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Cloud exec: Cultivating skills for cloud computing still a challenge

Without the proper skills for cloud computing, rolling out the technology in your organization can be a big challenge, according to Scott Brindamour, senior director of the architect team for cloud hosting and IT services at CenturyLink.

We caught up with Brindamour at the Gartner Symposium/ITXpo in Orlando, Fla., to discuss multi-cloud adoption and the organizational challenges CIOs and IT execs face when implementing cloud strategies. In this video interview, Brindamour discusses why he considers finding and cultivating skills for cloud computing to be a top concern -- and which skills are particularly valuable when hiring for cloud.

Editor's note: The following has been edited for clarity and brevity.

What are some of your customers' biggest multi-cloud concerns?

Scott Brindamour: I think the biggest one is [cloud computing] skill sets. With AWS, Amazon is not stopping growth. Neither is Microsoft. They're hiring a lot of the best and brightest talent. How do I get the skills for cloud computing? I can train my people up, but how much should I train those folks up? We see a lot of customers actually looking to companies like CenturyLink to help them outsource that. As they're going to a new venue in the cloud, they may not want to invest in the talent and the training until they understand what they're going to use that venue for. That's No. 1.

A lot of millennials are being hired who have that passion and have that knowledge and that creative thinking. That's the perfect place to start.
Scott Brindamoursenior director, CenturyLink

No. 2 is just changing their tool sets from the workload that they manage in their four walls and in their data center and moving that to cloud-native tools or third-party tools that can manage the workloads regardless of where you put it. [You need] the ability to deploy an application to multiple clouds the same way and standardize it so that you can manage, operate and automate it the same way. Then, thirdly, you have to know what your costs are and balance and optimize around that.

Those are the three things I see [as the biggest concerns] -- skill sets, experience and expertise; the ability to operate; and the cost factor in deciding where to put things and how to move them around. Usually, people move an app somewhere and they leave it there. What we're seeing more of now is customers want to change the venue of their app based on where the users are, where performance is and also where the data is actually used or collected, and then make sure the privacy and the localization in the data is there as well.

You talked about skills for cloud computing. What are some specific skills CIOs should look for when hiring for cloud?

Brindamour: They don't have to be a programmer per se, but you need someone who understands coding and understands cloud-native coding principles, DevOps and data best practices. We talked a lot today about dynamism and the need for people who have dynamic capabilities and have experience in a bunch of different areas. They don't have to be an AWS pro-certified person. Usually, those people make really good money and are in high demand. [You need] someone who is dynamic and has lots of skill sets, but also understands from a root-programming level how things are operating. Because everything's moving to software-defined, native, cloud-native and the cloud, and it starts with understanding the code and how applications are built.

From there, I think you can teach anybody who has the want and drive in any different area you need. I think what a lot of companies are doing is buying and attracting that talent and then training them up internally because it's too costly to hire somebody with all the certifications that you want. They're going to be really expensive on the open market. A lot of millennials are being hired who have that passion and have that knowledge and that creative thinking. That's the perfect place to start and invest in those people.

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