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Today’s global business landscape remains as competitive as ever and the need to deliver superior customer experiences remains a priority for organizations across all industries. To survive, many organizations are adopting cloud architectures and technologies to ensure applications meet the demands of modern consumers.
However, organizations often struggle to make a dent in their digital transformation efforts because they lack the technical capabilities required to implement and manage emerging cloud-based technologies. And unfortunately, the cloud skills shortage is a crucial issue without a near-term solution, despite the immediate need for companies to migrate to the cloud. According to a recent survey by Gartner, IT executives view the talent shortage as the leading barrier to adopting 64% of emerging technologies that enable innovation.
Indeed there is a push to correct the skills gap –– with academic institutions and large corporations training folks on the technical skills needed to fully leverage the cloud and reap the benefits of doing so. For instance, Google Cloud has committed to training more than 40 million people in modern cloud technologies. However, these training initiatives are long-term solutions that don’t help organizations today. For enterprises looking to continue their cloud journeys against the shortage of cloud expertise and increasingly complex and distributed cloud architectures, there are strategic steps they can take to bridge the widening gap.
Cloud-enabled business opportunities and the impact of delaying cloud adoption
Cloud allows organizations to future-proof their applications, optimize ROI and cultivate brand loyalty by ensuring low latency and service availability. Hybrid, multicloud and edge environments allow enterprises to move data and compute closer to where it is being used, enabling faster, smarter and more resilient applications. And customers expect their applications to be more secure, available and performant wherever they are located – –which is why the cloud and edge are so attractive to enterprises and why cloud deployments are a top priority for IT leaders (Gartner).
Cloud-based technologies that enable predictive analytics are critical as customer expectations of experience increase and data proliferates at its current rate (by 2029, 15B+ IoT devices will connect to enterprise databases). And since data and analytics are core differentiators, Gartner forecasts that 75% of all databases will be deployed or migrated to the cloud by the end of 2022. All of these activities require technical know-how to implement and maintain.
Given the skills shortage, many companies’ digital transformation projects are slowed down –– often coming to a complete halt. In fact, over the past year, hiring managers had openings for over 300,000 US-based devops roles. And organizations are struggling to recruit skilled professionals to fill these positions. Those that fail to adapt to the needs of our cloud-enabled world will miss out on opportunities to provide customers with new, innovative and dynamic online experiences – translating to missed ROI and new revenue streams.
Devops lead innovation, but are they equipped to handle the skills shortage?
We conducted a survey of digital architects and found that the pressure they face has more than doubled since the pandemic. Nearly half are currently under high or extremely high pressure to deliver on modernization projects.
Enterprise technology stacks are becoming so complex, and they’re ever-evolving as new technologies meant to speed up and simplify application development are introduced (e.g., microservices). Already spread thin, devops are having to adapt to the cloud-based needs of today’s businesses.
Until organizations are able to source adequately skilled professionals, devops will need to learn to manage, deploy and ensure interoperability between edge, container, AI, security and other technologies. It’s also important to note that they’ll need to understand when and how to refactor applications and manage multicloud technologies while knowing how to implement and manage applications deployed in the cloud versus on-premises (the skills differ immensely).
How enterprises can succeed against the cloud skills gap
Enterprises can power through their digital transformation journeys despite the dearth of cloud talent by considering technical solutions that simplify cloud migration and build upon existing skillsets, investing in employee training opportunities (without adding more work to their plates) and fostering a culture of transparency and collaboration.
First, new solutions must be simple and flexible enough to seamlessly adopt. For example, look for next-generation, cloud-based technologies (e.g., databases) that allow developers to use the languages, frameworks and technologies they already know how to use. This is important, given that many devops have skills rooted in legacy technologies and on-premise environments. An excellent way to ease their transition to the cloud is by investing in tools that require minimum upskilling. Technologies that enable devops to leverage languages already within the skill set of today’s developers, such as SQL, can make cloud adoption less daunting.
Next, organizations should train their employees on the skills needed to implement and sustain cloud migration – without adding additional stress/work to devops. Research conducted by The Linux Foundation found that over half of organizations prioritized investment in training and networking opportunities for employees, but with 66% of developers wanting more employer-sponsored training opportunities to help them succeed, it’ll be wise for more enterprises to invest further in training.
And finally, organizations should foster a culture of learning, collaboration and transparency to ensure employees feel comfortable sharing what’s working and what could be improved. For example, managers could promote this by initiating regular one-on-ones with team members to ensure their needs are being met, get feedback on current processes and better understand their workloads to avoid burnout.
While these suggestions may not yield immediate results, they can be implemented quickly in the short term.
Moving forward amid the cloud skills talent shortage
For many organizations, digital transformation is an existential imperative, and they must continue to progress in their cloud journeys despite the lack of cloud skills talent. And while there are macro efforts to address the skills gap, these efforts are often not helpful to enterprises in the near term. However, organizations can still succeed if they focus on adopting the right technologies, encouraging continuous training and promoting a culture that celebrates collaboration, honesty and transparency.
Rahul Pradhan is VP of cloud products, engineering and operations at Couchbase.