Got the right skills for the cloud? Three areas where you may need to sharpen up

Why tech skillsets are just going to have to change...

...understand the concept, user interface and perhaps the API but little else. Designing with cloud in mind is desirable but not essential and so moving to IaaS should not be a painful experience in terms of skills.

A shift to the cloud requires you to take security probably more seriously than ever before<

A shift to the cloud requires you to take security probably more seriously than ever beforePhoto: Shutterstock

Skills area 1. Platform as a service

However, PaaS products such as Microsoft's Azure represent a whole new frontier and require much tighter integration with software development and application lifecycle management to realise maximum benefits.

IT departments have to redesign application with PaaS in mind and the deployment model is largely driven by how the service provider offers its service.

PaaS will almost certainly require the greater level of retraining and the skills learned will not necessarily be transferable should you choose to change PaaS vendors.

Skills area 2. Security awareness

The other major skills issue lies in security. This is a large, complex area where skills are already in short supply. Here, expertise often goes beyond the technical into legislation and differs from country to country.

So, a shift to the cloud requires you to take security probably more seriously than ever before. The mindset needs to be cultivated in IT that mitigating the risk of data compromise, particularly in public cloud, is a fundamental part of deployment and hosting.

That might sound obvious but moving completely to cloud suddenly puts former datacentre-only communications into the public domain and introduces potential vulnerabilities that may never have been considered.

Security awareness is definitely an area to revisit when planning reskilling.

Skills area 3. Deployment savvy

Moving to cloud is also a good time to review how you manage your software deployments. For IaaS, the approach may not be too unfamiliar but PaaS will introduce complexities in metadata which have to be part of your deployment process.

If you don't already use automation to deploy, it is essential you do for the cloud - so there's more reskilling to consider.

In short, many IT departments move from physical environments to the cloud and expect it to perform the same. In reality the cloud is a completely different beast. No two clouds are the same.

The cloud is full of commercial opportunity but it is not as simple as many expect. IT departments need to look carefully at their teams to consider who in their talent pool are self-learners, who have transferable skills and who are unlikely to make the change.

Moving to the cloud is a change management process. Human resources departments might need to be briefed and involved to help attract and retain the best talent. But don't be put off from making the change. There is no huge skills chasm to cross - certainly nothing that you can't take in your stride given the right preparation.

Ian Molyneaux has worked in IT for over 35 years and is head of performance at software consultancy Intechnica, which specialises in .NET development and performance assurance for the enterprise with a focus on cloud.