Cloud computing is growing faster than ever. The cloud market reached almost $150 billion in 2016, and is growing at 25% annually. Traditionally, companies’ top concern was security. But this year, the #1 challenge reported by cloud adopters is a lack of people with the right skills.
At the forefront is Amazon Web Services (AWS), the public cloud division of Amazon. Their business-friendly cloud options ranked #1 in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. AWS has been around since 1999, however, with the spike in cloud migrations, demand for qualified people has exploded.
The natural response is to scramble to get approval for a new top AWS/cloud migration expert. But many companies run into trouble by hiring the wrong type of person, hiring without a plan, or hiring before their infrastructure is ready. This leads to poor retention and an expensive cloud-based disaster.
How to lay the groundwork for a new AWS/cloud project:
What is the goal?
AWS has many modules; its tagline is “A platform for virtually every use case.” It is the CTO’s job to set a goal and narrow the focus. Too many companies jump into new technology because everyone seems to be doing it, but the reality is that no project can succeed without a clear, realistic goal.
The worst possible approach is, “We need to invest in cloud. What should we do with it?” The goal should address an existing problem that ties directly to revenue. For instance: streamlining a data center, improving security, speeding up data processing, or meeting compliance standards. AWS and cloud-based technology cannot solve every problem, but it brings many exciting tools to the table.
What are the options?
Cloud technology is not an all-or-nothing investment. After defining the goal, choose the features and modules that make sense. For many companies, a hybrid solution is best for their needs, especially for companies with existing infrastructure and assets. Smaller companies can simply rent or buy into existing cloud platforms and software, especially for data storage and security needs. Enterprises and companies doing large cloud migrations will more likely need to hire an expert.
Who is driving?
Without a clear leader to head up the effort, a cloud project will quickly fall apart and become a chaotic, over-budget mess. A director or department head may seem like the obvious choice, however it may not be the best choice if this person already has a totally full schedule, travels a lot, or does not understand the technology.
The best person to lead is someone who is highly project-oriented and a big-picture strategist who communicates well with many types of people. Someone detail-oriented risks getting lost in the weeds. Ideally, they have technical experience or manage technical people.
With the groundwork in place, the hiring need should be clearer.
Before interviewing, know the right questions to ask, and have at least one interviewer who can ask technical questions on the AWS technology. This is for two reasons: it screens out underqualified candidates, and it gives the interviewing company legitimacy. Experts gravitate towards companies who have done their research and ask the right questions. It is an indication that the company will treat them well and respect their expertise.
Beware of hiring a complete team of outside people to manage a brand new big-budget technology project. Even if they are experts in the technology, they are not familiar with the company culture and team. Even the best person can run into problems if current employees perceive that an “outsider” is coming in and trying to change everything overnight. A more neutral strategy is to hire an engineer or architect who reports to a trusted leader within the organization who can act as the liaison.
Train some, hire some. Who can be retrained? Competition is so fierce that some companies will inevitably be stuck with a person who has the technical skills but is not the best cultural fit, or vice versa. Therefore, the lower the budget, the greater the need for flexibility.
Work to change technophobe attitudes before the project starts. Share responsibility and ownership in the project with the whole team, and get as many people as possible on board. Take their ideas and try them out, where possible. New technology can feel like a threat and a burden, so open communication does wonders to make current employees feel more at ease.
Lastly, have a follow-through plan. Once the cloud project is complete, have a plan in place for who will maintain it and run it. Hire or train them with plenty of time. Success in the early stages is critical for employees to get on board.
As with any complex project, it pays to work with a recruiter who knows the space well and can locate the best talent for the company’s budget. If your company is considering a large-scale cloud or AWS project, contact us for a free evaluation of your hiring needs. Reach our cloud specialist Aileen directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.