With cloud computing comes new ways of doing business, changing the way organisations collaborate, operate and deliver services and applications.

However, when it comes to the classic combination of ‘people, process and technology’ for a successful IT infrastructure, many businesses are putting the ‘technology’ and ‘process’ in place, but are struggling with the ‘people’ side of the equation.

The benefits of cloud are widely publicised, but while businesses warmly welcome greater flexibility to their business processes, potential cost savings, improved customer service and productivity, are they also developing the right skills to maximise their presence in the cloud?

In a recent research report commissioned by NTT Com Security on attitudes to cloud adoption, just 12% of companies ranked ‘in-house skills availability’ as the most important factor when considering deploying a new application service or changing an existing one. Business agility, security and cost were all considered more important.

According to the same study, when in-house skills are critical to deployment, just over a third of businesses chose cloud as their delivery method, while the majority opted for a data centre to deploy an application service. On the other hand, when in-house skills are not critical to deployment, cloud was selected by only 45% – still a minority.

The question here is whether cloud projects are potentially being compromised or delayed by a lack of relevant skills, or are organisations simply not aware of what skills are needed?

More worrying is that companies are being deterred from adopting cloud as an acceptable model because they still associate it with a lack of security, and are making assumptions about it and the skills required to develop, design and deliver secure cloud services.

There is still a level of uncertainty and misunderstanding about what cloud is and what it can deliver for the business – and security is one of the biggest barriers to adoption.

Many organisations still adopt old ways of thinking about governance, risk and compliance when it comes to developing and implementing brand new service delivery models.

Given the publicity surrounding recent NSA/Prism revelations and widespread confusion over compliance, data protection and data sovereignty laws and regulation requirements from authorities like the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), misunderstanding and uncertainty is bound to cloud some people’s judgement.

According to an IDC report this year, 1.7m cloud computing related jobs globally could not be filled in 2012 because applicants lacked the necessary training, certification and experience needed to work in cloud-enabled businesses. The analyst firm predicts that the demand for skilled cloud IT professionals will grow by 26% year on year until 2015, creating as many as 7m cloud-related jobs worldwide.

Security and risk management skills must be embedded into cloud services for a start. These are not bolt-on skills, but should be addressed at the development and planning stage – whether this is managed with the requisite in-house skills or by working with companies that can offer those specialist skills.

So while demand for skills continues to outstrip supply, the question remains whether businesses are prepared to develop the right skills to help them maximise their investment in the cloud and ensure they are approaching cloud security in the right way.

What is evident though is that ensuring good security is a fundamental requirement of giving organisations the confidence and ability to adopt cloud services. The rise in adoption of cloud services and increase in both security skills and investment go hand-in-hand.


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