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Are You "Licensed to Cloud"?

So what's your game plan to recruit, train, and sustain a work-force that can meet the challenge?

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Illustration by Jemma Vandali. She'll be drawing one up for all of my blogs.


Can you keep up with innovation?

Even with skilled staff in place, organisations can struggle to keep up with the pace of innovation in cloud services. Just look at AWS, they added 1,000 new features and capabilities in 2016[1], an average of three new things every day, while other cloud service providers are ramping up their speed of innovation and deployment too in order to compete.

At the infrastructure level, serverless architectures are heralded as the next big thing for IT optimisation and flexibility, while software containers are becoming more widespread as organisations take advantage of the systems to minimise development times by creating portable applications that work in any environment. Then there's the new platforms being built to support machine learning and IoT, which offer whole challenges and opportunities for startups and innovative enterprise businesses alike.

Your cloud architects and DevOps teams will need to spend time learning about these new innovations to understand if and how they can suit your organisations. Education and certification courses can also be significant costs, especially if staff need to be trained up on several different disciplines. They are an investment in the individual, and if that person leaves the business, their expertise and investment goes with them.

Understanding your hybrid cloud skills gap

To make the challenge even more interesting, hybrid cloud is the preferred cloud deployment option among businesses and large organisations around the world.

Innovation comes from a variety of sources, including our internal resource pools and external cloud providers.

The consumerisation of public cloud infrastructure has made it easy to self-provision services. Yet architecting a suitable hybrid cloud deployment and getting the most out of it remains a complex proposition. Organisations need access to a sophisticated set of skills across a number of disciplines. So how should organisations evaluate whether to push ahead on their own or partner with external experts? We look at three challenges that IT and business leaders face in the sustainable deployment of hybrid cloud.

Do you have the right people?

Finding people with the right skill set for your organisation's deployment can be a challenge. The most compatible cloud environment for each organisation can be very different. Even with the same technology, there may be differences in the way that each environment is set up: physical installation, network configuration, operating system management, security of the environment, business continuity, and governance of service are just the beginning.

Therefore, identifying the skills you need to meet your business objectives is the first hurdle. Most of the major cloud providers offer certifications in their respective platform technologies to help you identify individuals who are qualified in the areas you need. AWS for example has associate and professional levels for architect, developer, and operations roles, with further certifications for specialities including big data and advanced networking.

Qualified professionals are in high demand around the world. In Australia for example, statistics show that over the past year the number of AWS job postings was consistently six to 12 times the number of job seekers looking at the roles. According to the 2017 State of the CIO report, 60 percent of responding CIOs said they are experiencing an ongoing skills shortage[1]. The shortage of skilled professionals is driving up the cost of recruitment as major tech companies compete to attract and retain the best talent. Going forward, it will become increasingly difficult to find the right talent due to growing competition.

So what's your game plan to recruit, train, and sustain a work-force that can meet the challenge?

Do you have the right model?

In the consumer space "capability" is fast moving from a project-based cap-ex discussion into a continuous development op-ex discussion. Resources (people) are now being assigned to a feature set, not a project. Their roles are to ensure those features are maintained, secured, and upgraded continuously. The end of the project is when the capability is retired and/or replaced.

A model of assigning op-ex to features rather than projects can help to focus the business on what's most important, and potentially alleviate some of the politics of projects. We've all seen projects where complexity and costs have driven up to make the project fit into a capital budget, and we've all seen good systems die due to under-investment post project implementation.

When we look at investing people into capabilities, it can become clear rather quickly which capabilities are core to the business and which are ancillary. My tip is to get your talent working on those that will make a difference to your business, and push the ancillary functions out to a partner (whose core business is your non-core business).

Is DIY hybrid cloud easily obtainable or a distraction?

Some organisations already employ staff with the relevant skills and knowledge to build a hybrid cloud. They should consider the impact on their business by removing these individuals from their day-to-day jobs to get hands-on with the project. The cloud deployment may be delayed as resources become stretched, or business-as-usual issues might take a back seat, resulting in poorer experiences for current users and customers. Neither outcome is ideal.

Given the aforementioned challenges, the competitive marketplace for cloud skills, and the need to move quickly with hybrid cloud deployments to achieve strategic business goals, it is no wonder that many organisations[2] are turning to cloud consulting partners and managed service providers.

Professional services and consulting teams can help to create the strategy and architecture for deployment, assist in the initial migration, and optimise governance, security, and performance. Bringing in certified cloud experts with significant battle-tested experience on migration projects and cloud management can help deliver a strategy, from network connectivity through to application and architectures, that works for your business. These engagements, if done well, also give your teams access to new ideas, processes, and methodologies that they can incorporate into their own work.

Ultimately, whether IT leaders seek to leverage external expertise for some or all of their hybrid cloud deployment, the ability to concentrate on achieving their strategic business goals without sinking time and resources into the transformation process is a key advantage.

The question of whether to do migrations and deployments in-house or partner with a leading technology company is just one aspect of the hybrid cloud journey.

Get more information on how we are helping organisations get the most from hybrid cloud, read our blueprint for best practice guide.

[1]http://core0.staticworld.net/assets/2017/02/20/state_of_the_cio_exec-summary_2017.pdf

[2] http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170913005656/en/Managed-Services-Market-2017---Global-forecast

[1] AWS shoots for total cloud domination | TechCrunch(https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/02/aws-shoots-for-total-cloud-domination/)

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