Technologies such as IoT, robotics, VR and AI are changing the world in ways we can’t yet fully predict. What we do know, however, is that these technologies are already calling for significantly upgraded IT skills.
What Is the Cloud?
The cloud is all about data storage, the access of programs and applications and the enhancement of computer power, all done over the internet. It is designed to save businesses money by negating the need to maintain data in house. It is ultimately a name for data storage, which often brings to mind an image of a room filled with computers and hard-drives used for storage. The cloud is vital to the digital transformation, as it will hold the data of almost everything.
If companies do not embrace this change, they will fall behind. As the needs for storage and the ability to simultaneously run many different programs increase, the cloud is becoming more and more invaluable. It is growing at a rapid rate, and this is leading the need for cloud-based IT skills to be required across businesses of all types.
The Cloud Skills Gap
Many areas of the IT world — including the U.S. federal government — are experiencing a skills gap. According to WorkScoop’s latest report on the federal IT workforce, one area that needs particular attention is the cloud. However, the cloud does not encompass just one skill, rather, it’s more of an umbrella term that covers many different, distinct skills, predominantly in cloud services and integration, cloud architecture, cloud networking and engineering, cloud application development and multi-cloud management.
The U.S. federal government is very aware that cloud-based computer technologies are advancing rapidly, as citizens become more reliant upon the cloud to run their lives and work. This is forcing federal leaders to double down and come up with new ways to support their workforce. They know there has to be a significant investment in cloud services and that it needs to be done soon. However, some senior leaders are actually unaware of the IT skills gap, so there is still a lot of financial research and work to be done when it comes to government IT teams getting the training and having the skills they need to meet the demands of the digital revolution.
Roles Required to Fill the Skills Gap
In addition to the growing need for cloud skills and the investment associated with upskilling, government officials are also concerned about cyber crime. As more information is transferred onto the cloud, the need for cybersecurity increases. This is especially true in terms of protecting the cloud, as this will likely be where the majority of important data is stored. Partitioning and the protection of data is probably going to become a federal remit, so, it’s very important to understand the problem and what to do about it.
Two key roles that will be in higher demand for the federal government include:
1. Cloud Networking and Engineering
Cloud networking (or cloud-based networking) means that a business or organization uses the cloud to host some or all of its network resources. They may choose to do this on a private cloud function or a public cloud. The foundation of cloud networking is cloud computing, which is the real-time, on-demand constant availability of space (i.e., data storage, as in the high-functioning, continuous use of applications and program resources kept on the cloud). It is simply an enhancement of individual computing power, as programs are hosted elsewhere to free up space for the user. This means there will be less personal IT issues in terms of speed, for example, and this is all done for the user by the cloud.
Cloud engineering — the practical application of cloud computing in the engineering sector — is the process by which the cloud is coherently systemized to be used commercially. Cloud engineering also standardizes applications, programs and processes, and sets up governance protocols of the cloud applications.
A cloud engineer will find that their job actually includes many various roles. They are, in essence, a cloud architect who looks after the cloud system. They will design cloud applications and other plans. They are also a cloud software engineer who is looked upon to deploy various cloud services. They are also a cloud security engineer protecting the business from cyber attacks. They also focus on the systems and network of a cloud. Primarily, however, a cloud engineer deploys new cloud services or further enhances a business’s understanding of the cloud, how it can be used and what technology is required.
2. Cloud Application Development
A cloud application (or cloud app) is an internet-based software program that is partially or wholly hosted on the cloud. To make the application work, the components both on the cloud and locally (i.e., your computer) work together to enable the app to work. Additionally, there must be a continuous internet connection in order for the app to work, as remote servers are utilized to process information.
Cloud application development is the act of creating cloud applications to enhance a business and make it more efficient and cost-effective. This process usually involves many different interactions within an application development team. The individuals involved may come from a vast range of different business areas, and they collaborate to create something new based on business needs. They first work through an outline of design specifications and then create code and begin testing the system, with the ultimate goal of delivering a new application that solves a specific problem.
How the Government Can Start Closing its IT Skills Gap
Hiring new talent is always an option when it comes to closing the skills gap. However, these candidates may be few and far between due to the specialty needed, so it may be difficult to find the right fit, especially since these individuals are in high demand by other organizations, too. Another method for closing the skills gap is introducing in-house training programs for existing staff, such as online learning modules.
As a starting point for closing the IT skills gap, the U.S. federal government should rethink its approach. The federal security risks associated with a lack of trained IT teams could be exponential, and there is not yet a way to assess the very real risk in any coherent and measurable way, as not enough research has been conducted regarding this particular sector and IT risks. A clear vision for the future of the U.S. federal government’s IT skills needs to be laid out in black and white to show where investment and new hires are needed the most.
The government must create roles that are attractive to younger generations who may be more ready to aid in digital transformation. It must also be open to change and evolution and offer ongoing training programs that enable staff to gain the skills they need. Additionally, there needs to be a re-prioritization of time, money and resources toward upskilling current employees. This campaign of improvement will enhance governmental IT security, and the workforce will feel that they are helping the government evolve with the inevitable digital transformation.
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