It’s been a slow writing week. Southern-hemisphere winter colds have taken over my family and sleep has been scarce.

Today’s problem is that of “Cloud skills”. Cloud is an IT sector that is growing rapidly. Many IT professionals are unsure of how to get skilled in this discipline, despite the many opportunities. Many people also see cloud computing as a continuation of the offshoring/outsourcing paradigm and therefore a threat! And many companies themselves are unsure of how to skill their people for the job.

1..2..3! Pokot and flash – Kenya (Eric Lafforgue via Flickr)

Amazon Web Services is the de facto standard and dominant market player, but its technology is still quite new. As such there’s a shortage of skilled people. AWS only recently announced their Global Certification Program and as stated, it is aimed at Solutions Architects, SysOps Administrators (The future of sysadmin?) and Developers. Having completed the AWS certification myself, it confirmed that cloud computing is the ultimate generalist skill set.

A good “cloud person” will have a many of these skills:

  • Technical: Duh! The ability to spin up applications quickly on the Internet. Developers will have strong Java, .NET and Open Source skills. Also an understanding of sysadmin, caching, networking, orchestration, security and virtualisation.
  • Security: Will be able to assess the risk and consequences of using AWS and make specific security recommendations for these deployments (encryption at rest, key management, data obfuscation, user management, audit logging)
  • Service Management: Able to assess the service impact of AWS deployments and integrate with existing Service Management tool sets and practices. Able to read the fine print in vendors’ contracts and call them on their shortcomings.
  • Business: Have skills in one of the following areas: Enterprise Architecture, Business Analyst or Project Manager. Be able to speak the language of IT and business and interpret between these two worlds.
  • Data Integration: Understand the best methods of integrating data between cloud and in-house platforms. A good understanding of SOA principles.
  • Mobile: Understand the key drivers and constraints of mobile development and platforms.
  • Financial and Contract. A companies legal, commercial and project management teams will need training. IT staff will need to be able to assess and compare costs of in-house (High fixed cost, low ongoing) and AWS-based solutions (low fixed cost, ongoing costs potentially high – see point about having good Project Management skills). Be able to contribute to business case development.
  • The Cloud Roadmap: Technical recommendations and alternatives in cloud implementation. Understanding where your enterprise is on the path to cloud maturity.

If the silos of big IT (Servers, Networking, Storage, DBA etc.) were deep and impenetrable, these new AWS skill sets are very wide and possibly shallow. I suspect specialists will never go away though despite my own tendency to all things general.

Of course you only ever need the skills to do the job at hand. My list hints at where your job, and possibly career, could could possibly evolve to. Has anyone any personal experience of this? Did I miss anything?