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Skills gaps slow business cloud adoption, research shows

Public cloud provider Skytap highlights the toll skills gaps take on cloud migrations

Skills gaps are holding up adoption of cloud services in some companies, according to research from US-based public cloud provider Skytap.

Skytap surveyed 450 C-suite employees and directors across the UK, US and Canada about using cloud as part of their organisation’s wider digitisation efforts.

Two-thirds of UK respondents said they plan to migrate in the next two years, but more than 80% felt apprehensive about doing so, and 54% said their business had an “internal resistance to change”.

Skytap CTO Brad Schick said such resistance is often the result of a skills gap in the organisation.

“There is a lack of knowledge about the cloud, so if you’re not familiar with something, it’s normal to be hesitant or unsure about it. Also, there’s a fear that people might lose their jobs and the cloud might make certain functions unnecessary in the future,” he said.

“If you are a team that’s currently managing your own gear and your own [on-premise] VMware deployment and you’re faced with those applications moving off that gear, and into the cloud, there’s a natural concern that it might affect you.”

Companies often feel under pressure to rewrite applications before moving them to the cloud, which is often where the lack of skills becomes apparent, but this need not be a barrier to migration, he added.

“Businesses are in some cases choosing a path to the cloud that is unnecessarily complicated. So they’re saying, ‘I’ve got an existing application and I want to get to the cloud’,” he said.

“If you listen to what Amazon, [Microsoft] Azure or Google are going to say, they’re going to focus a lot on refactoring and rewriting that application.

“If it’s a non-trivial application and has components that aren’t cloud-compatible, they’re typically going to say you’re going to need to move those or change them,” he added.

Recruiting people with skills and experience of managing a cloud migration emerged as a top priority for 55% of respondents to the Skytap poll, with the firm’s general manager, Chris Griggs, citing this as an area of increasing difficulty for companies.

“What’s happened over the past two or three years [is] larger enterprises have only [migrated] ... all the new applications that have been built for the cloud. Therefore, the people they’ve needed are cloud-savvy and understand some of the hyper-cloud providers and DevOps,” he said.

“Organisations have seen the benefits, but a lot of large organisations are looking to move some of their traditional applications that have traditionally run on premise into the cloud, [and] that needs a slightly different skillset.

“It needs people who understand those existing business applications, it needs a strong enterprise architecture background, coupled with a good knowledge of the cloud and some of those modern technologies,” he added.

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