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Navigating the Hybrid, Multi-Cloud era: 8 in-demand skills to drive business success – ET CIO : Aajtak.org.in

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By Usha Srikanth and Anuj Malhotra

The pandemic accelerated the Digital Transformation of virtually every Enterprise as they pressingly looked at ways of getting to their customers in a touchless remote world. This customer outreach had to be rapid, differentiated, responsive, and more importantly resilient and quickly scalable to handle demand spikes.

With time running out, most enterprises had to look at quick off-the-shelf, on-the-cloud solutions which could be rapidly implemented, and could leverage their existing systems and data running on a private or public cloud. It led them perforce to Hybrid Multicloud situations at a pace they had never imagined.

Most corporations did not have in-house Hybrid Multicloud skills that they needed, nor had the time to develop them from the scratch. Now, multiply this problem cross-industry, cross-continent and you suddenly do not have enough skills in the world to solve simultaneous Global Digital Transformations.

Listed below are key skills we see as “need of the hour” to drive transformation in organizations powered by Hybrid MultiCloud. While we focus on Cloud, for any Digital Transformation to be successful, one would also need to focus on concomitant technology shifts in the Enterprise Applications, Customer Transformation Technologies, and Data Transformation technologies.

Accelerating skills transformation to unlock the Hybrid Multicloud value

Hybrid Multicloud has accelerated with the convergence of exponential technologies. Studies show that the value derived from a full hybrid, multicloud platform technology and operating model at scale is 2.5 times compared to a single platform, single cloud vendor approach.

Some of the key hybrid multicloud skills that enterpises should focus on to drive this benefit are:

  • Hybrid Cloud Modernization: The next chapter of the cloud will be written by hybrid multicloud transformation. Organizations are embracing mass-migration strategies to move existing workloads to the cloud. As we move from outside-in to inside-out transformation, some of the in-demand skills are centered around cloud transformation roadmap, architecture-driven modernization, mainframe modernization, cloud data modernization, APIfication, and transforming monoliths to microservices. As hybrid multicloud architectures become the foundation of the platform economy, the demand for cloud skills across hyperscalers is essential.
  • Cloud-native Development: Cloud-native development models designed with loosely coupled microservices, packaged in containers, with their workloads managed by Kubernetes, deployed on scalable cloud infrastructure through Terraform, and managed through a DevOps pipeline will rebuild businesses around customer experience. Serverless computing skills will breathe new life into the development of cloud-native applications. Demand for full-stack cloud practitioners and cloud integration architects skilled in python, ruby, MEAN stack, React JS, neo4j, Redis and PostgreSQL are gaining momentum.
  • Automated Multicloud Orchestration and Management: Hyper-automation augmented by AI is transforming Multicloud Orchestration and Management. Developers with the ‘Build once, Deploy anywhere, Manage consistently’ philosophy will push interoperability to the next level, increasing the prevalence of Software-defined Infrastructure as code. Infrastructure Automation, Cloud Platform Managed Services, Cloud Operations Management, DevSecOps, Site Reliability Engineering, Observability, and Chaos Engineering practices will redefine multicloud management.
  • Cloud Platform Engineering: Platform engineering will deliver reliability and resiliency empowering practitioners on a culture of agile innovation. Cloud Platform Design, Landing Zone and Target Operating Model, Cloud Brokerage, AIOps and DataOps, Storage, Networking, Virtualization, and AI-enabled continuous improvement of cloud platform infrastructure will be the key skills required to run and manage hybrid multicloud platforms.
  • Cloud Security: An integrated approach towards Cloud security from assessment to implementation improves cybersecurity posture for complex hybrid multicloud solutions. Establishing a centralized platform for multicloud security, building skills around identity and access management, data encryption, threat management, penetration testing, and endpoint security are more important than ever with ever-increasing cyber-attacks. Zero-trust security, Secure Access Service Edge, Data Loss Prevention, Cloud Public Key Infrastructure, Security orchestration, automation, and response capabilities are critical to defending enterprise infrastructure and data. Additionally threat simulation, detection, and mitigation as part of services offered by Cyber Ranges is an interesting aspect for developing skills.
  • Open-source cloud computing: Open source is the foundation of a hybrid cloud environment. Applications born in the cloud incorporate an amalgamation of open-source technologies and cloud tooling to enable building, deploying, and running applications with distributed architectures at scale. Developers and architects will require LINUX, Kubernetes, Istio, open-source databases, and open-source cloud infrastructure skills.
  • AI / ML on the cloud: Cloud unlocks the power of AI / ML to turn data into a competitive advantage. AI lifecycle management platform, model building, pattern recognition, predictive intelligence, neural network architecture, recommendation engine, AIOps and ModelOps, reinforcement learning, and computer vision skills are required towards the journey to a cognitive enterprise. Innovative ISVs and SaaS service providers are harnessing AI / ML capabilities to expedite cloud transformation.
  • Industry cloud: Industry clouds are collections of customized services and tools optimized for specific industries. Business model reinvention coupled with regulatory and compliance requirements, core system modernization, automation and security orchestration are driving industry cloud adoption. Complex cloud program governance skills are required to collaborate among clients, ISVs and SaaS providers. Cloud practitioners need to enhance their industry skills to stay relevant.

The half-life of skills in this area is shrinking considerably so most enterprises will continue to play catch-up, and sometimes lose the game to keep pace with the technology variety and depth required in-house. Therefore, while businesses focus on developing their own talent across critical areas, they should actively look to leverage the technical depth and industry expertise in consulting partner organizations to ensure they stay ahead in their digital transformation journey.The authors are VP & Sr. Partner, Sectors- IBM India Client Innovation Centre and VP & Sr. Partner, Growth Platforms – IBM India Client Innovation Centre

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