5 Simple Steps To Increase The Cloud Talent Pool

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review’s print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Heidi Bretz, director of alliances at the OpenStack Foundation, explains how to smash through the roadblock caused by a lack of in-house cloud expertise

Cloud technology is maturing and enterprise cloud deployments are increasing at such a rapid pace that the talent pool is struggling to keep up. That’s what we call a good problem to have, but it’s a problem nonetheless.

The OpenStack Foundation’s latest user survey revealed a huge spike in organisations embracing cloud environments, with 60 percent of OpenStack deployments in production compared to just 32 percent reported in our survey two years ago. The survey also highlighted extremely high rates of adoption of OpenStack’s core services, indicating a bright future for enterprise deployments.


The footprint of open source public and private clouds is growing fast, due in large part to the flexibility that open source software enables. Open standards allow companies to run a wide range of compute, storage and networking gear to deploy agile cloud infrastructures. They also enable companies to bring new technologies into production quickly and efficiently – key to keeping up with rapid changes in the marketplace and customer demand.

That’s the good news.

Here’s the challenge: The talent pool can’t keep up.

Organisations want application development and deployment to be nimble and quick, but they are facing a roadblock due to a lack of in-house cloud expertise—all while competitors are nipping at their heels.

There’s a clear need for cloud-related skills and technical know-how for managing distributed systems. Hiring managers are seeking employees with cloud certification and proven credentials, but there are only so many qualified applicants to go around. Whether you’re an organisation ready to embark on a new cloud deployment or an IT professional ready to embrace new cloud development and deployment skills, here are four important things to keep in mind:

cloud1. Your company culture must be cloud-ready

Companies sometimes think of cloud deployments in terms of barriers to adoption. Yet, it’s rarely a technology barrier holding you back. Companies that have a successful cloud infrastructure in place have adjusted their culture in terms of how operations work and how developers are allowed to experiment and engage with different parts of the organisation. Indeed, one of the biggest barriers to getting open source technology even more widely adopted is explaining to companies whom they need to hire, what they need to do internally and/or what processes they need to outsource. These issues are not all technological, and often involve company culture.

2. Investment in staff is key

Open source cloud expertise continues to pay off, with OpenStack jobs consistently paying higher wages and employers doubling the number of job postings over the past year. The average OpenStack Cloud Engineer salaries for job postings in the US are 36 percent higher than average Cloud Engineer salaries, with OpenStack Cloud Engineers earning $133,000 and Cloud Engineers earning $98,000.

It’s a great time for employees to ramp up OpenStack skills and make themselves more marketable to current employers, and organisations will do themselves and their employees well by investing in such training. Just be aware that once you get your hands on an OpenStack guru, or invest in training and certifying current employees, you must take steps to retain these employees, as the tight market for OpenStack talent will continue to make competing employment offers abundant and attractive.

3. OpenStack training and certification opens up new opportunities

For IT staff with limited OpenStack exposure, the logical next step may be additional OpenStack training. You can find a wealth of classes offered worldwide by qualified OpenStack training partners in the OpenStack Marketplace. In addition, the OpenStack Foundation has developed the Certified OpenStack Administrator program, which offers a career-path-based Certification for OpenStack professionals.

The certification is performance-based and tests the baseline skills of a person with at least six months of OpenStack experience who provides day-to-day operation and management of an OpenStack cloud. The OpenStack Foundation will offer its first professional certification for OpenStack administrators starting in the second quarter of 2016. The Certified OpenStack Administrator (COA) test will be administered online. Click here to learn about the OpenStack job tasks and capabilities that will be tested for this certification.

There are also many qualified OpenStack training partners that offer their own advanced or product-specific certifications. You can find out the availability of OpenStack training courses worldwide at the OpenStack Marketplace.

4. Community is vital

One of the huge benefits of OpenStack is the large, supportive community. Organisations have opportunities to attend local user groups, events, get questions answered online and follow along with other users and development projects via the OpenStack Activity Board. The OpenStack community wants to see everyone succeed and will support your engineering and operations team along the way – with development, implementation and cloud management resources.

5. Third-party support can help fill the OpenStack gap

If you are struggling to take advantage of the full benefits of your cloud deployment, you don’t have to tackle it alone. There are many partners that can help you plan, build and manage a cloud environment, whether you want to develop a cloud roadmap, innovate faster, scale your existing infrastructure or reduce costs. Companies in the OpenStack ecosystem can step in, even if only on a temporary basis, to fill an IT expertise gap and get you where you want to be. This can be a great way for current IT members to shadow qualified OpenStack professionals and get on-the-job training to increase their own in-house value.

The bottom line: We want to eliminate barriers to open source cloud adoption, grow the community, create more cloud technology experts and help organisations everywhere take advantage of the best of what cloud technology has to offer.

Think you know all there is to know about Open Source technology? Try our quiz!