Hybrid Cloud Talent: 7 In-Demand Skills Now

What do hybrid cloud pros need to get hired – and what should hiring managers prioritize? Check out this expert advice.

This post originally appeared on The Enterprisers Project.

As hybrid cloud‘s popularity grows, so does the need for IT pros who can effectively design, implement, and optimize this modern approach to computing.

As the term hybrid suggests, cloud computing now requires a mix of hands-on skills. And all the cloud certifications in the world probably won’t make you a hybrid cloud expert if you’ve never had to deal with on-premises infrastructure. (Here’s a primer on hybrid cloudfor additional context.)

Think of your hybrid cloud career development – or from the leadership perspective, your hybrid cloud talent – in terms of specific skills rather than particular job titles. Whereas related areas like DevOps have become popular job titles unto themselves, that’s not necessarily true for “hybrid cloud” – the latter spans and intersects with a wide range of roles in IT.

By most yardsticks, hybrid is the future of IT. In fact, research firm 451 Research said just that in describing the results of a recent cloud survey: “The future of IT is multi-cloud and hybrid with 69 percent of respondents planning to have some type of multi-cloud environment by 2019.”

That translates to growing competition for talent: “Hybrid cloud talent in general is in high demand,” Blake Angove, director of technology services at staffing and recruiting firm LaSalle Network

We asked Angove and other experts for their input on the most wanted hybrid cloud skills. Savvy IT pros, though, don’t just chase a hot trend – instead, they invest in skills likely to future-proof their resumes. So we also asked our experts to highlight the skills likely to either have staying power or to appear on hiring managers’ future wish lists. Here’s what they had to say (in no particular order.)

1. Automation, configuration management, and infrastructure as code

Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments introduce new operational considerations and complexity, almost by definition. Automation is a key part of most successful strategies for achieving the goals and benefits of hybrid cloud while mitigating that complexity; it could be thought of as an umbrella for more specific needs, such as scripting and automation of your application configurations or your various infrastructure environments.

“Automation at all layers is key,” says Lee Whalen, principal at Fuzzy Logic.

In that vein, experience with configuration management tools is commonly sought-after in hybrid cloud environments.

“We still see a considerable amount of demand for configuration management skills,” says Michael Kowal, cloud practice leader at AHEAD, noting that these tools and skills address both on-premises and off-premises consumption models.

In general, scripting and coding skills play an increasing role in hybrid cloud data centers, as infrastructure itself has become far more programmable – giving rise to the term and practice of “infrastructure as code” (or “data center as code,” in some contexts.)

“Cloud-based data centers – public, private or hybrid – are quickly becoming data centers-as-code, and, as such, the ability to create infrastructure templates, management scripts, and infrastructure pipelines are all very important,” says Chris Hansen, cloud practice lead at SPR.

2. Source control management

Hansen adds that all of this code this creates a related need: The ability to effectively and efficiently manage source (or version) control.

“Understanding how to manage these artifacts and store/version them properly in source control is critical,” he says.

3. Experience with multiple environment types

As we noted at the outset, the term “hybrid” itself says something about the required skills: You’ll need to develop skills and experience with multiple environment types, including traditional physical infrastructure.

Chris Gutierrez, director of cloud engineering at OneNeck IT Solutions, notes that core IT skills around compute, networking, storage, and security are still very relevant in the cloud era. But there’s a rub for IT pros and hiring managers alike.

“The ability to leverage these skills in the cloud and on-premises is the tricky part,” Gutierrez says.

If you’re coming from a traditional infrastructure background, that likely means investing in training and experience with one or more cloud platforms.

“Professionals with hands-on, hyperscale cloud architecture experience are in demand,” says Todd Loeppke, lead CTO architect at Sungard AS.

On the flip side, if you see yourself as a “cloud native,” you might have some catching up to do on traditional, physical infrastructure skills that typically remain relevant in hybrid cloud environments.

“Having experience with physical infrastructure architecture needs like PXE-boot, large-scale DHCP, dynamically-updated DNS, IPAM software, et cetera, are all going to be helpful,” says Whalen of Fuzzy Logic.

In fact, Whalen throws a curveball at the conventional thinking around the IT skills shortage.

“A lot of the ‘old school’ skills around physical hardware provisioning and inventory/lifecycle management are even harder – [meaning] more expensive – to find than your standard experienced DevOps engineer [or] Site Reliability Engineer,” he says.

4. Workload suitability evaluation

Gutierrez points to a related trait that too often gets overlooked, and can help different a hybrid cloud all-star: Properly matching the right workloads to the right environment.

It’s a good thing to have experience with multiple environment types. It’s far better when you understand the optimal use cases of those different environments.

“The ability to recognize when a platform should be in the cloud or on a traditional stack is also important,” Gutierrez says.

5. Security, audit, and compliance

From a recruiting and hiring perspective, longstanding IT security needs are just as necessary – if not more so – in hybrid cloud settings, Angove notes.

“Companies need people who are able to put the right protocols in place for the hybrid cloud environment to make sure anyone connecting to or working within the cloud are following the compliance rules of the organization,” Angove says. “With security being a top concern for most organizations these days, they’re looking for people that can help ensure the hybrid cloud is secure, too.”

6. Database management

Angove also says cloud-oriented database chops are highly sought-after: “Database management skills – being able to work with data and understand cloud-based data warehouses such as NoSQL – are in high demand right now.”

7. An eye on the (near) future: Containers, microservices, and more

Loeppke of Sungard AS rattles off several growing and emerging areas to keep in mind in terms of forward-thinking career development:

Building skills and experience in any of these areas (or some combination thereof) is likely a good bet in terms of hybrid cloud environments for the foreseeable future.

Bonus skill: Articulating how hybrid cloud drives business goals

Want to really stand out from other hybrid cloud pros? There’s a non-technical attribute that will help you do just that: Develop a deep understanding of the why behind hybrid cloud, and being able to translate and communicate that widely in your organization.

It was one of the recurring traits mentioned by our experts, right alongside any of the technical skills.

“Hybrid cloud has a lot of visibility in businesses right now, so professionals in this area should have strong communication skills to be able to explain the business value of hybrid cloud and any process improvements that have come as a result of moving to a hybrid cloud environment,” Angove says.

It’s a timeless skill that will never go out of style.

“Learning the new tech on platforms is important, but being able to articulate back to the business why those platforms are valuable beyond just the tech is what will ‘future-proof’ any career moving forward,” Kowal says.