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IT skills gap is holding you back—and blocking innovation

By Eric D. Brown

Today, the world of IT professionals is one in which IT automation and the cloud are at the forefront of every conversation and project, given the data-driven world where scale, access, and agility are necessities. The scale and agility needed are beyond anything humans can achieve without some form of automation to handle the management of these modern systems.

Changes in IT require new IT skills

The modern, fast-paced world of IT is a different world than it used to be. According to Sharon Gaudin, journalist at Computerworld, "IT is no longer sherparding the cloud migration. Business executives are dragging IT into the cloud and tech leaders are finding themselves being forced to keep up." The skills needed to be successful in the legacy IT world aren't going to be the same skills needed for success in the automated, cloud-based world. The challenge facing many IT leaders today comes from many in IT still being firmly entrenched in the legacy IT world. Some haven't had the opportunity to branch out to modern, cloud-based IT environments to pick up the skills needed to operate in the fast-paced world of IT.

silhouetteofbusinessmans_271316.jpgFor example, a database administrator (DBA) who is used to managing legacy database systems has had access to every aspect of the system and database. That same administrator might find it difficult when the organization moves to the cloud, and the administrator no longer has access to tweak settings on cloud database systems that don't allow access to configuration files. The best DBA for legacy systems isn't necessarily going to be the best DBA for cloud-based database systems without some training and resetting of expectations.

The same can be said for IT engineers who have been brought up in the legacy data center. In a legacy environment, IT had to plan changes in advance to add computing power or storage. Then, the IT group needed to extend their processes and systems to ensure these new systems were properly managed. With cloud-based systems, those same IT engineers can push a button to expand storage or to add computer power—but they need training. "IT workers need to understand how to use the cloud," Gaudin says. "They need to be able to handle automation and DevOps, combining the role of developer with operations and other IT jobs."

 To combat this skills gap, IT leaders need to provide IT with the training they need to get current on new technologies and also recruit new talent with current skills. "IT leaders," says Gaudin, "say to help convince tech workers to move to the cloud with more speed and less resistance, they need to talk openly with them about the new skills they'll be gaining, the broader jobs they'll be able to take on and the projects they'll be able to do that they never had time for before."

Don't say goodbye to legacy IT just yet

It should be noted that legacy systems aren't going anywhere anytime soon, but integrating and modernizing these systems with a hybrid, cloud-based approach allows organizations to take advantage of their existing investments and expertise while incorporating the best of the cloud-based systems. To take full advantage, IT needs to keep their skills current and also learn the new skills needed to manage new technologies. This hybrid approach will require much deeper IT automation to ensure legacy systems and cloud systems are working correctly.

IT automation is necessary for success in the cloud. The IT professional that doesn't expand their skill set to include automation know-how along with other cloud knowledge is going to be left behind.

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To learn more about automation's role in legacy IT, read the executive summary.  



Eric Brown.jpeg

Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. is a technology consultant, investor and entrepreneur with an interest in using technology and data to solve complex real-world business problems in marketing, finance and information technology.

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About the Author


Tracy Siclair has worked for HPE for 20 years in various positions, all geared towards providing a better customer experience. She has a passion for thinking out-of-the-box and finding innovative ways to get the job done. While not on a computer for work, she enjoys watching her kids play sports, photography, videography, and the occasional game of billiards. Tracy resides in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado.


Hi Tracy and Eric,

What a great article - and really good point! Cloud adoption requires more than technology and process change. It also requires that people are prepared and supported through-out the adoption of new tools, new skills, and ultimately new responsibilities within their teams. 

HPE has a full range of mentoring and training services available to help guide people through cloud adoption. I would invite our readers who might be interested, to take a look at what we offer at: 

Thanks for such an on-point discussion!

Best regards, Kelly

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