The specific skill cloud engineers need to be successful

Matthew Smith, Head of DevOps & Cloud at Ten10, discusses the shortage of cloud engineering talent and suggests solutions for addressing it.

Whether the average person knows about it or not, they likely have interacted with the cloud in some capacity. Just take in some of these stats: 2.3 billion people use personal cloud storage, 60% of the world’s corporate data is stored in the cloud, and 3% of the world’s energy consumption is consequent to the cloud.

The increased importance and dependence on the cloud should not come as a surprise, especially as the world increasingly becomes more contactless.

Where previously, there might not have been so much importance placed on how data was leveraged and used in the cloud, this is no longer the case.

Now, what cloud infrastructure decision-makers decide to purchase to leverage and store data could be the difference between money being well spent or not.

However, the shift to cloud computing has come slap bang in the middle of a global IT skills gap. In the UK alone, 95% of organisations across all sectors have stated that the current cloud skills gap has negatively impacted their organisation.

Inevitably, organisations are looking to recruit the right cloud engineers to help them not only operate but also maximise the use of the cloud. But in doing so, organisations must ensure that the cloud engineers that they look to recruit have the necessary skills and expertise.

So, the question remains: what skills make a good cloud engineer in today’s day and age?

A good understanding of the basics

It might be a bit off the mark to say that there are set specific skills that will be essential in leveraging the cloud, regardless of advancements.

Cloud engineers today need a wide range of skills to excel in the role that they are recruited for.

Whether that be designing, implementing, and managing cloud-based solutions.

Proficiency in the cloud platform that your business uses is also essential. There’s little point in hiring a cloud engineer who is only proficient in using one particular cloud platform. The more comfortable a cloud engineer is with different cloud platforms, the better.

In today’s world, employees need to understand different operating systems, networking, security, and software engineering.

Once the basics of these skills have been developed, cloud engineers can confidently address specifics within cloud computing, such as configuration management and Cloud CI/CD. Continuously being willing to learn the details and intricacies of cloud computing is also key, of course.

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Cloud engineers should understand different software deployments

Though the skills mentioned above are essential for all cloud engineers, the ability to understand different software deployments is also important.

Technologies like containerisation, knowledge of cloud networking, security best practices, and knowledge of DevOps and how it integrates and automates the work of software development and IT operations are imperative, especially given the increased amount of data that organisations now have to manage.

The importance of communication and collaboration

In the same way that having technological skills is essential to being a good cloud engineer, organisations need to ensure that the engineer that they look to recruit has the right soft skills for today’s day and age.

Soft skills such as clear communication, and the ability to collaborate with colleagues are imperative.

Employees need to be passionate about continuous learning and willing to dig deep when solving technical problems. Accepting that there is a problem for today’s cloud engineers is no longer enough.

There must also be a desire to understand why something is not working rather than just fixing it. At the same time, cloud engineers need to be flexible and agile in their ability to learn new technologies, both directly related to the cloud and other technologies or practices used by organisations.

Why is there a shortage of cloud engineering talent?

There is no one specific cause for the scarcity of cloud engineering talent. Rather, you could argue that there are several.

However, one of the major factors that have led to the current lack of cloud engineers is the rapid expansion of cloud computing. The drastic expansion of cloud computing has created a high demand for skilled professionals who can design, implement, and manage cloud-based solutions effectively.

Unfortunately, for organisations and cloud engineers alike, the constant complexity of cloud technologies and the evolution of cloud platforms make it harder for cloud engineers to have all the necessary expertise. This, in turn, makes it harder for organisations to find the perfect all-knowing cloud engineer.

Where it wasn’t previously, studies have shown that 80% of organisations post-pandemic think that digital transformation is now a priority. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation efforts for many organisations, amplifying the need for cloud engineers’ expertise.

Consequently, competition to attract and retain cloud engineers is at an all-time high. According to a global report published last year, cloud engineers were the most in-demand tech job for businesses, with 65% of job postings for them, making them the third most in-demand job last year.

With advancements in cloud technology, more people now possess cloud engineering skills.

However, this has led to businesses running increasingly complex workloads, exacerbating the shortage of professionals with essential networking skills. While technology has streamlined some tasks, challenges persist due to the demand for diverse expertise.

The dependence and use of cloud computing do not seem to be stopping anytime soon, which in turn means the necessity for cloud engineers is only increasing. But just like with resources, there aren’t currently going to be enough cloud engineers available for all.

Addressing the shortage whilst creating the solution

Lacking cloud engineering talent in today’s increasingly digitalised world is not an option. To do this would be equivalent to forgoing your organisation’s ability to be able to operate effectively with the data that they currently have and will have in the future. Eventually, a decision as such will affect the organisation’s bottom line.

Organisations could address this shortage by investing in and looking to tech consultants and academies that are cultivating the next generation of cloud talent. When doing so, the consultancy/academy that they are looking to work with must provide high-calibre tech talent that is diverse and has the right soft skills as well as technical knowledge.

Companies, regardless of their sector, should actively pursue the right cloud engineer for them. Taking a ‘going and getting them approach’ in which companies grow the cloud engineers they desire could be the difference between them falling foul of the cloud skills gap or not.

This approach, when working with qualified consultants, is not only cost-efficient but also effective. Using this hybrid model, where the company develops and grows talent while an external consultancy ensures that the perspective cloud engineers have the technological and soft skills support, is the way to go.

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