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The cloud changes IT culture, demands new tech skills

Sharon Gaudin | Oct. 15, 2015
Business is now pushing IT to get over its job fears and go all-in on the cloud

IT workers need to understand how to use the cloud. They need to be able to handle automation and DevOps, combining the role of developer with operations and other IT jobs. They also need to be able to work with big data and mobile.

"We don't' need someone who knows how to preserve bits," said Notre Dame's Chapple. "Our vendor does that. We don't need capacity planning. We've got that. We need people who can take the building blocks -- like virtual servers and elastic block stores -- from the cloud and put them together. You need to put together the storage and the server and the network and DNS and security to create your IT service."

Robert Mahowald, an analyst with IDC, said his firm's enterprise surveys have found that there's generally a 50% skills gap between where IT workers' skills are today and where companies want them to be in two years.

"People who have had traditional roles will either be retrained, repurposed or reskilled," said Mahowald.

At The Weather Company, Williams said, all 400 of its tech staffers are are doing a different type of job today than they were before the company moved to the cloud.

All of them.

"They play in the same place but with an entirely different set of skills," said Williams. "All of them are now retrained or they've added to their skills or they are doing something different."

Most of the changes the tech workers had to go through were at least eventually met with acceptance and sometimes excitement. Fewer than 10 of their IT people left the company because of the changes they were asked to make.

"Most folks, once they get past that, get excited about the change," said Williams. "Some folks get frustrated and move on and that's obviously unfortunate."

Business dragging IT to the cloud

Another trend: There has been a switch-up in who actually is pushing for companies to move to the cloud.

In the past, many IT managers wanted to try the cloud with specific apps or services. At the same time, CEOs were hesitant to jump in, largely worried about security, accessibility and reliability issues.

Now, however, many business executives have gotten over those worries but IT workers have developed their own set of concerns about changing their skills and their jobs.

"Now that the cloud isn't so new and scary, IT still wants to poke around but business is saying, 'Now! Stop screwing around and get on the cloud!' " said Mahowald. "IT still wants to piecemeal it. They're not taking the big step to build cloud-first, think cloud-first and build databases in the cloud. They're still thinking about Band-Aids."

 

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