Cloud computing development jobs are suddenly everywhere
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Now is the time to have cloud computing development skills in your pocket as the industry shifts to the cloud everywhere, cloud skills are in high demand and will likely usher in a new breed of engineers. We talk with an expert to learn more.
According to a recent LinkedIn study, cloud computing is the most in-demand hard skill of 2019. In just the past year in fact, job postings that included the terms “cloud computing” or “cloud engineer” have spiked to 27%. It’s powering the rapid adoption of server virtualization, then storage virtualization, followed by network virtualization. As enterprises increasingly pivot their infrastructure from the premises to the cloud, companies like San Francisco-based WANdisco are coming up with cloud platform solutions and looking every year to fill their ranks. Students and new employees who recognize that need, as well as the availability of free or low-cost online training programs, will find that skill putting them at the forefront of tomorrow’s economy.
We spoke to David Richards, Founder and CEO of WANdisco to learn more about how businesses are craving a new type of employment for skills in the cloud.
ADM: What makes cloud computing development the most in-demand hard skill of 2019, and where do you see it by 2020?
Richards: Cloud Development is the most in-demand skill in 2019 in large part because of the increased demand. Cloud development skills are in most cases as easy or as difficult to learn as the corresponding on-premise technology stack, and in many cases, there is significant overlap between the two. Today’s resource demand is caused by the growing gap between the supply of experienced cloud resources and the rapid enterprise adoption of Cloud platforms.
The majority of public Cloud adoption to date can be attributed to companies that started their business in the Cloud, early adopters, and from large enterprises that have been testing small workloads over the last 3 to 5 years. We are now seeing a large enterprise workload shift to public Clouds, potentially categorized as the late majority by customer count, but this shift will be massive, based on scale and volume of workloads.
The rapid shift from on-premise and private cloud solutions to the public Cloud has drastically increased the demand for resources with Cloud experience, which can be summarized as hands-on knowledge with Cloud networking, compute, and software stacks.
The resource shortage is further exacerbated by the numerous Cloud options, each with their unique tooling, each trying to make their respective platforms the easiest on which to develop. AWS has been a leader in this area, but most companies are now savvy to the risk of vendor lock-in and many are beginning to avoid the Cloud native development tools that are only available on a single platform. Many enterprises are also seeking best-of-breed cloud solutions, a more agile approach that requires data and compute to be spread across multiple platforms.
The challenge is not only finding Cloud resources in general but finding resources that have experience in the specific desired Cloud platform, e.g., AWS, Google, Azure, Alibaba or a specific Cloud software solution. In 2020 and beyond, enterprises will be looking for resources that have expert level knowledge in more than a single platform.
ADM: What opportunities and challenges do cloud computing present to enterprises?
Richards: Enterprises have been working towards Cloud-like computing for at least ten years, initially with the rapid adoption of server virtualization, then storage virtualization, followed by network virtualization. There were several large technology providers offering fully integrated virtualized solutions shipped to a customer’s data center, which paved the way for “private” cloud. The launch of private-Cloud was a small step from the previously mentioned solutions, often with a more robust management interface.
The transition from “private” to “public” Cloud is a significant change for enterprises and entails relinquishing the level of control they’ve maintained over their technology stack when it all resided in a controlled data-center.
The biggest challenge can also present the biggest opportunity for enterprises, and that is the proliferation of high-quality cloud applications and platforms.
Enterprises business units are fortunate to have many choices, and most will want to pursue best-in-class solutions for their specific business problems. The challenge that enterprises technology teams have is one they’ve always faced, managing the complexity of data availability across many data storage and compute silos to support different applications.
Historically enterprises faced the complexity of managing application sprawl. They inserted controls to limit the business unit’s choices, with the objective of maintaining control and minimizing cost and complexity. The result was an entrepreneurial response from the business units to embrace the public Cloud. The uncontrolled adoption of public cloud solutions by business units resulted in enterprises IT organizations realizing that they had to change in order to meet business demand for self-service alternatives. As a result, they began pursuing private Cloud solutions.
We are now seeing Cloud-based application sprawl as business units seek best-in-class solutions. Managing this complexity will be one of the biggest challenges for enterprises over the next several years.
ADM: What skill sets are hardest to find for cloud computing and why?
Richards: Experience in 2018 recruiting efforts has shown that any real depth of Cloud experience was generally hard to find. Many candidates had some experience, but most skilled resources were gainfully employed and are not willing to consider new opportunities. For most candidates with even limited experience, it was consistently siloed experience with a single Cloud platform. Candidates with notable experience across more than a single cloud provider were simply not available.
As mentioned above, as enterprises increase Cloud adoption and seek best-in-class solutions, they will need resources that have expert-level knowledge across multiple cloud solutions, which is a very difficult skill set to find in the current market.
ADM: Can you walk us through what these new emerging positions - blockchain developers, cloud engineers, application sales executives, and machine learning specialists - actually do and why they are increasingly essential?
Richards: Blockchain development is based on an understanding of the associated elements of cryptography as well as peer to peer networking and distributed development. As the technology is applied to a wider and wider set of use cases, demand for developers with this comparatively rare combination of skills continues to rise. The result is a classic example of low supply plus growing demand.
Cloud engineers translate business requirements into technology architectures, as do their on-premise counterparts, but must do so taking into account the ability to provide reliable, secure, efficient, and cost-effective cloud-based and hybrid architectures. The need for best-of-breed solutions and avoidance of vendor lock-in drives a requirement for expertise across multiple clouds, familiarity with their specific offerings and relative strengths, and how to integrate elements of multiple public cloud offerings into a holistic architecture that best meets the needs of the business. As noted above, while it is possible to find resources with expertise in a specific cloud environment they are usually in high demand, and those with expertise in integration across multiple clouds are extremely rare.
Application sales executives in a cloud context must understand at a high level the challenges of integrating cloud-based applications into a customer’s business in a secure and reliable manner, and must often rely on Cloud engineers to design suitable architectures to do so. Of the areas under discussion here, the skillset of a cloud-based application sales executive overlaps to the highest degree with that of their counterparts with experience selling applications based on on-premise or private cloud architectures.
Finally, machine learning is a very hot subset of the broader field of artificial intelligence and will in all probability continue to experience rapidly growing demand in the foreseeable future. Machine learning specialists must have expertise in algorithms and statistical models that enable computers to perform tasks without explicit instructions, but rather to “learn” based on iterative processing of sets of training data. Familiarity with frameworks and libraries that have been developed to facilitate these tasks, such as TensorFlow, is essential. This is a rapidly emerging growth area enabled by the availability of relatively inexpensive computing resources at cloud scale, and one in which demand greatly exceeds the current supply of experienced practitioners.
ADM: What kinds of opportunities exist for students or employees looking to learn one of these skill sets?
Richards: Each major public cloud platform or cloud application offers certification processes, and many provide a significant amount of training available for free or at little cost.
I sourced the Udemy business solution for my team, providing them with access to online training courses, which included most of the large Cloud platforms. The Udemy platform gives my team the ability to develop their knowledge as part of an ongoing training and enablement path. My long-term objective is to develop knowledge and experience across my team that spans multiple cloud platforms.
With regard to both blockchain and machine learning, there is a growing amount of content readily available online, and many technical conferences now offer tutorials and intensive learning sessions on these and related technologies.
ADM: How do you think these new in-demand jobs will change the approach to managing data and how enterprises operate?
Richards: Even though more control and technology spending will continue to shift back to the business units, central IT will remain critical in ensuring key data assets are maintained in a consistent and secure manner. As a result, we should expect to see an increase in the following jobs:
Cloud security: the ease to proliferate data across the different Cloud platforms and applications is a significant risk for enterprises. To mitigate these risks enterprises must proactively manage the associated controls and security.
Cloud Data Mobility – with the distribution of data across multiple best-in-class solutions, the need for expertise to make data available and consistent across multiple locations will be critical to operations.
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