Do cloud developers need to go back to school?

I spent this weekend writing up some opinions from a bunch of academics and recruitment specialists on the subject of whether cloud computing focused developers have enough skills to cut the new (cloudy) mustard.

It seems that opinions are mostly in line with a consensus which agrees that we have a skills issue to address. New languages and new software methodologies are at work inside the cloud paradigm and not every programmer has the skills base to cope.

The jump to cloud (and the news skills it will require) has even been likened to the new skills shift that programmers have had to embrace to cope with the new world of mobile apps.

While I spoke to headhunters and university professors for my initial analysis, I also had conversations with one vendor who had some worthy thoughts to add.


Sarah Sandbrook, is HR director, for T-Systems Limited, a cloud solutions provider and Deutsche Telekom’s corporate customer arm – she argues, “Is the IT recruitment industry facing a skills gap? Yes, to a degree. Have organisations and cloud solutions providers fully grasped what the new skill sets will be? No, not yet. Everyone is talking about the technology, but there has been a fundamental shift in the way the cloud is viewed and used and we haven’t begun to feel the ripples yet. It is highly unlikely that the people I recruit three years from now will have the same skills profile as those people I recruit today.”

Sandbrook says that in her position as a recruiter for a cloud solutions provider, she needs to cut through the new vocabularies of the cloud and identify how much is hype and how much requires new skills.

“Technology evolves and this current skills gap fits a pattern that we have seen repeated over the years. Ten years ago the big shortage was in Java skills. There is currently a big demand and a premium for programmers, coders and software application developers with the latest technical knowledge, but that occurs when there is a step change in technology (even a fundamental one). It’s not a unique cloud phenomenon. T-Systems is not just meeting the challenge through recruitment, we are also up-skilling by training the staff we have with us today,” said Sandbrook.

How should we “interpret” the cloud?

“The most significant and fundamental shift in skill requirements will be driven by the stratospheric spread of the cloud’s interpretation. The focus is moving from hardware and infrastructure issues to applications and software-as-a-service, taking cloud into new areas. The customer-supplier relationship is changing resulting in a redistribution of roles between IT outsourcers and internal IT departments. Cloud solution providers will still need traditional IT skills such as, architecture, test and development, but they will also need business analysis, demand management and vendor management skills. Cloud is changing IT’s role in the corporate world order.”