Cloud computing comes in many forms, from the use of third-party resources to store data (called the "public cloud") to delivery of IT services within a company based on virtualized infrastructure, self-configuration, and automated provisioning (called the "private cloud"). Cloud computing also has a wide range of hybrid offerings. The use of the term "cloud" can refer to public, private, or hybrid clouds.
The primary benefits of cloud computing are that it frees up resources for companies to use in other ways and it lowers the cost of IT support functions. When properly applied, a relatively small investment in innovative, flexible, and aligned IT spending "in the cloud" can be leveraged into a significant return in business revenue.
Research has found that the majority of companies worldwide feel cloud computing is a high IT priority and they are planning, implementing, or using cloud computing in some fashion. However, most of these companies have also expressed security, access, or data control concerns with the public or private implementation of cloud computing.
Nearly every IT department is seeking some type of cloud-enabling capability — virtualization, performance monitoring, service management, provisioning, performance optimization, or automation.
Yet, IT managers report that the biggest reason they fail to fill open requisitions for cloud-related IT jobs is the candidates' lack of sufficient experience, training, or certification. Simply put, the IT workforce is not ready.
The need for cloud skills will grow at a much faster rate than for general IT skills.
As companies adopt the cloud computing model, the need for skilled IT professionals with applicable cloud technology experience will put resource pressures on many hiring managers. Middle market executives will need to make sure the following skill sets are available to them in support of their cloud computing initiatives:
- Management and coordination: The ability to manage relationships with outside cloud service providers and manage projects involving resources from several external organizations.
- Analysts and programmers: The ability to design and develop solutions using cloud-based tools, as compared to traditional on-premise applications.
- Systems and operations: The ability to monitor system performance and uptime across multiple cloud service providers.
- Security and connectivity: The ability to ensure proper security and connectivity mechanisms are in place at all times with all cloud-based solutions.
- Training and support: The ability to provide end user training and support with these emerging application capabilities.
These skill categories have been the foundation of good IT practices for years. What has become a challenge is the applicability of these skills to a whole new computing platform. Some of the needed skills such as operations and support functions will be shifting heavily from internal to external resources, as cloud providers can deliver such services in a more effective manner through their increased use of standardized delivery models.
Cloud computing offers exciting and innovative opportunities for middle market companies, but managers need to plan for the needed resources in a careful manner, to ensure their organizations will be reaping the benefits of such technologies.
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