For his cloud server Vietnam team at Concur, for example, Garner says he looked for technologists who had good experience with systems and storage, but also know coding.
What makes a cloud expert?
The specific cloud-related talents will vary by company, of course.
“We’ve grown through rapid acquisition and so have a unique mix of applications. We can’t just go to Azure and say we’re a 100% Microsoft shop or to Amazon and say give us your Java plug-in. We’ve got a mix of both,” he says.
He also picked strong communicators, people who are able to navigate around operational politics and get everyone moving toward a unified vision, Garner says.
What’s lacking at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital (WDH), which is building a private cloud using a vBlock system from Cisco, EMC and VMware, is a technical writer, says Scott Heffner, network operations manager at the Dover, N.H., medical center. Over the next year or so, such a role will become increasingly important, he says.
“Until you can document and review your processes, you can’t automate them — and that’s really what the cloud is supposed to be all about,” Heffner says.
WDH has no cloud professionals by name, he adds. However, the hospital is working on deepening specific skill sets across IT in support of the new, virtualized environment, Heffner adds.
At Supplies Network, fundamental knowledge of the virtualization platform, including the technology’s affect at the network and storage layers, is imperative to the company’s cloud initiative, Shipley says. “They need to understand how to segregate traffic and guarantee [that] data stays compliant as it moves across the virtual infrastructure,” he adds.
Also helpful is a basic server skill set that includes an understanding of server farm management, fault-tolerance, redundancy and high availability, says Bharat Rao, an associate professor of technology management at Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly).
But a higher-level understanding of the business is an imperative, too, he adds.
“From the business side, being able to manipulate large data sets and do analytics, visual analysis and create reports are especially important,” say Rao, who ran a one-day cloud computing workshop at the university, which is now planning a full executive-level course on cloud computing for business professionals.
Accenture’s Harris agrees. “From a professional characteristics point of view, IT folks will need to be more closely aligned with the business and place greater emphasis on the intersection of business knowledge and understanding how various services work and how you use those services to better enable the business,” he says.
But with a continued focus on day-to-day operations at many companies, “those are rare skills today, to be honest,” Harris adds.
Increased exposure to cloud principles is a must. As Rao says, “Many IT professionals out there already have the basic set of skills in place that they’ll need for cloud computing, so it’ll mainly be a question of increasing awareness and getting involved in sample scenarios.”