How to prepare the IT workforce for cloud and mobility    

CompTIA is working to identify the key skills that staff responsible for cloud and mobility implementations need

Cloud and mobility have been ubiquitous subjects in the IT industry in recent years, with a spate of associated new jobs and increasing reliance on them to drive business. Despite this, an element of ambiguity in how best to utilise them in business remains.

“Mobility is so full of whitewater; we need standards around all aspects.” – Google

Across the industry, companies have been struggling to cope with the moving of software data into the cloud and a proliferation of remote devices with varying degrees of access to this. They require assurances that IT staff are suitably qualified for these new challenges, but don’t necessarily know what these staff should be expected to know. 

With growing calls among major industry players for a set of supplier-neutral industry standards, the need for recognised certification was clear.

CompTIA – with a 20-plus year track record of developing IT certifications – worked closely with the IT industry to identify the key skills that staff responsible for cloud and mobility implementations must have.

Security issues, for example, were unanimously agreed to be the primary challenge. Many organisation struggle to find the right staff who understand the weight of specific security issues and cloud infrastructure needs on networks, what the impact is across the whole organisation, and how they can pre-empt these.

There was a major need for a set of specific security skills to address the ever-changing threat from cyber attacks. These included a requirement for staff to know how to set different data access settings for different staff groups.

IT businesses want staff to be capable of spotting vulnerabilities and threats long before they cause damage. Can their network administrators note unusual volumes of mobile device traffic going out over FTP to one particular unknown location and take appropriate action, for example? With no concrete staff credentials to fall back on, this is the kind of question businesses have not been able to answer with a resounding "yes".

Employees need a greater understanding not just of software compatibility across a network – remotely hosted or otherwise – but the full range of hardware in use too. Each device type has its own implications for security, and the administrator should know the best configuration to improve the security of data on each mobile device across the network.

CompTIA's industry analysis was not just related to specific job roles within organisations – we also picked up views of the whole cloud and mobility space and where businesses believe the industry is heading.

A strong consensus in the job market is that traditional knowledge and skills in networking and systems are migrating to include aspects of cloud and mobility. Being technically competent with a blend of skills is becoming a necessity, rather than a differentiator. Crucially, this means that the need to understand planning, implementing and managing cloud solutions will extend beyond just the core network administrator roles across the whole organisation.

Even the traditional IT professional needs to become cloud-savvy. The work environment is changing within these organisations, and the traditional networking or technical sales professional must learn new skills to support the overall objectives of the business.

Businesses are clearly struggling to find these skills. The rapid developments of areas such as the cloud and mobility have created uncertainty among established professionals. Even where the skills exist, businesses do not always know how to spot them, or even what to look for. This is why there has been an overwhelming call for an industry certification to validate skills in these new areas.

John McGlinchey (pictured) is senior vice-president, global business development, of CompTIA, the global IT trade association. CompTIA recently launched the Cloud+and Mobility+certifications, which it has developed over the past year in consultation with the IT industry.

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