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Skills Shortage Rains on Cloud Advances

By Jack M. Germain TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
Nov 3, 2020 4:35 AM PT
cloud computing skills shortage

A Cloud Guru (ACG) in September released the "State of Cloud Learning" report which shows that cloud expertise, measured via certifications and hands-on proficiency, is growing in value for both companies and the individuals who work for them.

ACG analyzed cloud learning priorities among enterprise teams and individual learners. The report found widespread intent to accelerate cloud adoption and a surge in demand for Azure-related content.

More than 90 percent of IT leaders surveyed expect to expand their cloud services in the next one to three years. Despite this testament to the benefits of cloud adoption, enterprises may find a lack of qualified IT workers to fill those positions.

A related story focusing on ACG's corporate actions to help fill that growing gap in trained Linux technicians details the company's recent launch of its new flagship cloud training platform this summer. That platform addresses the shortage of tech workers needing Linux-based cloud training. It offers a comprehensive, hands-on solution through a cloud-based learning platform.

ACG's research for the report incorporated analysis of more than three million hours of its usage data and surveyed 26,000 cloud learners -- including IT leaders, engineers, and developers. It uncovers how the industry is thinking about the most popular cloud learning platforms, the barriers to growth in cloud expertise, and the future of cloud skills development.

Findings show a solid agreement among business leaders of the growing value of cloud technology to their operations. The survey results also demonstrate a strong majority of workers and hiring managers favor company-provided training support for gaining cloud expertise.

Cloud adoption has become critical to a company's growth trajectory and durability, making acquiring and retaining cloud-skilled talent a top priority for IT teams, according to Sam Kroonenburg, A Cloud Guru CEO and co-founder.

"To ensure our platform best meets current needs, we turned to IT leaders and practitioners to identify the focus areas and prominent challenges associated with ongoing cloud learning in today's complex environment," he said.

Benefits Breakout for Business

Almost three-quarters (71 percent) of enterprise leaders are already seeing cloud adoption speed up their time-to-value for new products and features.

Nearly all (97 percent) of cloud leaders believe their organizations would function more effectively with a uniform shared basis of cloud knowledge.

Almost the same number (94 percent) of employees are more likely to stay long-term with an employer who invests in their career through skills development

A number of IT-related areas have organizations that are struggling to find enough qualified or experienced staff, offered Paul Holland, principal research analyst at the Information Security Forum.

"Cross training within an organization is a good method of closing the skills gap by picking individuals who already work for and understand the organization you have people who are bought into company ethos and values," he told TechNewsWorld.

Benefits Overview for Individuals

Slightly more than half (52 percent) of workers acknowledged that cloud certifications expanded their career opportunities.

More than 80 percent of those respondents indicated that they gained a higher salary as a direct result of cloud certification.

A slightly higher percentage (82 percent) of hiring managers said cloud certifications make a candidate more attractive. Even more hiring managers (87 percent) valued cloud expertise over a university degree.

The lack of time IT workers have to keep up with new technologies creates a shortage of expertise for said technologies. It also highlights that we expect IT pros to have much broader knowledge than in the past, according to Thomas Hatch, CTO and co-founder at SaltStack.

"It used to be that they just needed to know Linux, but now they need to know Linux, DevOps, multiple cloud platforms, CI/CD pipelines, etc. While new automation capabilities for IT and cloud operations have improved the speed of development, it has introduced a vast array of unique tools that are hard to learn and keep up on," he told TechNewsWorld.

"This means that training MUST be carved out in a forceful way within companies today."

Multi-Cloud Skillset

Corporation leaders and IT workers should not settle for complacency with only one cloud platform. The future of skills development is multi-cloud, according to the report's findings.

Nearly 70 percent of respondents confirmed their organization is currently utilizing multiple cloud platforms. As cloud adoption continues and IT leaders attempt to build and execute this transition, the demand for cloud professionals is heightened across all three major cloud providers: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, according to the report.

Of those three leading cloud providers, AWS expertise was cited in the survey as the most commonly used platform. More than 80 percent trained on it. A wide gap separated the other two major platforms, with Azure at 35 percent, and GCP at 30 percent.

Similarly, more than 70 percent of administrators identified AWS as the primary cloud platform used within their organization, while Azure and GCP were identified as the primary cloud platform less than 10 percent of the time.

But the top popularity spot the survey indicated for AWS might soon be challenged for closely by Azure. In June, Azure training time was up nearly 800 percent year-over-year compared to between 50-100 percent for AWS and Google Cloud.

Respondents indicated that Azure was their intended training platform in the future, at least by a slight margin of 54 percent. But AWS and GCP followed close behind.

Cloud Learning Challenges Exist

The report clearly shows that some roadblocks are in the way of executing on-cloud learning programs. Only 10 percent of respondents reported low buy-in from leadership. The problem is at the worker end with not enough technically trained workers to fill existing IT-cloud job vacancies.

Tech teams face a lack of skilled talent and struggle to find the time to improve their skills, according to the report. Over 80 percent of cloud leaders identified a lack of internal skills and knowledge as a top barrier to cloud success.

Despite a near-universal expectation of expanding cloud services in the near future, only 56 percent of cloud leaders reported having an actionable plan to provide advanced training to their workforce. Over three-quarters of cloud learning administrators said that the hardest part about guiding employees through cloud training is balancing competing priorities with day-to-day work.

That sentiment was echoed by more than 76 percent of learners. They identified finding time to study as the biggest barrier to expanding their cloud knowledge.

To combat that challenge, almost three-quarters (70 percent) of learning administrators identified online training and certification incentives as their most effective strategies for overcoming the time problem and advancing learning throughout the organization.

One of the most significant revelations in the report is the gap between knowing that an unskilled workforce is the biggest barrier to cloud success and physically taking the proper steps to implement a solution, noted Katie Bullard, president of the e-learning platform at ACG.

"Per the report, 80 percent of cloud leaders point to an unskilled workforce as the biggest hurdle to overcome, yet only 56 percent of them report having an actionable plan to train their employees on cloud skills. This contrast highlights the growing industry need for an easy-to-execute, comprehensive, and cost-effective solution that efficiently trains employees," she told TechNewsWorld.


Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.


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