It’s that time of year again when everyone is being asked to look into their crystal ball and predict what 2017 is going to hold in the Cloud World.

I have been reading and listening to Podcasts, of all sorts. Positives and negatives for increased Cloud Adoption, both Public and Private in 2017. People are discussing Security Hacks, and availability, although I’m not sure why? I’m also hearing a lot about how this is the year of major cloud transformations, and massive workload migration, involving wholesale closure of Data Centers, and a massive increase in Public Cloud adoption. However I’m hearing very little about how this is all going to happen.

Over the last few months my conversations with Executives, and more so with Senior Managers has been focused on how not what. Every organization (well almost every one) has some sort of cloud initiatives underway, generally there is less confusion about what “the cloud” is, although not everyone has a consensus on how it can be effectively used in an organization, these cloud initiatives underway are in many forms and at many stages. Some may have been successful, some semi, some have been dismal failures, but most have at least shown the possibilities and promises of the cloud, leading to more long-term strategies and thinking.

So now these folks have the ‘what’ better defined, the question is ‘how’?  There is a definite gap here in terms of how to build out cloud systems.  Questions I’m hearing:

  • What should we use where?
  • How should it be laid out?
  • Should we use Public PaaS? – What about Vendor lock-in?
  • What Security is needed? Access, EndPoint, Compliance, Governance.
  • How do we build WAN? What about Bandwidth, Latency?
  • What about Software defined? Networks, Firewall, Loadbalancers, Storage
  • How do we design Backup, DR, High Availability?
  • Do we need Elasticity?
  • Everything as a Service?
  • How about Workload Migration, Re-factoring, Re-engineering?
  • Do we build Cloud Native, Cloud Aware?
  • How do we deal with Containers, Management, Deployment, Maintenance?
  • What about DevOps CI/CD?

Lots of good questions, but the biggest question, and the ‘Elephant in the Room’ is how and where do we find the people to do this? We know we have a massive Skills Gap! What skills are needed? Can we re-train? How do roles and responsibilities change. What is the Organizational structure needed to make this work?

It seems that those of us who have successfully addressed many of this issues and built out stable, secure, operational, cloud systems are suddenly very much in demand, but why is there such a skills gap?

My take is that too many people are not ready to change and grow; they see this whole cloud thing as a threat and are not yet ready to embrace it. It also quickly crumbles the old boundaries of infrastructure, no longer is the Storage, Network, or Compute expert needed. Those skills are being superseded by a pervasive all-encompassing operational management skill. Infrastructure architects are we know them will be required to change their role, enterprise architects will be less technical and more business focused. The blur between developers and operational needs are now a reality. Performance is no longer an infrastructure problem. Monitoring and management of an entire system can be done by a lower level technician from a single pane of glass.

This issue permeates from the top down as well as the bottom up; the CIO role will morph into the COO role. There will be no need for a Director of Infrastructure, or Data Center Operations. Business is going to demand change, and the entire organization will follow.

Education will be key, and people’s willingness to forget what they know and re-learn will be the difficult part. Trying to relate the old world to the new is a problem. Come into the Cloud world with an open mind and a willingness to change your perspective and thinking, and learn new skills and the ‘journey to the cloud’ will be successful for all.  Let’s eliminate that skills gap!