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Enterprises must address cloud skills gap

Companies now see the light on cloud computing architectures. But they likely need to address the cloud skills gap in their IT departments to manage their environments most effectively.

While companies are adopting cloud computing at faster rates, their strategies may falter if they don’t address the cloud skills gap.

Companies adopt cloud computing, and often a multicloud or hybrid cloud strategy, because it enables them to develop products more quickly, operate with lower up-front capital costs and, potentially, to do so with more secure environments.

According to Gartner estimates, 56% of enterprises used cloud services in 2016; that percentage will increase to 81% in 2018. For the period between 2014 and 2020, growth rates for Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Software as a Service delivery models are estimated at 32%, 20% and 19%, respectively.

Wanted: IT skills

As companies implement these cloud architectures and try to bridge the gap between on-premises data centers and public clouds, they are confronting a clear reality. IT staff may not yet have the skills (including in networking virtualization, networking programming, storage virtualization and other areas) to manage these assets as a centralized, synchronized pool of resources.

At Baystate Health, for example, as the company introduced hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) to build a private cloud, IT executives recognized that  its personnel needed better skills in specializations such as networking virtualization.

“It’s a shift in thinking and a completely different paradigm—especially for networking folks,” said Raj Subramanian, director of infrastructure and technology at Baystate Health, a health system based in Springfield, Mass. “We’re moving from a rigid, static concept to a dynamic concept.”

Subramanian said that staff needed training in these dynamic, virtualized principles, and the company made it a priority.

“Training needs to come first because we don’t want to get caught on a wire,” Subramanian said. “We’ve been keeping our staff well-trained; that’s something where we don’t want to be penny-wise.

We talked with Kirsta Macomber, director of market intelligence at TechTarget, in Newton, Mass., about some of the shifts in the hybrid cloud market and their impact on the cloud skills gap.

“IT departments need to better manage on prem and cloud environments together, automate certain tasks, use analytics to drive insight on how infrastructure is performing and bring security teams onboard to protect their environments,” Macomber said. But cloud orchestration and management, automation and analytics can be challenging for IT departments without the skills.

“We’re seeing an even more significant transformation around people and processes,” Macomber said. “IT staff are going to need to be trained on these new tools and technologies and . . . on how to rethink their role. They need to work hand in hand in lockstep with the business to ensure that they are supporting these modern business requirements.”

For more on this topic, check out our hybrid cloud strategy guide.

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Lauren Horwitz

Lauren Horwitz is the managing editor of Cisco.com, where she covers the IT infrastructure market and develops content strategy. Previously, Horwitz was a senior executive editor in the Business Applications and Architecture group at TechTarget;, a senior editor at Cutter Consortium, an IT research firm; and an editor at the American Prospect, a political journal. She has received awards from American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), a min Best of the Web award and the Kimmerling Prize for best graduate paper for her editing work on the journal article "The Fluid Jurisprudence of Israel's Emergency Powers.”