Transition the Talent You Already Have

Some influencers suggested that organizations utilize their existing IT talent by transitioning them into new roles.

“Someone defined the cloud as “someone else’s computer.” Good IT skills for non-cloud platforms can be transitioned relatively easily to cloud environments, said Ben Rothke (@benrothke), principal, security consultant at Nettitude Group. “If someone can manage and secure their firms systems, they should be able to do it for someone else’s system. If firms are willing to train their staff for the transition to the cloud, it’s a win/win situation.”

“Most enterprises aren’t in a position to realize the power of cloud computing. Many are relying on VARs to start the process while training their internal people to start the transition to cloud offerings,” said Tom Hollingsworth (@networkingnerd), founder of The Networking Nerd. “Still others are trying to acquire that talent to get their projects up and running quickly and are willing to pay a premium to get that expertise.”

Do You Have People with Skills Unique to the Cloud?

“Most organizations have the expertise to operate resources in the cloud but not have expertise related to traits unique to the cloud. This includes proper hardening, risk assessments, regulatory compliance, vulnerability assessments, and privileged access management. The cloud contains elements different than on-premise technology and many times these are over looked.

“For example, securing public and private addresses is similar to a DMZ but organization fail to consider hypervisor access, management tools, dormant instances, and DevOps security. Expertise for these attributes typically require outside expertise to validate and recommend the best approach before they become a liability,” said Morey Haber (@MoreyHaber),  Chief Technology Officer at Beyond Trust.

Who Are You Using to Help You? What Tools Should Be Examined.

It’s not just about your own team but about the skills of whoever you bring in to help you achieve your goals.

“Most large-scale enterprises are using tools like VMware, AWS, or Google Cloud at this point while small and mid-cap firms are still making the transition. I'm noticing Google Cloud Platform making significant gains in the enterprise on market leader AWS, with big wins at Spotify, Snap and New York Times over the past 12-18 months,” said John Serrao (@johnserrao), lead developer at THOR Studio.

“You'd see a dichotomy with firm skill set based on head count. Large firms typically have a team that leads the adoption of a given cloud (i.e., VMware, Azure, etc.) and then finds partners versed in that cloud's suite of tools,” he continued. “Small and mid-tier firms would look outside for all of that expertise. But cloud adoption isn't a one-step process: rather, it's usually a years-long transition of mission-critical services that either an internal or external team will lead. That process educates the cloud expertise firms would be looking for. For large firms, their product is sliced into smaller teams (like Search, Mobile, Growth, etc.) which operate quasi-independent technical roadmaps. A CTO would determine the cloud provider and make product managers responsible for the implementation of that cloud within their department - and the staffing to get there. Smaller firms would probably lean completely on outside firms to make those determinations.”

“Most agile, lean organizations balance internal resources and outside expertise.  In the cloud space practical, hands on expertise is still a very hot commodity! Especially when it comes to multi-cloud deployment,” said Evan Kirstel (@evankirstel), founder of evirahealthtech.com.

“Many enterprises do not have the existing IT skill sets or perhaps the availability of their teams to effectively realize the benefits of cloud computing,” said Jason James (@itlinchpin), CIO of Optima Healthcare Solutions. “IT must move quickly with these cloud transformations and are leaning more heavily on external experts to help segment existing skills of their own teams.  The types of experts that are in high demand are those that can analyze current workloads and translate those workloads into comparable cloud services while reducing the risk of cloud-sprawl.”

“A lot do, or they at least have some of the expertise necessary.  However, even enterprises that have all the right skill sets, in my experience, coordinate with a third party to assist with one or more of the following: the initial sizing, migration, and cloud optimization,” said Jason Wankovsky (LinkedIn), CTO and VP of Consulting Services of Mindsight. “Then the existing team either takes over or works with that outside expert party to manage it going forward.”

Finally, It Really Just Depends …

“Whether or not the enterprise has cloud expertise in-house depends on their industry and other factors. Outside expertise that's most in demand includes cloud economics (pricing expertise), application migration, cloud architecture, cloud security, DevSecOps coaching, and service management consulting,” said Will Kelly (@willkelly), senior technical writer & content strategist.

Every company is different and positioned different in terms of staff. It’s important to do you planning up front to determine the best mix of in-house help and outside vendors to put together a winning team for your cloud platforms.

How VMware Sees It

“The growth of cloud services adoption proves the value proposition of cloud.  However, the growth of cloud has also led to a proliferation of cloud services offerings and cloud services providers,” said Jay Workman (@cloudhappens), Senior Director, Cloud Provider Marketing for VMware

“For an enterprise to successfully embrace and leverage the cloud, IT must become a cloud broker – understanding which cloud(s) are ideally suited to which cloud use cases.  A one-size-fits-all approach is not necessarily the best solution.

IT is frequently being tasked to continue to manage legacy applications and compute infrastructure as well as transition workloads to the cloud or implement cloud native solutions.  In short, IT is frequently being spread thin and new skills are required.  One solution, for VMware-based enterprises, is to look for cloud service providers who can provide a complete VMware based cloud infrastructure service. 

Workman concluded: “VMware has made this easy with Cloud Verified.  Cloud Verified signifies a cloud service based on VMware compute, storage and networking technologies which makes compatibility with on-premise and private cloud environment workloads easier.”

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