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Thursday, 19 November 2015 17:39

Essential skills for cloud computing people

Posted By  Campbell Williams

Campbell Williams of Six Degrees Group outlines the four essential cloud skills you need to effectively deliver cloud into the business

Cloud computing is changing the modern workplace. Whether it’s how we invest in technology, the way we access the digital services we need, or a more fundamental shift in how businesses plan for their IT needs, the cloud is having an enormous impact that only seems certain to grow.

It’s also changing the skills and experience IT people need – there is a new demand for “cloud experts” who are less geared towards the problem-solving, deep technical approach of their ‘traditional’ IT counterparts, and instead are specifically focused on getting the most out of cloud technology for business impact.

So, as businesses shift from the hype of cloud adoption to the reality of maximising return on investment, these new ‘cloud people’ need to focus on a number of core skills:

Focused technology expertise

While there is a great deal that cloud technology shares with traditional IT, there is now an entire industry geared towards delivering cloud services and technology.  As a result, cloud people are building their experience within these emerging areas, and businesses are hiring against specific cloud roles and platforms, such as Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure.

Larger organisations are also beginning to recruit in-house specialists for these (and other) platforms, because cloud technology has become such an embedded part of their business. Cloud computing skills are becoming important across the technology landscape, but for those businesses with a more fundamental investment in cloud, focused cloud technology expertise is becoming a ‘must-have’.

Resource planning skills

Cloud has driven a fundamental shift in the way businesses invest in IT.  The scalability, speed and agility which it delivers means that cloud people need to be able to identify and deliver the resources their organisation needs – often on demand.

This begins with delivering a well-planned cloud strategy, but also requires a detailed appreciation of how and when cloud resources need to be dynamically allocated.  Delivering a cloud infrastructure which can scale up and down according to demand is vital in today’s digital environment where any problems with online service levels can quickly hit the headlines and turn into real financial headaches.

Businesses are still being caught out because their resource planning is inadequate, and a sudden upsurge in customer interest and demand overwhelms their infrastructure (whether they are cloud users or not).

Supplier management skills

The most effective cloud customer/supplier relationships are closely integrated, and cloud people must be proficient in managing suppliers on a day-to-day basis.  This begins with the ability to select the right supplier in what is becoming an increasingly competitive market.

They need to understand the capabilities and limitations of their service and infrastructure partners, and develop strong relationships which are flexible enough to deliver in unexpected circumstances.

Successful outsourcing relationships are not just about handing over responsibilities to a third party, and assuming the job is done.  They work far more effectively when supplier and customer have strong communication channels in place, understand the full parameters of their relationship and work together to deliver an effective strategy.

Business crossover skills

Businesses are changing the job descriptions for their IT leaders – a trend enabled and driven by the wide adoption of cloud technology.  For many, skills which cross the traditional divide between IT and the broader business as a whole are now vital.  IT leaders now need to be able to manage suppliers, business outcomes and SLAs, not just IT. Some organisations are so committed to the benefits of this approach that they are prioritising business acumen over IT knowledge, directing their IT leaders to work with partners who can handle technology provision and service, while they focus on business objectives enabled by cloud technology.

This type of cloud person needs to deliver technology solutions and services which can help their business move forward as quickly as possible.  It’s a trend seen particularly within the start-up community, where the benefit of cloud not only comes from its investment profile (less capital expenditure, for example), which is often more attractive for investors, but also in its ability to quickly scale as the business grows.

Cloud computing people are making an increasing impact across business and technology disciplines, and as the cloud market matures, this kind of skillset will only increase in importance.  These developments are still in their early stages, but it’s likely that within a few years the profile of leading cloud computing people will have grown significantly to match the growing importance of their role.

About the author

Campbell Williams is Group Strategy & Marketing Director at Six Degrees Group and is an industry veteran and a well-known figure in the industry. He has travelled the world as a presenter and subject-matter expert in a variety of technology fields, including twice addressing global United Nations conferences.

At Six Degrees he is responsible for channel strategy, product strategy, go-to-market messaging, proposition and solution development, public relations and branding matters. 

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