Cloud is clearly a massive driver of the new tech economy – be it SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, Public, Private or Hybrid clouds, E-Commerce, IOT (Internet of Things), Big Data or some iteration that at the back of it is supported by cloud technologies. Technology is both enhancing and reducing in cost at such a speed that it is no longer the entitlement of only the large firms. The cloud can empower any organisation from small to large, from start-up to Enterprise, to revolutionise their customer offering.
With this speed of change comes a need for those supporting the business to adapt quickly and adopt new methodologies, knowledge and skills to empower a company to take advantage of these new possibilities. Many times it means switching from Waterfall to Agile, from networking to virtualisation through Docker, from hosting to IaaS & PaaS and from C, through Java into Swift, Hack and Dart. But it can be more fundamental as well.
A wide range of firms still rely on traditional IT infrastructure (locally deployed server applications and databases) despite the increasing rapid rate of cloud migration, especially in the Enterprise. Digital transformation is on the Enterprise agenda, but organisations are underestimating the requirements to smartly and fully implement these changes and need the right partners to help implement and optimize their performance as they navigate a hybrid cloud setup.
Change is hard to accept at the best of times, particularly if you have previously been the subject expert on a vendor or technology for a long period. To find that history of expertise is being disrupted at pace and your worth is diminishing, either in your own firm or to the general market can be challenging. Being prepared to let go of many years of acquired skills and accept the need to re-start and learn a whole range of new skills is hard to accept and many will resist – but this presents a serious opportunity for those willing to invest in the right skill sets.
For companies moving applications and services to cloud platforms, migration challenges are one of the top constraints affecting IT, as there are no automated switchovers on offer and customised internal or external migrations vary from mild to heavy development changes. For example, migrating a home grown or proprietary application requires new application development and testing. However, if taken on with commitment, the move can provide faster more agile application development through devops and utilisation of enhanced cloud features and API’s leading to improved application lifecycle management.
With the plethora of changes from new coded applications and architectures holding vast data stores in the cloud, the need for greater cyber security expertise is an essential requirement. And the human element is recognised as the most vulnerable area of security, with the introduction of so many new skill areas that may introduce increased risk of new security exposures. Software developers in cloud must understand and treat with extreme caution the need for increased responsibility of security assurance and compliance. With the heightened awareness of security threats and breaches and the introduction of the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in Europe with far heftier and damaging fines, getting this wrong is now going to be catastrophic. It is estimated that less than 5% of cloud applications are ready for GDPR, leading to a vast breadth of enhancement in a very short period.
The perfect storm circling this comes from the expectation that 30-40% of the corporate workforce will retire in the next decade, combined with a reduction in those studying relevant ICT subjects and the reduction in educations capability to provide effective education in the required areas. We have a rapidly increasing need for new technology skills (to both support new technologies and to support digital transformation from old to new) and a big percentage of those with technology backgrounds retiring rather than reskilling, is compounded by a reduction in educations capability to attract and educate to the level of need required.
Cloud continues to enhance quickly and even those in cloud a decade ago are finding they are needing to continue to learn new skills, such as the usage surge in containers, for which a Robin Systems Survey recently cited that 81 percent of organisations are planning to increase their use. Companies – especially Enterprise – must have access to the skills required to be able to employ the full scope of new tech on offer to their business advantage.
Unless the issue is addressed quickly, we may expect ‘Supply & Demand’ for these new skills is going to simultaneously implode and explode, creating a chasm between need and affordability, as those who can do become scarce and valuable commodities, available to the few who can afford.