Getty Images

CIOs must support multi-cloud training for network engineers

Many enterprises are shifting to multi-cloud environments, but they must enable proper training. Here's how they can be proactive and support multi-cloud network training.

By 2024, approximately 80% of enterprises will have multi-cloud environments. These organizations will lean heavily on their network infrastructure and operations teams for everything from provisioning and managing connectivity into multiple clouds to managing IP address space and DNS across those clouds.

However, it's challenging for enterprises to find network engineers with cloud networking skills. Only 37% of IT organizations report no difficulty with hiring and retaining cloud networking experts, according to new research from Enterprise Management Associates (EMA).

The study surveyed 351 IT stakeholders about their multi-cloud networking strategies. It also found that 28% of organizations consider skills gaps one of their biggest challenges when building and managing a multi-cloud network.

The high burden of network engineering training

Many organizations have a core team of traditional network engineers who have spent their careers getting certified on network hardware. Some CIOs might assume those engineers are surely able to develop cloud skills in their free time. Unfortunately, a multi-cloud world adds new layers of complexity that weren't there with on-premises networks.

"There is a learning curve for a network engineer to go to cloud. There are different concepts, and everything is virtual," said a senior network engineer at a large university hospital system and medical school. "Every cloud provider uses different names for the same service or device, and some colleagues don't feel like putting in the time to learn those concepts. That's a big problem."

"The way the cloud has sped up and with software-defined everything, just staying on top of things is a nightmare," said a network architecture executive at a $1 billion bank. "Even when you wrap your head around one of the cloud providers, new things come out, or they change. It's a full-time job just to be aware of the various services. I studied Azure for four hours a day for a year, and that was just for one cloud provider. Most people can't do that, so you have fewer people who understand multi-cloud enough."

In other words, network engineers want to upgrade their skills. But cloud providers have proprietary approaches to networking, and that presents a steep hill to climb. Engineers need support, resources and -- perhaps, most importantly -- time.

EMA recommended IT organizations allocate resources to train their existing networking professionals on cloud networking technology. In fact, EMA's research found that 90% of multi-cloud enterprises do this at least to some extent today. Organizations that report greater success with their multi-cloud strategy were more likely to have a training program in place.

A leadership to-do list

CIOs can help network infrastructure and operations teams develop cloud expertise by implementing the following strategies:

  • Develop a training program that identifies which classes and certifications engineers should acquire.
  • Provide financial support to engineers to cover the costs of training.
  • Encourage engineers to step away from their day-to-day network responsibilities to acquire proper training.

Many cloud training options are available. For instance, leading cloud providers offer certifications on their proprietary environments, and network engineers often tell EMA these trainings are valuable. Some third-party organizations, such as CompTIA, have launched basic cloud networking training programs. Networking vendors, such as Aviatrix and Juniper Networks, also offer training and certifications specifically for multi-cloud networking.

The payoff for multi-cloud network training

Organizations that take the time and resources to train personnel are more successful with multi-cloud networking. EMA's research also found several specific, quantified benefits for instigating a multi-cloud networking training program.

Organizations that established multi-cloud networking training programs reported success in the following areas:

  • Multi-cloud network design is easier.
  • The consistent management of ingress and egress controls and load balancing across multiple cloud controllers is easier.
  • Cloud networking chargebacks are possible.
  • Centralized multi-cloud networking management becomes possible.
  • End-to-end visibility across a multi-cloud network is more achievable.

Next Steps

What does a cloud network engineer do?

Dig Deeper on Networking careers and certifications

Unified Communications
Mobile Computing
Data Center