The Evolution of Cloud Skills

The Evolution of Cloud Skills
How many times have you used your phone to check your emails this week? Have you backed up an important file online recently? Streamed some music while you worked? Or video conferenced a colleague in another office? If you’ve done any – or all – of these things, you’ve used the Cloud.

The Cloud is the power behind all kinds of simple tasks that we each complete every day. It’s not a new phenomenon – effectively, it applies to any service that’s delivered over the web. But, as our lives have become increasingly entwined with the internet, our reliance on the Cloud has grown significantly.

It’s woven its way into the core of business too. So much so, that many businesses simply couldn’t function without it. It comes as little surprise, therefore, that demand for people who possess Cloud skills continues to soar, as this quarter’s Tech Cities Job Watch confirmed. In fact, the number of Cloud-based roles advertised has almost doubled in the past year; with Cloud-based contractor roles representing almost a third of all the short-term positions advertised across the five core tech disciplines (Big Data, Cloud, IT Security, Mobile, Web Development); whilst permanent roles represent a quarter.

However, despite growing demand for Cloud skills, salaries for these roles in general seem to have stagnated. And it would appear that this is because many organisations are looking for technologists who can use the Cloud, rather than build it. While specialist roles remain in demand, organisations are increasingly looking for IT professionals who can maintain, optimise and enhance their existing Cloud platforms. These roles often demand a lower premium.

However, there are a few key areas which still require specialist Cloud knowledge. These are:

1. Application development and deployment

The Cloud is a great medium for enterprise applications, and supports a DevOps collaborative approach. This means individuals who can harness available functionality in the various Cloud stack frameworks are in high demand. And, when it comes to deployment, Cloud-based servers can be configured in different ways to optimise their usage. So, people with skills that are associated with virtual machines and, more recently, containers are in demand.

2. Application security

Using publicly available Cloud-based applications is a risky business. Developing applications for delivery via the Cloud is too. As hackers get smarter, the Cloud presents a potential weakness in an organisation’s defences. So they need people on board who understand the potential threats – and, more importantly, how to resolve them.

3. Database specialists

Big Data will increasingly rely on the Cloud, as a repository for the growing pools of data that’s emanating from a variety of sources. Specialists are needed who understand how to harness the functionality associated with the Cloud provider’s platform.

4. Migration specialists

Moving some – or all – of an organisation’s IT system into the Cloud requires expertise to ensure that the migration doesn’t disrupt the wider business. Similarly, integrating Cloud and non-Cloud applications to ensure interoperability and a consistency in respect to security, responsiveness, IT governance and data integrity is key to the quality of the business model. Experts are needed to facilitate both.

The initial surge for Cloud adoption 5-10 years ago placed a premium on Cloud architecture skills and qualifications, and inspired IT professionals to upskill to capitalise on the favourable conditions. Today’s business requirements may be driving a different mix of Cloud skills, but the opportunities available are still plentiful.

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