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Don't overlook cloud computing training

Cloud computing offers many benefits, but companies making the transition should be aware of the time and expense required for education and training.

The potential cost savings, flexibility and scalability continue to attract enterprises to cloud computing. But the cloud also represents a paradigm shift for users, who need to learn services, tools and processes.

On top of that, many companies prefer -- or are considering -- a move to multi-cloud environments, containers and microservices. All of this points to a pressing need for cloud computing training, certifications and courses of instructions.

The need to stay relevant

Companies that move to the cloud typically conduct extensive cost analysis, but they rarely include training in those plans, said Maribel Lopez, principal analyst at Lopez Research. And with multi-cloud deployments, that training becomes more important.

"It was one thing when a company adopted AWS and that required a specific set of skills," Lopez said. "But now, with multi-cloud, AWS, Azure and Google all have different ways of how you set up servers, storage, compute and so many other things."

One company trying to stay ahead of the learning curve is HealthEquity, a health savings and benefits provider in Draper, Utah. The company has adopted more microservices and cloud computing features, partly to help attract and retain talent, said Becky Whitehead, HealthEquity's vice president of software development and delivery.

"Engineers want to stay and current and not spend all their time maintaining legacy code," Whitehead said at the Pluralsight Live conference. While most of HealthEquity's platforms are still on premises, the company plans to move more of its infrastructure to the cloud, and it uses Pluralsight's online learning tools to help with the transition.

HealthEquity initially used courseware to augment employees' skills only if they requested it. Today, its employees are automatically given a Pluralsight license for education and to help expand their career path, Whitehead said.

Among the emerging enterprise technologies, OpenShift and other Kubernetes-based services present an important cloud computing training opportunity, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

Skills are becoming a competitive advantage with everything moving to the cloud.
Bonita StewartVice president of global partnerships at Google

"This is of critical importance to many, if not most, enterprises because of the critical role that container technologies play in IT modernization efforts and cloud-native application development," King said.

Leaders from all three major cloud vendors -- AWS, Microsoft and Google -- spoke onstage at the Pluralsight conference about the importance of getting IT personnel up to speed with cloud computing training. Erin Rifkin, general manager of content and learning in developer relations at Microsoft, told the attendees that the tech giant tries to think 10 steps ahead of where technology is going and offer learning tools to anticipate that.

App development is different in the cloud than building an app on premises; it requires a different -- and evolving -- skill set.

"Technical skilling is really critical," Rifkin said. "At the same time, the shelf life for those skills is about five years. There are skills in demand now that didn't exist three years ago."

Solving the skills gap pays off

Enterprises see it as a point of distinction to have a workforce that's current on the latest technologies, said Bonita Stewart, vice president of global partnerships at Google, who also spoke at the conference. Many companies are challenged by a skills gap in myriad aspects of modern IT, including compute, storage, networking, applications and machine learning.

"Skills are becoming a competitive advantage with everything moving to the cloud," Stewart said.

Google, AWS and Microsoft all offer a range certifications and cloud computing training programs for their platforms. The goal is to get companies that aren't as familiar with cloud to be comfortable with modern techniques and practices, like releasing code several times a day and using technology at scale.

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