As cloud offerings evolve and enterprise organizations look to do more in the cloud, IT professionals need to add new cloud-related skills.

Andrew Froehlich, President & Lead Network Architect, West Gate Networks

March 27, 2018

4 Min Read
Image: Shutterstock

Many aspects of the cloud are designed, built and managed in vastly different ways when compared to on-premise architectures. If that's the case, then why is it that IT managers fail to understand that their in-house IT staff need to gain new skills when migrating massive portions of applications and data into third-party service provider networks?

It's one of those things that baffles me as an IT professional. Yet it happens all the time.

I believe that an IT department lacks proper cloud skills due to the migration method they've used to get to the cloud. For most, the process was one where existing applications and data that were easy to migrate were taken on first. Then moving forward, all new apps and data sets were built in the cloud -- often using a cloud-native software architecture approach.

Right now, many businesses find themselves with a hybrid infrastructure that doesn't match up apples-to-apples. Because so many of us used a "dipping the toe" mentality when it came to cloud adoption, there was little thought into designing a company's cloud according to best-practice fundamentals. Also, for some, the recommended technologies and concepts have changed over time, leaving their cloud unable to properly scale.

IT management is beginning to receive feedback that their current cloud designs are inadequate and in need of a re-architecture. Everything from IP subnetting to storage services and security policies need to be reworked to create a cloud that's usable for the long term. Unfortunately, management is under the assumption that those cloud professionals that originally built and managed the cloud architecture they occupy today, are the right resources to build their cloud of tomorrow.

In many cases, this is a false assumption.

What I'm finding is that cloud professionals that designed and built early clouds do not have the necessary architecture training in their specific cloud disciplines. It's not really their fault. When cloud computing initially exploded, there were relatively few professional training options available. As a result, many have been self-taught. Because of this, cloud administrators often developed false assumptions about how a cloud should be built and managed.

This places IT managers in an unfortunate position where they cannot fully trust those cloud professionals they’re currently relying on. The good news is, this is an easy fix. The number of professional training classes and certifications that focus on any number of cloud areas has caught fire as of late. Cloud training courses focus on a wide range of topics covering areas such as high-level business strategies of cloud computing, network-only cloud skills and ongoing management and administration of the cloud. The key is to figure out what skills you need according to business goals. Once that's done, managers must allocate the time for cloud professionals to gain the necessary, best-practice skills for designing, building and maintaining the cloud network that will propel your organization into the future.

Figuring out what skills technical professionals need to acquire can get tricky. On one hand, vendor-neutral training on general architecture topics can be beneficial because architects can use their skills in any number of cloud service provider data centers. It also is extremely useful for those that are seeking multicloud architectures that span two or more cloud networks.

On the other hand, IT leaders are discovering that they require very specific skills focused on the best practices of the cloud provider where they are tenants. Additionally, as cloud networks become increasingly complex, IT infrastructure administrators will need to fill specialized roles when it comes to the cloud. These duties may include systems, network, and security responsibilities, as well as higher-level architecture roles that think “big picture”. That sounds familiar, right? So, in a sense, the same roles your IT administrators once performed in-house are simply migrating to the cloud. Only this time, new training is needed.

The bottom line is that as your cloud computing needs grow and expand, the skills required to support them must also evolve. Unlike what many IT leaders believe, your cloud provider is constantly making changes to the underlying infrastructure architecture you rely upon. Thus, it’s important that your IT staff maintain proper training to keep up with those changes.

About the Author(s)

Andrew Froehlich

President & Lead Network Architect, West Gate Networks

Andrew has well over a decade of enterprise networking under his belt through his consulting practice, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and datacenter build-outs and prior experience at organizations such as State Farm Insurance, United Airlines and the University of Chicago Medical Center. Having lived and worked in South East Asia for nearly three years, Andrew possesses a unique international business and technology perspective. When he's not consulting, Andrew enjoys writing technical blogs and is the author of two Cisco certification study guides published by Sybex.

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