Skills Needed To Propel Your Career To The Cloud

Cloud computing has been the driving force of business in recent years and this new technology has had a huge impact on nearly every aspect of the IT landscape including data and analytics, information security and project management. Cloud computing is now the default mode of operation in most companies, which has led to an IT job shakeup and a change in the work environment. In fact LinkedIn reported that ‘cloud and distributed computing’ was the hottest skillset to get hired in 2016.

More enterprises are moving applications into the cloud and there is a demand in the job market for a blend of traditional knowledge in networking and data systems with technical skills in planning, implementing and managing cloud solutions & mobility. The aim is to get the best overall business results from strategic technology investments in public, private, and hybrid cloud approaches. Today, employers are looking for cloud architects and developers, data scientists, database administrators, security specialists and more; all of which require a specific focus on the use of the cloud in the narrow (database administration, DevOps) and the wide (cloud strategy and planning).

Major Cloud Skills For A Successful Career

With rapid changes in cloud technology, the education never stops for a cloud-first career. To make yourself invaluable to companies, you need to develop major technical skill sets through vendor-specific and vendor-neutral training and certifications from cloud service providers (Amazon, Microsoft, and Google) and industry trade associations (CompTIA offers the Cloud+ certification). So what are some of the major key skill categories that need to be developed by the modern cloud professional to face new business challenges for the foreseeable future?

Strategic Understanding of Cloud Technologies and Platforms

IT architects should have a strategic understanding of all the major cloud technology available, considering the multi-cloud approach being preferred by enterprises lately. You may also need to build expertise in at least one of the public cloud giants, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure. Amazon may be the popular first choice among businesses, closely followed by Microsoft and Google but don’t lose sight of other cloud platforms such as IBM, HP, Verizon, OpenStack, and CenturyLink that are also spurring job openings. Developers need knowledge of one or more vendor’s cloud products to be of value to companies. Containerization is a new technology for cloud environments. Learning how to use containers for running applications in the cloud will prove to be a big advantage in the job market. Docker adoption has grown and so will demand for cloud professionals experienced with it.

Data Center Management

Enterprises increasingly will have to manage an assortment of cloud services, applications, vendors, and cloud types (public, private, and hybrid). A cloud pro will have to help efficiently manage multi-cloud environments and integrate data across multiple applications from a cross-section of vendors, platforms or even different data centers. Cloud integration becomes even more complex when you want your cloud systems to talk to your legacy systems, too. So it is fundamental for cloud-first professionals to include integration and workflow analysis as a first step, making it a must have skill.

Security Specialization

Security has always been the number one concern for businesses when it comes to adopting new technology, and cloud computing is no exception. With high profile breaches continuing to make headlines, cloud security is likely to remain an area of concern. You can read the latest Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) published by Verizon to know about the latest security threats for businesses. Many businesses struggle to find the right staff to address cloud security issues and threat from cyber attacks on the whole organization. Security specialists’ work with cloud architects to take crucial decisions about where and how to store critical business data to best protect it. It involves adopting necessary identity management, authentication and security monitoring systems for the cloud environment. For those looking to develop cloud security skills access management, software development security and build credentials for data and infrastructure security & compliance, (ISC)2’s Certified Cloud Security Professional provides the right training solution.

Database

There are about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being created every day and with databases being hosted on cloud platforms, companies are desperate for professionals with skills in storing, managing and accessing this data. It is essential to understand and work with database platforms and a database querying language. SQL and MySQL are the de-facto standard database languages to learn but you can also develop skills with open-source platforms like Hadoop or Mongo DB. There are established certification tracks for Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle Database or try the MongoDB university. Oracle covers MySQL training and Hadoop courses are available from Cloudera.

Systems Automation

With an overload of information, working with it manually for most companies is an unsustainable practice nowadays. Automation software has therefore become more important in cloud-first environments. Developers who can automate tasks and processes to improve data efficiency within a company are highly sought after. You can gain skills in automation solutions by learning about Puppet, Chef, Ansible, and others. Puppet Labs offers live courses to certifications and even self-paced online learning. Chef also has a number of interactive learning modules.

DevOps

DevOps experience is absolutely necessary for the cloud-first organizations and it is crucial even for traditional IT roles like Systems Administrator. With servers migrating to the cloud there is a quantifiable demand for DevOps who are strategic contributors to the planning and maintenance of software development. You can learn more about it from DevOps.com and there are short DevOps courses available at the Linux academy and also the Microsoft Virtual Academy.

Programming Language

With the growing prominence of new programming languages like Python, Perl, Ruby and Ruby on Rails in the development of cloud application ecosystem, developers have to spend time learning these common languages. Traditional languages like .NET, JavaScript, Java and PHP remain popular too. To improve your cloud computing skills, you must familiarize yourself with some of these languages.  There are many free courses available from Codecademy and online resources like interactive coding lessons. Pick any to get learning!

Linux

The cloud computing environment is dominated by the Linux operating system, so being familiar with it will give you a big advantage. Over 25% of servers using Azure are Linux based, which further drives the demand among businesses for cloud professionals with Linux skills. Learn to design, build, manage and maintain Linux servers in a cloud environment to stay ahead of your potential competitors. The Linux Foundation Certified Systems Administrator course helps develop the administration skills for a Linux Server and Microsoft’s MCSA: Linux on Azure teaches skills to create cloud-enabled Linux solutions for the Azure platform.

Management And Business Skills 

Recent reports by Gartner and TechTarget show that IT roles in the future will require an intermediate level of expertise in business acumen to clearly identify and adapt to changes in the business for value creation and growth. IT professionals should be able to align company’s goals with the technology and strategies adopted to be a real differentiator in the space. Cloud computing requires related business skills like people management and communication within the organization and even with outside vendors. It is important to support IT, cloud, virtualization, security, applications, and the data center but it is as vital to communicate the value of the technology on the overall business. Success in cloud career also depends on having a clear understanding of the financial implications of different cloud strategies. The total cost of ownership and return on investment will be vastly different when opting for cloud service rather than purchasing on-premise hardware and software. Being able to tailor and enhance value projections to employers according to your specific business has become a necessary skill for cloud pros. A good insight of costs and other financial matters in the cloud along with negotiation skills can help in cloud vendor management. Coursera, in association with the University of Michigan, offers a free online course to develop Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies & Skills. IT pros who can deliver custom analytics from business data tailored to the needs of different stakeholders within the organizations will reap rich rewards in the future.

Be The Modern Cloud Professional

Cloud computing and data storage in the cloud offers a huge array of opportunities for developers and other technical employees to leverage their existing expertise, while working on developing business and technology skillset mentioned in this article. The future is in the cloud and the sooner tech professionals adapt their roles to it, the more exciting opportunities there will be for them to get hired now and beyond.