Cloud & Virtualisation

How to build a cloud native skills strategy

Understanding your team's situation relative to the modern cloud native paradigm is a good starting point.

Emerge Stronger

Is your team familiar with the latest Kubernetes developments? Are they well versed in best practices for Ansible? Or are you worried you’re lagging behind in cloud native skills?

For teams still working in the “old” way – building databases, applications or infrastructure in siloes – the realisation that you have to move to a cloud native way of doing things can be daunting. You have a team that is highly skilled in legacy skills and ways of working, but now the business needs you to transition them all to the cloud native way of working. Preferably by the end of next week.

It’s likely that the team is highly valued. They have knowledge of your organisation’s products or services, clients and competitive landscape. You obviously don’t want to lose all of this, or the individuals. The problem is you just don’t have the capabilities to take advantage of the speed-to-market that cloud native provides and the business needs.

So how should you go about building the cloud native skills you need?

Understanding your team's situation relative to the modern cloud native paradigm is a good starting point.

Moving from building applications with siloed technologies to building solutions with cloud native technologies constitutes a big skills change for software developers. Rather than specialising in the front end or back end of an application, cloud native engineers are able to design, code, test and automate with cloud native technologies.

This change doesn’t mean we don’t need software developers any more. Obviously there is still plenty of tech built this way that needs developing and maintaining.

The challenge is that without talented people that can understand and apply cloud native technologies and ways of working, the wider business can't benefit from the flexibility, scalability, speed-to-market and competitive advantage that cloud native offers.

Reaching this nirvana is going to involve a considerable upskilling programme for some organisations, and the prospect of finding or building new talent for others.

As always, a skills assessment of what you have now is a good place to start. Then you need to identify the learning pathways required to move you along the scale. Here are a few scenarios that might help promote some thoughts about your cloud native skills strategy:

Scenario 1: You’re (mostly) sorted

You are confident that you have the skills you need but can see a few gaps starting to emerge as technologies advance.

Skills action plan: Keep the team up to date with the latest training in Kubernetes or use online resources such as QA’s Cloud Academy to encourage self-paced study.

Scenario 2: Legacy gurus

Your team is great with legacy systems, but you're not certain they can readily absorb and apply new technical skills, such as microservices and containerisation.

Skills action plan: Upskill where possible, but it’s definitely time to look outside of the team for additional resources or skills to populate your projects with cloud stack engineers and cloud native engineers. These could be new FTE hires, or temporary, project-based resources such as our own early careers cloud native tech specialists.

Scenario 3: Overspecialisation

Your team's overall skill set is too narrow and not diversified. For example, maybe you have too many software development experts and not enough full-stack engineers.

Skills action plan: Understand who has the aptitude and enthusiasm for moving to the roles you are missing. Look outside of your team across the wider organisation too. Upskill or reskill these individuals with training that covers Kubernetes, Ansible and so on.

Scenario 4: Misalignment

You've already invested in cloud native technologies and your team is trained up, but they lack real understanding in getting all the tools and technologies to work well together to advance your organisation's goals.

Skills action plan: Invest training time in budget on architecture principles and patterns, such as hybrid cloud or cloud native design courses.

A helping hand

Whichever of these scenarios you find yourself in, it is likely that QA can help. Our team of cloud learning specialists and industry gurus are focused on making sure that our cloud portfolio continues to provide our clients with the most up-to-date skills.

If you have concluded that you need to upskill your existing team, we've just launched a new suite of courses that will help build a solid foundation of cloud native skills. These include:

And if it's people you need, we can help you rapidly scale your tech resources with our Squad-as-a-Service (SQaaS) solution: early careers tech specialists trained in the latest in-demand skills and available to boost in-house teams with placements of up to two years. Our first cohort of cloud native specialists are ready to roll. Alternatively, we offer a Level 4 DevOps Apprenticeship programme which will allow you to build your own cloud-first talent base.

And finally, if your team needs to sharpen your skills in any other areas, there are more than 100,000 hours of relevant, up-to-date courses on QA’s digital learning platform Cloud Academy.

If you know you have a cloud native skills problem, or you have been asked to explore “cloud native” but don’t really know where to start, then get in touch. One of our skills consultants will be happy to help.

Find out more about QA’s Cloud Native skills courses

This is one in a series of blog posts on digital transformation. In previous posts, we looked at how to emerge stronger from this crisis, how to lead an L&D revolution, how IT leaders can develop tech talent, how to win the war for tech talent, why digital capability assessments matter, why it’s time to change our attitude to aptitude tests, three teams that drive successful digital transformations, why understanding digital tech is now everyone’s job, why Squad-as-a-Service is a faster, risk-free way to boost tech talent, and the value of virtual training for team building.

Don’t miss them.

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