How to develop a cloud-ready skillset in 2022

By Drew Firment, VP of Enterprise Strategies at Pluralsight.

This year is set to be a period of rapid growth for the cloud industry, with research from the Cloud Industry Forum revealing that cloud adoption in the UK now stands at 88%, with 67% of users expecting to increase their adoption in the coming year. When it comes to the cloud, it’s no longer the big eating the small — but the fast eating the slow.

The increased reliance on cloud computing means that organisations across all industries need to invest in refining their cloud strategies. This will support digital transformation initiatives, aid cloud-migration projects and help growth as business demands evolve. And in this ‘cloud boom’ era, there is a huge opportunity for firms to adopt agile practices that make the most of the available technology to react quickly to customer needs.

However, this movement to the cloud has exposed a lack of available talent, which when combined with the complexity of learning cloud technologies has opened up a large skills gap which is becoming the biggest challenge in technology right now.

Starting to close the cloud skills gap

The move to remote working accelerated the pace of cloud adoption, but according to Gartner, the current IT skills shortage is foiling the adoption of the cloud amongst other technologies. This results in a number of problems including frustrating bottlenecks, delays in product shipping, and the risk of key strategic initiatives being abandoned altogether. Without dedicated upskilling efforts, this cloud skills gap will only grow as technology develops.

In 2022, organisations that have not yet explored the benefits of cloud migration will likely realise the economic imperative of doing so. Research from McKinsey suggests that there is around $1 trillion from cloud computing up for grabs across Fortune 500 companies. Those that recognize this opportunity and adopt cloud first will reap the majority of those financial benefits.

What is most likely happening in companies across the world is that engineers and developers are learning about the cloud while they are migrating there. This “learn-as-you-go” approach means on-demand training becomes mission critical in allowing developers to upskill at specific points on their projects.

Though facing the cloud skills gap can seem overwhelming for any organisation, wherever they are in their cloud journey, it is important to develop programmatic solutions that help your technologists build their skills one step at a time.

Must-have cloud skills for 2022

Cloud technologies are constantly evolving. This means organisations and technologists should always keep an eye on the future. In 2022, there will be more emphasis on composable applications and architectural principles due to the agility they enable. In addition, since API development is at the heart of composability, API development and cloud services like Amazon API Gateway and AWS AppSync, both used for API development, will grow in popularity.

It isn’t rocket science, but businesses need to assess where they are on their cloud journeys. For many businesses that adapted to more digital operations over the past two years, 2022 will be less about cloud implementation and more about honing their cloud maturity. For others, nailing the fundamentals remains critical.

Many organisations are still seeking developers that have mastered the basics of cloud computing so that their cloud infrastructure is secure and stable. For those developers wanting to learn more about the cloud, instead of focusing on trendier capabilities such as deploying machine learning and artificial intelligence in the cloud, the first priority should be mastering the principles of a well-architected framework. Here, required skills would include multiple availability zones, auto-scaling, minimal blast radius, and least privileges.

As a company and its technologists get further along in their cloud maturity, it becomes important to take a more proactive approach to a cloud strategy. This means developing a clear approach to cloud security, governance and cost management, migration, containers, and configuration and automation. These higher-level considerations for the cloud will ensure a holistic approach to the cloud.

Upskilling in the Cloud

Mastering these skills starts with a few practical steps. The first is getting some (or more) cloud certifications. Industry recognised certifications from one of the major cloud providers are becoming an industry standard for validating cloud computing skills. In fact, many companies now list cloud certifications as a requirement in job descriptions. Aspiring cloud professionals should look into the certification requirements for professional roles to see which are most in-demand.

At present, the most impactful certification tends to be the associate-level AWS Solutions Architect certification. This certification requires an understanding of both cloud services and architecture principles.

That said, cloud learning does not stop with acquiring certifications. Technologists wanting to hone their cloud skills should develop the habit of on-the-job, daily learning in order to keep pace with the ever-changing world of cloud.

Online courses in cloud fundamentals, AWS concepts, and mastering AWS architecture are great resources for continuous cloud learning. As mentioned, it is a reality for many developers and IT professionals that cloud learning will happen concurrently with cloud migration and adoption. These on-demand courses can be essential in helping technologists brush up on their cloud skills so that they can implement their new knowledge immediately.

Some of the best cloud learning opportunities implement hands-on learning experiences—like cloud sandboxes and learning labs—to let technologists learn by doing. These tactile learning experiences can be incredibly powerful for building skills, and can also help with troubleshooting and problem solving in different cloud scenarios. In fact, according to the 2022 Tech Forecast, online cloud learning labs saw a 1,185% increase, demonstrating a growing and essential need for risk-free practice in the cloud.

Ultimately, organisations need to be willing to support the upskilling and reskilling of their technologists if they want to win at cloud computing. And individuals cannot be expected to close their cloud skills gap if they have no institutional support to do so. Companies must provide access to learning resources, allot dedicated time for employee upskilling, and tie learning and development to their business outcomes. Ensuring that your organisation invests in tech skills development, especially within the cloud, will be an essential practice in 2022 and beyond.


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