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Upskill, Reskill or Cross-skill to Enable Your IT Workforce for the Cloud

Brian Carlson | Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Upskill, Reskill or Cross-skill to Enable Your IT Workforce for the Cloud

Cloud adoption is growing worldwide, and end-user spending on public cloud services is expected to increase by more than 20% in 2022, according to Gartner. Information technology organizations are turning to cloud services to drive specific, desired business outcomes. However, many organizations have identified significant skills gaps in the existing IT workforce in preparation for adopting cloud computing.

Enterprises transition to cloud computing for many reasons. The growing acceptance of remote/hybrid work in various business sectors has led many companies to adopt a hybrid or multi-cloud environment to connect employees no matter where they work. Companies are moving to the cloud for improved agility, collaboration, and innovation without needing to rely entirely on on-premise solutions.

As your business transitions to the cloud, it’s critical to align IT workforce skills with the cloud operating model. The cloud transition is not just a change in technology. It’s a total business transformation that changes how IT teams are structured, how they write software, and how they work together internally and across the enterprise to deliver products. IT teams must be prepared to work with new technologies and in new organizational models built on cross-functional collaboration.

Given the competition for IT professionals, it's often more cost-effective to provide training for employees than to hire new talent as the pace of technology changes quickly and existing employees already have a good amount of IT knowledge. Hiring new talent could be most costly than you expected. Demand for IT professionals with expertise in cloud applications, data management and analytics led the average technology salary to rise almost 7% between 2020 and 2021, up to $104,466, according to the 2022 Dice Tech Salary Report.

Skills gaps needed for the cloud can be addressed through upskilling, reskilling or cross-skill learning for existing workers. More than half of HR leaders plan to provide employees with upskilling (59%) and reskilling (55%) training in 2022, according to the 2022 State of L&D.

Upskill

Add skills that enhance a person's performance in their current role and position them to assume additional responsibilities, such as a project or department manager. An IT worker could learn new software or programming skills that supplement their current knowledge and experience. 

Reskill

Help employees prepare for new roles or significant changes in their current ones. A data analyst could move up to higher-level programming or cybersecurity duties.

Cross Skill

Learn new skills to assume additional tasks related to a role within an employee's group or department to ensure business continuity. For example, DevOps can learn to deploy code to production as part of a cross-functional team.

For the IT workforce, cloud adoption is not a single event; instead, it will require ongoing learning and development to keep pace with emerging technology and the fast-changing tech landscape.

In-Demand Skills for the Cloud Computing Transition

While IT workers can be trained to use many cloud tools without earning a certification, certifications are valued by employees and hiring managers. Employer-provided upskilling is important when workers evaluate a new job, according to Gallup research. According to 91% of employers in a CompTIA study, certifications play a crucial role in the hiring process. 

 Certifications are offered through the vendors themselves, but open source technologies are provided by third-party organizations. For example, the official Kubernetes Certified Administrator (CKA) exam is offered by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, and the Docker Certified Associate exam is administered by Mirantis.

While dozens of certifications are available for cloud technologies, a few are among the most valued due to marketplace demand. See our list of Top Cloud Certifications for Cloud Professionals.

The Cloud Consists of Various Segments

The cloud ecosystem consists of disparate parts that offer a variety of solutions that help you expand your capabilities to reduce manual labor and deploy and update applications quickly. With legacy applications, it could take six months or more to deploy a new application while a native cloud application could be deployed in days or weeks, When updates were needed to be made to legacy applications, they needed to be taken offline. But by using various cloud technologies, the application can remain online even as IT teams make repairs or update. 

Some legacy IT skills probably in use in your company now, such as Git, SAP and Python, are transferrable to the cloud ecosystem. However, new skills need to be learned to create cloud native applications — which provide elasticity, scalability and reliability — and automated testing systems. To help organizations chart their learning and development (L&D) strategies, ExitCertified created the CloudCentrix model, which provides a centralized view of the various segments of the cloud ecosystem.

The CloudCentrix model includes the following eight segments:

  1. Public Cloud: Engage the largest cloud providers for scale and agility — AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, Oracle.
  2. Private & Hybrid Cloud: Rely on private cloud infrastructure in addition to the public cloud — Veeam, Nutanix, VMWare, IBM Cloud.
  3. Containers & Cloud Native: Use cloud native tools to run applications — Kubernetes, Microservices, Docker.
  4. Programming: Use popular languages and tools to develop cloud native applications  — Python, Microsoft.NET, Selenium, Spring, Kafka.
  5. Automation: Reduce or eliminate manual efforts to provision and manage cloud services and workloads — Ansible, Terraform, Puppet.
  6. Cloud Security: Secure data in public and private clouds — Obtain your CCSP or CISSP certification to secure your cloud environments.
  7. Agile & DevOps: Plan and manage software projects — GitHub, Scrum, Kanban, Agile, DevOps.
  8. Analytics: Extract and visualize information from massive data sets — Databricks, Snowflake, Tableau, Spark.

To enjoy the full benefits of the cloud, IT pros must learn how to use and integrate the various segments of cloud computing. Adding these skills through L&D opportunities is critical for the success of your cloud initiatives, but it’s a daunting task for any company as there are so many technologies to learn about, all from various vendors and sources.

Large vendors provide training and support for their own technologies, but small vendors and open-source collectives may offer little to no training. Some training and certifications for vendor technologies are available directly from the solution providers or a certified training partner. But finding reliable training for open sources technologies can be difficult as there is no “vendor-authorized training” because there is no vendor. However, for open source technologies like Kubernetes, Python, AI/ML, and Docker, training is available from reputable outside sources. The trick is knowing which training providers are best for each open source technology.

The best way to be sure you’re getting the best training from the best sources is to work with a top IT training company, which should have already vetted all the well-known open source course creators and have partnered with them to teach their courses. The training company should also be partnered with the top vendors to teach their vendor-authorized courses. This ensures that you get the best possible training courses and simplifies the administrative and training process for you and your company. Plus, for courses that are taught remotely, an outside IT training company can follow up with students prior to course commencement to confirm that they have tested their connection to the training remote system and it works.

As an experienced provider of instructor-led and online training, ExitCertified is the onramp for learning and development for the cloud. Pursuing L&D with individual providers in an ad-hoc way is inefficient in terms of time and resources and leads to ineffective results. A knowledgeable instructional provider can develop a focused, cumulative learning path that builds the necessary skills and knowledge for employees to be successful in their new roles.

It's critical to begin with an assessment of existing skills and develop a comprehensive training plan. The ExitCertified process uncovers your requirements and skills gaps to create a comprehensive training program as part of your organization's IT strategy. The goal is to offer a path toward familiarization before expecting employees to change the tools, technologies and practices they use daily. The initial engagement phase can include complimentary learning assessments to identify skills gaps and training needs. ExitCertified offers training for any IT role, including architects, developers, deployment specialists and operations professionals.

Based on the assessment, business needs and their existing skillset, employees may be on individual paths of upskilling, reskilling or cross-skilling. Training can be offered via the most effective methodology for the business and individuals. Often a blend of instructor-led and self-paced training is a realistic option that accommodates busy schedules and learning styles.

Organizations that embark on a cloud transformation must understand they have signed up for an ongoing process. Transformation requires continuous learning and development to prepare IT workers for the ongoing evolution of the cloud.

As learning and development become a competitive differentiator in the workplace, organizations must consider it a part of the culture. Employees have more options for where they choose to work. Investing in L&D is a powerful way to set your organization above the rest.

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