By Sandeep Shilawat, Vice President, Cloud and Edge Computing

If asked to offer one piece of advice to IT managers about managing their cloud workforce, I would answer in a single word: upskilling.

Here’s why:

First, the IT field is, arguably, changing faster than any other. So why would any IT leader not prioritize giving their people the skills they need to be effective? Amazon estimated, early in the cloud adoption days, that there was a jump of more than 400% in enterprise infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) usage. In an ideal world, there would have been a corresponding increase in IaaS training for IT professionals. (Spoiler alert: There wasn’t.) And that is bad. Because this is not plug-and-play technology, and trainings like those provided by the major cloud vendors are essential. They are not a perk, they are a must.

Sandeep Shilawat
Sandeep Shilawat, Vice President, Cloud and Edge Computing

Second, the shared security model embraced by most cloud vendors places disproportionate risk on customers. That is you! Think about it this way: If I pay you to build me a car and then I damage it, who’s left to deal with the consequences? Me! I’ve caused the damage, I may have no car, and I’ve lost money. And to get a new car, guess what: I have to pay you again. Now, consider you have built me a car and you train me on how to drive it, how to use every feature and how to operate it safely. You will train my staff, too, and provide refresher courses periodically. There is no guarantee I won’t damage or even crash it, but the likelihood is significantly lower. You, the cloud vendor, are helping me, the customer, avoid catastrophe. In this example, the value of vendor-provided trainings is clear.

Third, the ubiquity of hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments means there is inherent complexity in every organization’s overall cloud landscape. Complexity is not always bad, but it does require constant, high-quality training. Vendors are sometimes best positioned to offer trainings on the intricacies of their products. Research firms are sometimes best positioned to point out those vendors’ weaknesses against the backdrop of emerging trends. Peers are sometimes best positioned to talk about the interplay between vendor offerings. IT leaders should identify and invest in the trainings their people need to be successful in these increasingly complex environments – because the complexity is only going to continue to rise.

Fourth, there is also the essential security consideration. Within IT and especially within the cloud domain, a skill gap almost inevitably leads to a security gap. Skills training is an insurance policy. It is not a guarantee that nothing will happen, but it significantly reduces the exposure risk. To that end, cloud security is about more than configurations for each vendor’s offerings, it is about helping security professionals access training on the basics of cloud adoption, costs, monitoring, obstacles and more. This way, they can architect solutions that keep your cloud installations safe.

Fifth and finally, upskilling your people is not just the right thing but the must thing to do. In a marketplace as competitive as IT, retaining talent is always going to be a challenge. There is perhaps no better way for leaders to signal commitment and incentive to their people than giving them the tools to be continually more effective in their jobs – and to advance. If you are worried about retention, upskilling can help, not to mention the competitive advantage of being able to present a superbly credentialed team to current and potential customers. On top of all of that, we in the contracting business have a responsibility to bring the latest and greatest technology expertise to our customers. It is why we are in business in the first place!

There has never been a better or more exciting time to be a cloud IT professional. And there is never going to be a better investment – of time or money – than the upskilling necessary to keep your people engaged and effective. At ManTech, we see upskilling as foundational to our company, critical to our business, essential for our people and an indispensable part of our obligation to be true mission partners to our customers. This is why we have invested heavily in cloud trainings and built a Cloud Degree program in our award-winning ManTech Technical University. Today, as a result, we have hundreds of cloud-certified professionals in our workforce.

For further information, contact Sandeep Shilawat: [email protected].