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Cloud skills: IT teams' lack of know-how is derailing deployments

Many IT departments just don't have the architecture and infrastructure skills in-house to cope with cloud deployments.

The shortage of cloud skills in IT teams is so severe it's holding up deployments and leaving firms to look outside to buy in costly expertise.

Almost one out of two UK companies says the lack of cloud skills has hampered projects, research from Manchester Business School and Rackspace has found.

Cloud skills are in ridiculously short supply, according to David Morgan, CEO of data-science tools provider Augify.

"The laws of supply and demand mean that the cost goes up and the only IT teams that can sensibly afford those are the large companies. It's a thorny problem," he said.

His firm takes big data from sources such as newsfeeds, blogs and chatrooms and analyses it in real time for, say, brand names, commodities or equities and for sentiment, emotion and intention and then provides visualisations of the results.

Importance of cloud

"We're trying to query things like 24 billion records in under a second. That lends itself to huge processing power and huge storage capability and obviously our client base can't afford to have that type of infrastructure. So the cloud is ideal," Morgan said.

But he is struggling to find staff with the architectural skills to build powerful applications in the cloud.

"We need quite high-end infrastructure people who really understand scalability of huge exabytes of data and we need also cloud-based data scientists as well. There are just none around," he said.

Only 19 per cent of UK firms think their IT team is capable of implementing cloud projects, according to the Manchester-Rackspace study. Some 37 per cent would like to hire staff just for their cloud skills but can't find suitable candidates.

Direct and opportunity costs

Apart from the direct and opportunity costs involved in looking outside for skills, the shortage is having an impact in other areas.

"We want to kick on but management energy just gets distracted and your growth aspirations and your planning for growth just get stymied by the lack of skillsets. It impairs the pace of growth," Morgan said.

He described the introduction of a cloud computing Masters course at Manchester Business School, starting in 2014, as a terrific initiative.

"You've got to start at grassroots level. The price point of some of these high skills from around the world is now pretty prohibitive - we need some home-grown talent," he said.

Absence of core cloud competencies

Morgan added that he felt there is also scope for on-the-job training. "But you need some core competencies first, and finding those core competencies at a significant level even to start to build on is difficult," he said.

Morgan added that given the negative impact of the cloud skills issue on business, it deserves a far higher profile.

"I'd like see more open and transparent discussion about these skills shortages - to encourage the first graduate intake of people into Manchester and also for other colleges and universities to grasp the nettle too," he said.

Rackspace this week launched its Open Cloud Academy service, which it describes as a pilot training program to provide IT staff with affordable IT certifications on open cloud technologies.

About

Toby Wolpe is a senior reporter at TechRepublic in London. He started in technology journalism when the Apple II was state of the art.

10 comments
CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

There weren't many specific examples in this article. The one specific one, about a lack of skilled 'big data' developers isn't a cloud issue. That shortage would still exist if the client was trying to find someone to develop for an internally hosted, non-cloud application. I submit that many of the missing skills aren't cloud-specific as much as they are just skills in other aspects of IT that some one to take to the cloud; that these skills are missing from non-cloud environments too. Update: I made the mistake of posting this before reading previous comments. I think info@ and Tony already made most of the same points.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Supply and demand, gentleman. Your rules, your market, your big smiley face when it's you supply is being demanded of. Who was it, who chose cheap, and who got what they paid for?

SctClsn
SctClsn

closing statement "Rackspace this week launched it's open cloud academy service" Coincidence, I think not...

info
info

It sounds like the person quoted mainly in the article wants to deal with 'Big Data' performance and size, but at a 'Home-Grown MS Access Database' price-point. "Where is the local talent (that I can exploit because otherwise they won't have a job)?" Even though 'Cloud Skills' aren't defined, they even mentioned 'Core Competencies'. What are THOSE, so interested parties can even get a start in fulfilling these demands? "We need you to do something!" "What?" "You know! SOMETHING!" "Can you describe it?" "No... But you know what we want! Cheap!" *Sigh*

Imprecator
Imprecator

Of course it is IT's fault, as usual. The suits need a scapegoat for believing consultants who sold them the idea that they could outsource everything to the cloud and wouldn't need Grumpy Whiny IT Geeks. Now they're getting stuck up the creek without a paddle (as seen here: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/cio-insights/businesses-caught-out-by-the-complexity-of-cloud/39749797?tag=mantle_skin;content) And who's fault is it? IT's fault of course just as I predicted on the discussion thread of that article.

Marc Jellinek
Marc Jellinek

This has been a buzzword-rich, content-free article.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

All this time, it's all the working class not being bothered to catch up, what with having useless things such as social lives, families, time to breathe, etc... As for the much malleable law of supply and demand, if everyone is saying x or y talent is needed, HOME COME WAGES STILL STAGNATE OR DROP. What a crock - as shown by the market's actions and market forces, rather than being told what it's supposed to do. Worse, workers need money to, you know, eat and get educated and live... do you want labor for nothing? How about doing your job for nothing and see how long you last. Signed, the working class fed up with the wealth redistribution from the workers upward, while noting corporate welfare and tax cuts and bailouts and other giveaways that also come at our expense.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

What skills are specific to cloud after all.? I can't think of one, may be these so called shortages are down to buzzword bingo searches...

Marc Jellinek
Marc Jellinek

That this story has run (in a more complete form) in about 100 mainstream articles and blogs. These were probably read (but not referenced) by Mr. Wolpe and hijacked into his own article. This is what happens when authors know next to nothing about what they are writing about... but the topic is hot.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

But that problem exists across IT sectors; it isn't 'cloud-specific'. I'd like to slap the marketing idiots that decided to hyper-extend the word 'cloud' beyond it's previous telecom-only boundaries.