A recent IDC FutureScape on the future of the cloud market forecasts that 65 percent of organizations’ IT assets will be offsite, in co-located, hosting and cloud data centers by 2018. One-third of IT staff will be working at third-party service providers.

This staff prediction points to the reality that we are in the midst of an industrywide shortage of cloud skills. Global Knowledge in 2015 found that one out of five decision-makers was having difficulty finding talent with the skills for cloud initiatives, while cloud computing jobs were one of the highest paying, with a mean salary of $102,000.

CompTIA cited in its 2016 IT industry outlook a prediction by IDC that the cloud would create 7 million jobs between 2013 and 2015. The trade group noted that many of these jobs most likely already existed but were re-engineered with a greater cloud focus.

For those weighing a career in IT, cloud skills are in high demand and worth pursuing. There is a real opportunity for career advancement and success for network and data center professionals with the right training and certifications.

Variations on a theme

There are public, private and hybrid clouds. No one type of cloud is best; it depends entirely on the needs, resources and preferences of each organization, along with the type of data it generates and uses.

The public cloud frees users from having to create its own cloud infrastructure, but it has issues. One of them is security and another is accessibility. For these reasons, many organizations are setting up and maintaining private clouds. Still other organizations prefer a hybrid cloud approach: they use the public cloud when needed, like in peak demand periods, when individual applications can be sent to the public cloud. Hybrids are also helpful during rough weather, scheduled maintenance or rolling brownouts or blackouts.

Cloud skills needed

Whatever cloud an organization uses, it will need IT professionals with certain cloud skills. Some of the fundamental skills are cloud migration and cloud security. Cloud skills training and certification courses should combine learning conceptual knowledge with developing hands-on skills. Among the topics covered should be:

  • Cloud systems management
  • Private and hybrid cloud design
  • Cloud security design
  • Cloud infrastructure launch
  • ACI and APIC automation
  • Private and hybrid IaaS provisioning
  • Application provisioning and lifecycle management

Though a significant number of organizations have already made the move to the cloud, many others are not there yet. They need IT professionals who have a solid grounding in the varying models for clouds. They also need to know how to map the organization’s current IT infrastructure, including its applications and workloads on existing servers, and how to send all of what they have mapped to a cloud equivalent. The larger the organization, the more complicated this becomes.Another major skill IT professionals need is cloud security. Almost every day brings news of yet another data breach. How to keep data secure, how to build and maintain secure platforms, and securing cloud infrastructure are all high-demand skills.Other coveted cloud skills are those related to PaaS, SaaS and IaaS. Organizations need IT professionals with knowhow to develop and work with cloud applications. The same applies to cloud platforms and infrastructures. This means they should be fluent in cloud programming languages like Python, Perl and Ruby along with traditional languages like .NET, Java and PHP. Linux skills are also in high demand.Cloud database expertise is in high demand as well. Every day, at least 2.5 exabytes of data are produced – the equivalent of 90 years’ worth of HD video. Organizations want most to uncover insights and new markets from this tsunami of data, and they need IT professionals with cloud database querying skills. SQL along with open source languages like MySQL, Hadoop or Mongo DB are worth learning.

Throwing down the cloud gauntlet

There’s a huge need for IT professionals with the right cloud skills and certifications. This presents a great career opportunity for those pros to upgrade their skills and show their organizations that they can help drive cloud deployments in a consistent and centralized manner. Are you one of them? To learn more about Cisco’s cloud training and certifications click here 


Antonella Corno

Senior manager of product strategy, Learning@Cisco