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Cloud Computing: Zero to Hero in Under 10 Years

IT Skills and Salary Report: Cloud computing emerges as top global tech area

By Ryan Day

The shift to cloud platforms has been swift and impactful. The rapid rise and adoption by IT departments has been well documented in our annual IT Skills and Salary Report.

Even the mere mention of “cloud computing” is a new phenomenon, really only making a noticeable dent in the IT industry in the last three years.

To be more specific, the term “cloud” has appeared 117 times in the 10 years of our IT Skills and Salary Report—107 of those mentions have occurred since 2015.

Line graph depicting the frequency of the term "cloud" in the Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report

To further illustrate the rapid ascension from non-existence to one of the most important topics in the industry, here is a timeline of cloud computing’s growth according to our report:

Timeline depicting the growth of "cloud computing" according to the Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report

Cloud computing went from relative obscurity to the No. 1 area of interest worldwide in about eight years. But it didn’t happen without some resistance.

Initially, a shift to cloud services was met with a bevy of fears—the strongest being the belief that cloud computing would result in downsizing. In its early years, many in the industry regarded cloud computing as a form of outsourcing to companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google.

By 2015, those fears were mostly quelled. Cloud computing certainly had a major impact on IT organizations but not in the way many anticipated. There were no massive IT layoffs. Instead, new roles were created, and existing employees were presented with more opportunities to add new cloud-based skills.

Global Senior Portfolio Director Pete Vorenkamp, who oversees Cloud Computing for Global Knowledge, says that a shift to cloud is forcing the old legacy IT silos to fall and enabling a new more collaborative and agile IT.

“I would say that clients are also starting to accelerate their understanding of the fact that old IT roles need to morph into new cloud-type roles, which in many cases means wearing many hats and collaborating more,” Vorenkamp said.

Roles may have shifted, but few tech companies were forced to downsize. In fact, 25 percent of survey respondents in 2015 reported an organizational shift to cloud services resulted in the hiring of additional staff members.

Even with the increased focus on training and hiring cloud-ready professionals, the supply still hasn’t caught up to the demand. Management is desperate to add trained cloud employees—28 percent currently report a struggle to hire in the field. That number is up 6 percent from 2016. While skills shortages are hindering IT departments around the globe, this dire need for cloud experience presents a huge opportunity.

“Organizations have not been able to keep up in part because they are looking outside to hire talent, and the reality is we have a shortage of cloud-skilled IT resources,” Vorenkamp said. “This is why focusing on re-training existing in-house talent has to be a priority, too.”

IT professionals trained in cloud have the unique ability to fill gaps in organizations and are most often paid extremely well. Globally, cloud computing professionals have the fifth highest average salary. In the U.S. and Canada, cloud salary is first ($114,043) and edges out cybersecurity ($112,764) and Project Management ($95,878).

Thus, cloud training has been a hot commodity. Amazon Web Services offers cloud-based certifications that are rising in popularity and pay off financially. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate is the third highest-paying certification for 2017. In the U.S. and Canada, average salary for AWS-certified IT staff is 27.5 percent higher than the norm.

The popularity of AWS certifications has certainly risen quickly since their launch in 2013. With both associate and professional-level paths available, earning a top-paying AWS certification has become a goal for many IT professionals.

Those holding other cloud certifications, such as CompTIA Cloud Essentials+ (CEP), CompTIA Cloud+, and Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions, have significantly higher salaries than non-certified peers.

In total, individuals holding a cloud computing certification make about $12,000 more than the average certified IT professional. In the U.S. and Canada, the average salary of a cloud certified employee is $101,731.

 

Average Salary by Certification

  U.S. and Canada Total
  Mean Median Count Mean Median Count
Cloud Computing $101,731 $96,900 216 $80,193 $72,638 466
Total $90,512 $83,960 5,302 $67,997 $64,000 10,812

 

The cloud debate is practically over—both IT professionals and organizations are on the same page. In terms of cost and the ability to streamline operations, cloud is unrivaled. But the shortage of talent is palpable and businesses are scrambling to hire skilled candidates and train existing personnel. Keeping pace skills-wide with cloud innovation has been a challenge.

In 2011, Cushing Anderson of IDC projected that demand for cloud professionals would grow by 26 percent through 2015. That demand hasn’t fallen off as cloud computing tops the list of tech areas IT professionals expect their organizations to focus on in the coming year.

“Businesses used to be trying to understand if moving to the cloud made sense,” Vorenkamp said, “and now it’s no longer ‘if’ but ‘when and how.’”

Cloud computing surpassed cybersecurity as the top focal area of 2017. It is the quickest evolving trend in IT, and businesses are striving to stay in sync with the changing products and services.

 

How Global Knowledge Can Help

Critical skills gaps must be alleviated to advance cloud maturity. Our cloud portfolio creates learning paths for executives and professionals to acquire business knowledge and deep technical skills the tech community needs to maximize cloud solutions.

But building the appropriate skills isn’t a one-step process. In terms of cloud, there are several implications to consider:

  • Design and architectural responsibilities
  • Migration and integration of current environments
  • Management of cloud providers
  • Securing the cloud environment
  • Data management and analytics

Cloud computing adoption isn’t fully complete until all of these skills are addressed and executed.

Whether you’re a decision-maker, an architect or an engineer, we understand the main challenges of all cloud users.

For example, we know that cloud developers must have a strong understanding of cloud-native applications that are portable between multiple environments. The challenges facing cloud users in this area include security when programming or developing new applications, portability when having to create new or move legacy applications, and the need to stay current with new products and services.

Designing a curriculum that provides clear learning paths is the best way to deliver knowledge. We work closely with the key market players to provide authorized and current content.

To address marketplace skills gaps, we create unique content to meet all training needs. Many businesses are choosing cloud because the benefits are undeniable. When implemented correctly, cloud computing can result in:

  • Improvement in time to market
  • Increased company growth
  • Increased internal process efficiencies
  • Reduced IT costs
  • Reduced IT spend and maintenance costs

The cloud market is rapidly growing and showing no signs of slowing. New roles are being constantly created, which is causing traditional IT pros to re-train and those looking to be hired learn new skills.

There’s a reason why cloud’s rise has been so sudden—the skills implications are irrefutable. As is true with almost all processes in today’s IT departments, constant training and certification are crucial for success. The pace of technological innovation is difficult to keep up with. A strong and established learning path is necessary to meet all of your cloud goals.

 

Start your path

Thirty-nine percent of our survey respondents chose cloud computing as the top technical area they expect their organization to focus on this year. With such a widespread and global adoption, it’s important that cloud expertise isn’t limited to a select few.

Our Cloud Technology Associate course is a great way to bring everyone in your organization up to a baseline foundational level of understanding. The shift to cloud-based solutions is a key issue in the industry so finding and maintaining the appropriate skills is likely to be a major priority in the coming years.

Cloud computing is already a challenging hiring area. Educating your current staff will be critical to a successful move toward cloud-based operations.