Getting a Job in Cloud Computing: Interview with David Linthicum

David LinthicumWho is David Linthicum and why should I read this interview?

David has spent the last 20 years leading, showing and teaching businesses how to use resources more productively and innovate constantly. He has authored 13 books on computing, 3,000+ articles, 500+ conference presentations. You might have heard or seen him on any number of his appearances on radio and TV. I believe David expanded the vision of both startups and established enterprises as to what is possible and achievable.

David, you are currently a Senior Vice President for Cloud Technology Partners. Could you talk a bit about Cloud Technology Partners and your role within the company, and the Cloud Community?

Cloud Technology Partners
Cloud Technology Partners (CTP) is the premier cloud services and software company for enterprises moving to AWS, Google, Microsoft and other leading cloud platforms. Additionally, we help build clouds for ISVs and other technology company looking to cloud-enable their offerings.
I’m an SVP on the executive team executing a variety of roles, including client acquisition, engagement management, marketing, and I provide vision for the overall company strategy.
I attempt to be a visionary in the cloud marketplace, writing and speaking about what’s coming next. I focus on the details behind the technology, providing step-wise processes that define how you actually take advantage of the emerging technology, such as cloud computing.

As a former professional Blogger for InfoWorld you’ve watched distributed computing mature. It seems impossible to overstate the growth of Cloud Computing right now. Do you agree, and if so what do you attribute this to?

Cloud computing is a fundamental shift in how we consume computing resources, but it’s also a fundamental shift in how we deal with application development, data storage, security, and governance. What’s driving the shift to cloud computing is a need to get IT spending under control, but most of all a need to create IT platforms that are quicker to program and provision.
What’s driving the shift to cloud computing is a need to get IT spending under control, but most of all a need to create IT platforms that are quicker to program and provision.
Cloud computing is a platform that provides speed and agility. As enterprises migrate to the cloud they do so motivated by cost savings, but stay once they discover the value of agility. The use of cloud, as well as the rise of DevOps, means that we can think differently as to how we deliver IT services.
Perhaps, it also means that we can now move IT to the delivery business solutions at the “speed of need.” That’s why Cloud Computing is experiencing exploding growth.

From recent Gartner analysis, many of the best tech jobs are in and around Cloud Computing. Where do you see entry points for people transitioning into the industry?

Most of the good cloud computing jobs are skill specific, such as AWS S3 and EC2 developers, or perhaps Google and Azure security specialists. Best I can figure, there are 3 open positions chasing 1 qualified candidate for the specific skills positions.
My advice to IT folks looking for a transition into the cloud industry is that they should learn a very specific skill through training. Certification is a good objective because it proves to companies that you possess, at minimal, the basic level of skills that they need.
Once you get that first job, you can pretty much write your own plan as to working on other aspects of the cloud that interest you more. If you want to explore new hyped applications such as IoT and Big Data, you are in the door and making the shift will be trivial compared to breaking into the cloud side of computing. Getting that first cloud job is really just the first step, but it’s necessary.

What skills and traits are valued most by Cloud employers and companies?

Most enterprises and technology companies looking to hire cloud skills are searching for those individual who have specific skills, again,  such as AWS, Google, and Microsoft. In my wide experience, the days of being a generalist are behind us, and most enterprises know the cloud platforms they want to harness, and are looking for skills that fit into those detailed business and development plans.

You have written some 13 books on computing. Clearly you understand the value of continuous learning. How do you view the role of Cloud training?

Cloud training is extremely important considering that there is a huge cloud-skills shortage now.

Cloud platforms are quickly evolving, and the training must evolve just as rapidly as well. If we don’t have the trained staff to build and support cloud-based applications and infrastructure, none of this cloud stuff will work very well. This is the number one reason that enterprises fail at the cloud. They simply lack skilled people who can effectively execute in a timely and secure manner. The skills aren’t optional for a person or a company, they are required for success.

Ask two people what they think of Cloud Certifications and your likely to get three opinions. What are your thoughts on Certifications in general and Cloud Certifications in specific?

Cloud certifications means that a person has reached a certain level of knowledge and skills around the use of a cloud service. It’s not magical, but employers are more likely to hire someone who is certified, versus someone who is not. No matter if it’s cloud or non-cloud gigs.

Certifications are important in general, and very important for cloud specifically.

You work across platforms and see the pros and cons of each. Do you see enterprise using multiple Cloud providers?

Yes, that seems to be the path. However, the proportions are important as well. While AWS is by far the most popular IaaS cloud platform, many enterprises have Azure and Google in there as well. Typically for special purposes, such as cheaper storage, big data, or in support of existing and migrating .Net applications.
The trick to deal with “multi-cloud” deployments is to provide automated provisioning and management to sits above all clouds leveraged. It’s this layer of abstraction the allows you to managed all cloud through a common interface that hides most of the complexity of dealing with heterogeneous cloud platform from you.

Are there features that truly distinguish the three big providers? Could you note them?

AWS is known for having the richest set of capabilities, or services. Thus, they also have the largest market share. Enterprises may be seeking 50 key services that their public cloud provider, should offer. AWS has 70 of them. AWS is one stop shopping, and this can be appealing for 100 different reasons.
Azure is really an extension of the Microsoft platforms, and if you’re a Microsoft shop, it’s typically going to be the best path. While they are still behind AWS is some features, they are steadily progressing the platform, and are more and more a sound alternative to AWS.
Google is the late entry. However, even though they are lacking some features, the ones that they have are well engineered. Storage, for example, is cheap and fast on the Google cloud, as is data analytics. Considering how much Google will be spending over the next several years, they are likely to catch up to both AWS and Microsoft.
Considering how much Google will be spending over the next several years, they are likely to catch up to both AWS and Microsoft.
Editor’s note: Cloud Academy offers learning resources for the major cloud providers. 

Do you have predictions for the future of the Cloud Computing ecosystem?

It’s perhaps the most important aspect of cloud computing. We need strong third-party tools that manage security, governance, and monitoring, etc. across clouds. Those can’t come from cloud providers. I personally believe that third-party tools will provide the largest growth in the marketplace after this year, and will be bigger than the public cloud players.

If you could go back in time and offer some advice to a younger you about learning and careers, what would that be?

Never stop thinking about what’s next, and never be happy with the status quo.
The name of the game is innovation, and constantly asking questions as to ways to do things better. You keep that always as a motivator and you’ll drive positive change.

I am the editor and I want to point readers to Cloud Academy‘s free 7-day trial subscription. We offer the opportunity of learning paths that build effective strategies for career advancement. Our video courses, quizzes, and labs prepare students for certification and real-world computing.

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