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Adopting cloud at scale

Undoubtedly, cloud computing has become the new norm for any digitally enabled business. However, commonly accepted, well-documented and comprehensive strategies for cloud adoption remain lacking, with Gartner estimating that fewer than one third of enterprises have these in place.

For those who do, more than 80% of enterprises surveyed as part of RightScale’s State of the Cloud Report state that multi-cloud is their proposed strategy of choice. Taking on a technical transformation of this magnitude is of course no easy task, with architectural, regulatory, organisational and security considerations among the many hurdles needed to be overcome. But let’s focus on one aspect of adoption that is perhaps understated: the people perspective.

Training and enablement of existing staff is a critical component to any successful cloud strategy. Specialist consultants are a great way to accelerate the implementation of a cloud strategy, execute migrations and prove innovation, but the encompassing truth is that the right people largely exist in any adopting organisation today. Rackspace’s Cost of Cloud Expertise Report highlights a number of deficiencies with regard to skills enablement that are hampering organisations from truly unlocking the power of cloud technology:

  • Two thirds of IT professionals believe that greater innovation can be unlocked with the right expertise. Nearly half of these are stuck merely operating cloud environments due to lack of skills.
  • There’s a 50% longer close time to fill a cloud-engineer role vs a traditional IT role.
  • Nearly three quarters of IT decision makers perceive the lack of cloud skills in their business, results in organizational losses of revenue in the millions of Rands.
  • 40% of IT decision makers are struggling to keep pace with cloud evolution.
  • More than half of IT decision makers attest to increased ROI due to managed service adoption, with staff free to focus on business innovation.

Fortunately, public cloud vendors – AWS, Azure and GCP in particular – have made significant investments in making comprehensive and up-to-date training material free and ubiquitously available. Additionally, classroom training sessions and labs are regularly available from major vendors to reinforce concepts through experiential learning. Certification also provides a valuable yardstick to gauge capability, as well as create processes for decentralisation – a certain level of certification allows greater freedom for an individual to interact with cloud platforms in one or more environments.

Ultimately, organisations should ideally supplement these platforms as part of their people-enablement programmes, engineering bespoke training paths for departments to pull abstract concepts into the clarity of the organisation’s business domain.