Sky High: Cloud Skills That Will Lift Your Career

If you feel like your professional growth has flatlined, acquiring basic skills in different aspects of cloud technologies is one way to get your career back on an upward trajectory.

The overall cloud adoption rate in the U.K. now stands at 88 percent, with 67 percent of users expecting to increase their adoption of cloud services over the coming year, according to new research from the Cloud Industry Forum.

Moreover, the rapid expansion has created a shortage of qualified professionals, forcing companies to pay a premium to recruit contractors and permanent staff with in-demand cloud skillsets.

Don’t let the cloud(s) pass you by: here are the essential skills you need to either preserve your current job or land a new position.

Acquire Baseline Knowledge

If you haven’t been involved in cloud adoption, migration or deployment projects, mastering fundamentals and core concepts is the best way to get started, advised Alex Hilton, CEO of the Cloud Industry Forum.

Taking a vendor-agnostic strategy or foundations course, or studying an adoption/migration roadmap, can help you learn how to develop applications, build infrastructure and manage security.

Such research can increase your understanding of the business benefits and drawbacks of cloud computing, and teach you how to manage projects, preparing you for a senior-level or management position. Free or low-cost courses are available through A Cloud Guru, Linux Academy, Firebrand Training and Cloud Academy. (There are plenty of free online training resources and self-paced training labs available on the web.)

Multi-Vendor Platforms

Depending on your industry and business, become proficient with either AWS or Microsoft Azure, advised Mike Brown, senior instructor of cloud programs for Firebrand Training: “The interfaces are slightly different and they use different terminology and scripting tools but both platforms offer similar capabilities around flexible computing, storage and networking.”

The knowledge you gain via one platform, in other words, is applicable to the other. “It’s not a big leap to go from one to the other,” he added, “and having multi-vendor capabilities will make you more marketable.” Here is a services comparison of the two platforms.

If you’re going to invest in a certification, the ones available for AWS are more likely to have an immediate impact on your compensation. Through August, the salaries for tech pros with AWS skills have increased by 58 percent over the prior year; having in-demand cloud certifications can net contractors £300 more per day.

Security Fundamentals

Because businesses are extremely concerned about the security and privacy of their data stored on remote servers, completing a course in security concepts and fundamentals can increase your value and help you stand out from your colleagues.

Above all, you need to have a solid understanding of security vulnerabilities and controls, backups, disaster recovery and each party’s responsibilities for physical and digital security (as specified in contracts and SLAs). Which leads us to another skillset that can boost your pay and improve your CV: vendor management skills.

Vendor Management Skills

While contract negotiations and day-to-day monitoring of third-party and outsourced vendors are must-have skills for vendor managers, admins, and security gurus as well as network admins and architects in some firms, understanding risk mitigation strategies can energize the careers of anyone who “touches” cloud computing, including DBAs, virtualization specialists, and even application developers.

The Right Mentality

What exactly is a cloud mentality? From a career standpoint, it means adopting a new approach to the way you perform your job, and adding complementary skills that enable the transition to this new paradigm.

If you’re a network engineer, for instance, understanding basic coding skills is becoming critical. If you haven’t already, augment your existing capabilities by using scripts to automate routine tasks. Implement a DevOps process, and be ready to walk developers through the steps of launching a cloud application.

Developers need to approach their work with an operational mindset and have an understanding of the deployment process and infrastructure. “The cloud is not going away and roles are changing,” Brown noted. “Right now, you can learn new skills and get ahead of the changes. But eventually, tech pros who stay stuck in their old ways may not have job security.”

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