How to Overcome the Cloud Skill Shortage

The main options for addressing the cloud skills problem are hiring from outside the organization or upskilling internal staff.

The surge in cloud computing projects during the COVID-19 pandemic was a boon for cloud providers, with some reporting in excess of 50 percent revenue growth per quarter in 2020 and 2021. For businesses undertaking a migration, however, the inflated demand for staff with the skill for clouds has led to projects being understaffed, over budget, and not properly realized.

Gartner forecasted that by 2025, 95 percent of apps will be “cloud-native,” up from approximately 30 percent in 2021. That’s a lot of transition across multiple industries, many of which have not got the talent in place to organize a smooth transition from on-premises technology to cloud native. 

Multiple surveys over the past 12 months have found a lack of skilled staff to be one of the main barriers for organizations working on cloud projects. According to HashiCorp’s State of Cloud 2022, 41 percent of respondents said a lack of in-house talent was an inhibitor to a successful cloud program. Outsystems SoCAD Report also found that both cloud-native leaders and laggards struggled to acquire talent across all IT roles, with cloud architects a standout critical role that was very high in demand. 

See also: Cloud Basics: Environment-as-a-Service

Supply Isn’t Likely to Meet Demand

It doesn’t appear likely that supply will catch up with demand in the next few years, although as businesses prepare for a potential recession, it may lead to fewer projects being greenlit over the next 12 months. Even still, organizations should not bank on a recession to provide them with higher-quality talent.

Instead, training and retraining of staff has been pushed as a way for businesses to transition to cloud-based technology without having to hire technically-proficient staff at a much higher wage cost. Businesses can reinvest in their current workforce through eLearning, alongside on-site training courses that take the skills employees already have and adapt them to cloud-native environments. 

Retraining may only take a business so far, especially if the transition from the current program to cloud is a major upheaval to operations. In some cases, hiring cloud expertise may be valuable, according to Deloitte’s guide on how to tackle software engineering skill shortages, especially for management roles. 

Alongside retraining, businesses can also look at using technologies that are flexible and scalable, and only require small amounts of retraining. Often cloud projects can lead to cloud sprawl, due to a lack of clear strategy implemented before production started. If businesses spend more time in the pre-production stage ensuring that their goals are attainable without major investment, they should be less likely to wander off track and require specialized staff.

“For example, companies looking to migrate from a legacy system to a distributed, cloud system can do so in a manageable process,” said Rahul Pradhan, VP of cloud products at Couchbase. “There are platforms available to support the programming languages developers already use. By fusing the trusted strengths of relational databases with the flexibility, performance, and scale of cloud databases, many organizations can address these pain points. Enterprises looking to future-proof their organizations by modernizing should research technologies that can facilitate this move and provide long-term benefits to both developer and IT teams.”

There’s not a one-fits-all solution to address the cloud skill shortage, and business leaders need to understand the issues their organization faces and the most cost-effective ways to overcome them. For some businesses, hiring talented cloud-native developers may be the optimal solution. For others, retraining employees might lead to a faster rollout and more engaged staff that are less likely to jump ship after 12 months.


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