Insights from Cloud Expo – do we have the talent to make the future?

Cloud Expo is a place to learn, connect and investigate the future together. Here’s a dispatch from the panels I contributed to, plus other insights seen and heard at Cloud Expo where it seemed the unifying theme was the worsening cloud skills gap.

Disrupted vs disruptors

The future is owned by the new kids on the block. Or is it?

Disruption is now a constant in most industries. Bigger businesses are losing money because smaller, more agile, cloud-native challengers are zeroing in on individual elements of their offer and doing it better. These nimble companies build fast and change faster, responding more rapidly to what customers want.

Enterprises know they must react, but sometimes it proves difficult to transform legacy systems and tackle the technical debt to compete with disrupters. The answer for some in the financial sector facing constant fintech challengers is to build new arms. These totally separate business units are being created around new leaders capable of running more reactive, cloud-first, start-up-style operations alongside the mature parent.

This is one way ‘disrupted’ businesses are acknowledging they need engineers and architects who simply don’t want to work for them. It’s a theme that emerged from our cost of expertise research with LSE. IT leaders identified their sectors not being ‘sexy’ enough as one of the factors hampering their ability to attract top tech talent. And, as I heard one Cloud Expo delegate say, “Skilled people don’t want to come to work in a suit and tie.”

The millennials coming through are probably the talent you want, but they often have very different expectations and mindsets that don’t always fit established traditional businesses.

It will be a big shift in corporate expectations, but for some organisations, closing the talent gap has to involve either creating a new culture, a new arm, or partnering with a managed service provider. It’s recognised the alternative is to just muddle through using contractors whose time is 100% used, so there’s no time to train and keep up-to-date with emerging technologies.

Orchestration and cloud deployment

Containers and serverless technologies were also a very popular topic. There was lots of discussion around incorporating containers on your cloud journey, helping users to get away from data centres, modernise apps and help customers.

Orchestration is the next iteration of containers with platforms that automate deployment, scaling and managing containerised applications. It’s clear Kubernetes is leading the way here with its ability to run an application on any cloud, including Private Clouds, AWS, Azure and Google Cloud Platform, making it easier to migrate from one cloud vendor to another.

Again, containerisation conversations came back to expertise. Just who is going to do this for the business and how will IT leaders educate themselves? Particularly given how containerisation is something you probably want to do before moving to the cloud, using their portability to manage the risk of migration.

Avoiding migration scar tissue

In another panel session on what to expect from enterprise cloud deployment, we looked at what businesses can take and lose from cloud revolution. We were quickly back to expertise here too.

The consensus was that it’s hard to set up apps and migrate to cloud, and it’s difficult to work out which cloud is best for individual businesses if you’re not doing this day-in, day-out.

So, if you’re doing this first time, leaning on a partner whose done this before has to make sense. Access to certified architects can enable you to really leverage deep expertise, to the advantage of your business.

Visions of the future

Finally, a word on emerging technologies at Cloud Expo.

AI was an ongoing theme. This is perhaps unsurprising given how Gartner estimates that only 5% of all large enterprises are currently combining big data and machine learning for IT operations, but with the expectation that this will jump to 40% by 2022.

The stance businesses take now will determine how quickly they can improve and innovate in the future. Get the ball rolling by answering the easier questions, such as:

  • Have you structured your data in a business-case format, to build new services customers want?
  • Do you have a data strategy around customer experience?
  • How are you improving the customer experience around this data?

Achieving success in today’s digital age means keeping up, but more importantly it means getting the right expertise to optimise your strengths and improve your tech weaknesses.

Our recent survey of enterprise IT decision makers revealed that business need help with migration to the cloud. Read the full blog to find out how you can overcome your challenges.

Build your cloud environment by assessing business needs and be sure to incorporate security within that strategy. Get one step ahead and let us know how we can help your infrastructure thrive.

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Simon is an executive leader of the Global Solutions and Services team for Rackspace EMEA. His passion is helping businesses formulate the most prudent technology strategies for their most critical pain-points, including agility, time-to-market, cost-efficiency, stability and the re-focusing of resources towards greater innovation and business alignment. As Director of GSS, Simon owns the strategy, vision, GTM, revenue targets and P&L for EMEA — including Professional Services, all levels of solution architecture and security. His team is responsible for providing solutions and services across multi-cloud technologies including VMware, AWS, Microsoft and Openstack, as well as covering security and big data. Simon and his team build enablement and solve business challenges for customers by focussing on every stage of the technology adoption lifecycle. As an exec at Rackspace, Simon advises various customer boards and C-Levels through one-to-one meetings, hosted roundtable discussions, panel debates and events on business change. Simon has 19 years of experience developing and leading world-class product and transformational change for FTSE 200 companies. This includes helping to pioneer DevOps automation, IT governance, big data, information security, and holistic IT systems design. His core expertise is in the leadership and development of cross-industry technologies. He engages with key technology partners like Cisco, F5, Dell, HP, NetApp, EMC, AWS, Microsoft, Oracle, CA, Magento, Akamai and Accenture to drive revenue and expand capabilities.

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