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Navigating the Cloud Talent Gap

By David Cantu | Posted on May 28, 2024

By any measure, the birth of the public cloud was a pivotal moment.  

Seemingly overnight, it revolutionized how businesses manage their data, applications, and infrastructure.  

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Adoption of the cloud is not without its challenges, though, chief among them being the fact that the pool of qualified cloud experts is still relatively shallow. 

More and more, businesses are realizing that recruiting top-tier cloud specialists is no easy feat. And when they are available, keeping them is even harder.  

This lack of supply and overabundance of demand is obviously a boon for cloud experts. But for many organizations, the high price of bringing on cloud talent—talent that in many cases is able to demand $300,000 per year or more—just isn’t feasible. 

Why Cloud Expertise is Necessary

When companies partner with a provider like Azure, they naturally believe they will have access to all the expertise they need to thrive in the cloud. And to be sure, providers offer substantial technical support and guidance to their customers—as they should. 

But utilizing the cloud takes much more than solving technical issues. It requires a vision for how a cloud environment is constructed, as well as a combination of both soft and hard skills. 

Not only do cloud experts need to be proficient on the technical front, they also need to have: 

  • Strong leadership skills to guide the process of adopting the cloud, identify suitable workloads for the platform, and manage ongoing deployment 
  • Good communication so complex processes are easy for team members and others to understand 
  • Adaptability to advances in cloud technology and shifting business needs 

Meanwhile, the laundry list of hard skills needed includes knowledge of application architecture, automation, governance, virtualization, security, networking, various operating systems, programming languages, and more. 

Given all this, it’s easy to see why cloud experts are considered unicorns in the tech industry—and why companies are willing to pay a premium to bring talent onboard. 

But even when a cloud expert enters the fold, retaining them has its own set of challenges. In an industry where job hopping and lucrative offers are a regular occurrence, simply providing a competitive salary is often not enough. And with turnover comes added costs and disruptions. 

The Benefits of Partnership

There are two main reasons why organizations should consider partnering with an external partner rather than budgeting for in-house cloud expertise. One is financial, the other strategic. 

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Financially, outsourcing cloud-related functions to external experts provides access to top-tier talent without the need for hefty salaries and benefits packages. It also eliminates the problem of brain drain when cloud talent inevitably receives a better offer and heads for the exit. 

Strategically, going the outsourced route and entrusting cloud initiatives to a partner offers a greater scalability and agility that is very difficult to achieve with an in-house team. 

As business needs evolve and fluctuate, organizations can quickly scale their cloud resources up or down to meet demand, without the overhead of maintaining a large workforce. At the same time, partnering with external firms can help address the skills gap within organizations. Rather than struggling to recruit and retain scarce cloud talent, enterprises can focus on developing their core competencies while leaving the intricacies of cloud management to the experts.  

This allows internal teams to concentrate on strategic initiatives and value-added tasks, driving innovation and competitive advantage. 

Finding the Right Cloud Partner

As cloud adoption among enterprises has proliferated, more and more tech providers have added cloud expertise to their list of capabilities. 

This can make finding the right partner difficult, especially when tech jargon can easily mystify rather than clarify. 

So what should a third party be able to offer? At minimum, they should be able to provide a company with: 

  • An assessment of the company’s current IT infrastructure to identify opportunities for leveraging cloud services 
  • A roadmap for transitioning to the cloud, including recommendations for specific cloud services that will be used and the timeline for the transition 
  • Guidance on the various cloud models (public, private, hybrid) and an expert opinion about which model best suits a company’s needs 
  • Planning and execution of the transition to the cloud, including migrating applications and data, setting up and configuring cloud resources, and full testing to ensure everything works as expected 

Most of all, any good cloud partner will provide ongoing support and maintenance, along with consistent optimization of cloud environments to ensure the company is not overpaying for its environments. 

The cloud should be a means to achieving business goals and having a partner in place who understands that is the best way to ensure an investment in the cloud delivers an ROI. 

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