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Gimme Five: Bridging the Cloud Skills Gap With John Cole

Our engineers and solution architects are always on-the-go to meet with clients at the AHEAD Executive Briefing Center or speak at industry events, so their time is precious. Jenny Allen of AHEAD’s Marketing team snagged Solutions Principal John Cole on his way to grab coffee, armed with five questions on the pervasive cloud skills gap organizations are facing. Here’s his take in our newest series, “Gimme Five.”

1. What is the biggest concern you see within I.T. departments about their roles and cloud adoption?

“From a career perspective, the biggest concern we see within IT organizations is that the cloud is going to eliminate people’s jobs or that the cloud is going to replace people because the functions that they have will be replaced by the cloud provider. Instead, what we find, is that there’s actually as much—if not more—work to do in managing a cloud environment; it’s just that the work is different.”

2. Why do you believe some I.T. professionals could feel threatened or territorial when it comes to new technology like the cloud?

“I think it’s a fear of the unknown. For example, some people are looking at automation as something that could replace their role. Realistically, automation and cloud computing are simply replacing current, repetitive manual tasks. But you still need to have automation and cloud engineers that are curating the scripts, updating the automations, and managing the pools of resources as features, functions, and capacities morph, which should quell any fears.

3. How could this negative view of cloud adoption hamper digital transformation efforts within the organization?

“You end up with employees who are afraid for their jobs or who become territorial or protective of their position. Instead of spending their time learning automation and translating their current tasks into its cloud equivalence (and also at the same time increasing their skill set), you instead get people who are detracting from the cloud or delaying the cloud. And that has a net effect of impeding the businesses’ adoption of the cloud.”

4. How can you win over skeptics potentially impeding the cloud adoption process?

“Education is an easy one, but we find that effective communication and employee engagement is critical. It’s important to help people understand their role in a cloud operating model and understand the new and emerging skill sets that will be required to run the business in a single or multi-cloud environment. We also find that adopting cloud tenants or on-premises operations such as automation, orchestration, or DevOps skill sets, allows people a more comfortable adjacency to their current roles so they can start to learn some of these skill sets that will translate forward.”

5. Any final thoughts on getting buy-in from I.T. staff?

“We see a huge skills gap right now in cloud engineering, cloud operations, and cloud architects. So, there’s a tremendous need as the industry shifts more consumption to cloud for more and more qualified people to operate and manage it. I view the shift to cloud as a significant opportunity for people to increase or enhance their skill sets and provide career growth—rather than looking at it as a threat.”


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