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Finding the right talent for your cloud migration strategy

2 Jun 2021

As more organisations move their applications to the cloud, Hays’ Steve Weston says CIOs must find staff with the right cloud-based skills to optimise their migration strategies.

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You may be one of the 81pc of business leaders embracing the cloud because you’re concerned about missing out on the many benefits it will provide to your organisation.

However, such rapid expansion has created a shortage of qualified cloud professionals and CIOs need to address this skills gap alongside a range of other issues to facilitate a seamless cloud migration.

As a first step, you need to devise a detailed operational plan that encompasses the benefits of cloud computing for your specific business, the applications you should and should not run on the cloud, and a detailed proposal of how you intend to implement your migration.

For instance, a lift-and-shift migration takes an on-premise application and then replicates it to the cloud with no modifications to its design or architecture. Alternatively, you may want to change an application’s performance before moving it to the cloud – this is known as a re-architecting approach or application refactoring.

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Hybrid cloud solutions are another viable option for some businesses that need portability between public and private clouds. Also, consider the fate of your legacy applications, business drivers and cloud economics.

There are a handful of natural inflection points for moving to the cloud, including relocating your offices or data centres, developing a large set of new applications and implementing a more robust infrastructure upgrade.

You will also need to pick the right partner for your migration, with cloud platform services, infrastructure and application vendors forming the three main types of cloud migration partner. You may even consider working with all three partner types to find the most effective solution.

Hiring future-proofed, cloud-skilled professionals

You will need to evaluate the skillset of your staff when you start to plan your cloud migration. Vital cloud-based skills could be lacking, according to a 2017 Microsoft UK Cloud Skills Report, which stated that “3,500 organisations in the UK could be hampered by a lack of qualified staff” in the near future.

Moreover, the report revealed that 83pc of technical leaders believe cloud skills are critical to the digital transformation of their organisation. As a result, it’s imperative to migrate in the right way and with the right people.

So, if your IT operations team does not have the experience to manage your applications in the cloud, you will have to upskill your existing workforce or hire people with the relevant experience.

A managed service provider can also run your cloud applications in the early days and teach your IT operations team how to get to grips with your new infrastructure.

However, you will still need to find the right candidates with the right skillsets to optimise your cloud migration. For instance, your operations team should be familiar with at least one major cloud computing service. If they are well-versed in one stack, that knowledge can be transferred easily to design software for other stacks.

The underlying foundation of any cloud infrastructure is based on web services and APIs, and experience in virtualisation, storage and networking is also key for designing and operating applications.

Finally, I would recommend that your staff need to understand methodologies, including disaster recovery, high availability, fail over and redundancy, to keep your cloud service up and running.

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Must-have skills for cloud professionals

AI and machine learning skills

Major cloud providers, including Google, AWS and Azure, continue to roll out new artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning services. So, IT professionals with advanced data science skills and cloud-native AI technologies will be key.

Serverless architecture knowledge

Also known as function as a service (FaaS), a serverless architecture eliminates the need for developers to provision and manage the underlying infrastructure for building and running their applications.

Serverless architectures are a relatively new phenomenon but many experts predict they will replace containers and DevOps (development operations) in the near future.

Knowledge of multiple providers

The flexibility of the cloud allows you to choose different hosting environments based on cost, performance and other features.

As a result, IT professionals need to expand their cloud computing skills across multiple providers.

Experience with cloud-native platforms

Many organisations are now building cloud-optimised applications to benefit from its automation and scalability. Cloud skills related to DevOps will also continue to be sought by organisations that build these native apps.

Cloud security skills

The demand for cloud security skills shows no signs of stopping and, as such, you should recruit candidates with a deep knowledge of provider-native security tools.

Key areas to cover include protection against incidents, incident detection and incident response. This will drive a DevSecOps agenda that prioritises security across your infrastructure management, plus continuous integration and delivery pipelines.

Remember: there is no simple, one-size-fits-all solution to an enterprise cloud migration, so do not underestimate the time, effort and risks it presents. Technically, moving your applications to a cloud-based infrastructure is not overly demanding, but the continual running and managing of that service with the right contingency plans in place represents a huge operational challenge for any CIO.

An enterprise cloud migration relies on more than just the infrastructure it uses – its success depends on the skills of the people who implement and manage your cloud-based strategy now, and in the future.

By Steve Weston

Steve Weston is the chief information officer at Hays. A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.

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