Getting past the cloud skills blame game

Whose fault is it you can’t find the right cloud expertise? Your HR director for capping salaries low? Your sector for not being ‘sexy’ enough? Or is it your older tech that’s putting strong candidates off? These are all perfectly valid factors pointed out by IT decision-makers polled ahead of our recent webinar with Computing on stopping the cloud skills gap becoming a crisis.

Playing the cloud skills blame game is easy, finding the fix, much less so. That’s why a few of us got our heads together at the webinar. If you were there, I hope we helped with your roadmap. If you didn’t make it, here’s a bit of a taster.

You’re not alone

Let’s pause briefly to put whatever situation you’re facing in perspective.

Our pre-webinar poll also showed 70% of IT leaders are facing a shortfall of technical skills, with the biggest shortages being in technical security expertise. Troubling stuff.

Of course, your worries aren’t over if you successfully recruit. Top talent moves on fast – if you get 18 months from someone, you probably feel you’re winning. When cloud talent goes, you know you have to move quickly to replace it. As our recent London School of Economics research, showed, 71% of IT decision-makers believe their organisations have lost revenue due to a lack of cloud expertise.

So now you know you’re not alone in this, let’s talk about how to put your business in the 29% who don’t think a lack of cloud talent is costing them money.

Whose team are you on?

With the market so competitive and the skills themselves so varied, lots of firms will need outside help. And before I lose you because you’re thinking, ‘This is the bit where the guy from the managed service provider tells you to outsource,’ allow me to bring you back in by saying there’s a bit more to it than that.

Yes, there are good reasons to work with a provider with the scale to protect you from falling down the talent gap, but you can’t outsource the entire challenge of running cloud-first strategies. Some of the answers lie within.

Our poll revealed it’s mostly IT directors or CIOs in charge of cloud strategy. Why?

When the whole organisation is deploying new apps and services in the cloud, shouldn’t the responsibility be shared more widely and reflected in the way everyone sets their teams up? It could be, for example, you need to disband the ‘IT team’ and locate IT professionals in teams across business units. This could both share the recruitment responsibility for cloud talent and make you more dynamic and attractive as an employer.

If you do get outside help, why not mix external cloud talent with your own teams? Let them sit together; build, learn and create together. That’s how we do it with Metro Bank

And while the stats on improved performance are great, so is the feedback that our people feel like their people because of how we work with them.

The latest model

If you’re working with an outside provider, looking to the Platform as a Service (PaaS) model could help address expertise gaps in development.

Developers have traditionally leveraged on-site infrastructure components – servers, storage, networking – to design and deploy applications. PaaS recreates this infrastructure in the cloud, allowing developers to engineer both simple and highly complex applications on a pay-as-you-go basis. PaaS providers also offer resources like development tools, libraries and database management systems, so developers don’t have to worry about infrastructure logistics.

The upshot of all this is you can build new development capabilities without hiring new staff. Perhaps that’s why the model is growing faster than the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) models, with around three quarters (73%) in our poll saying they were either considering PaaS, or at some point in trial, test or production.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst

It’s not what you want to hear, but with the rise of IoT and artificial intelligence, finding skilled and experienced people is only going to get harder.

Whether your strategy is about amazing benefits, a PR-drive to change perceptions of your sector, organisational change, or working with a service provider using PaaS or another model, the point is, you need a cloud talent strategy. Devising it starts by understanding the demand coming from different business units, which makes the cloud talent conversation one for the whole organisation, not just the IT team.

Check out the webinar recording for practical ideas to shape your strategy, or take a look at the Cost of Expertise report for some eye-opening comments from senior IT leaders on what they’re doing to find and keep top talent.

We’re always here to listen to your talent conundrums. Feel free to drop us a line if you need a sounding board.

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Before joining Rackspace as EMEA Chief Technology Officer, Lee gathered his experience developing and delivering industry leading cloud, analytics and SAP services for global organisations, culminating in an innovation award for building BP’s first multi-cloud platform. As part of the Betfair team he was responsible for the delivery of a Devops driven platform that performed more transactions than all the European stock markets each day. Lee recently moved into IT services and using his experience he has delivered global cloud transformations, advanced analytics platforms and cloud inspired organisational transformation for a number of major organisations. At Rackspace, Lee is responsible for helping our customers maximise their cloud investments across people, process and technology as well developing new Rackspace products and services. Lee is a proud father of four, and you may well find him managing an under 12 football team, striking a golf ball in random directions and partaking in Rugby League matches.


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