The future of careers in cloud computing – and the skills you need to have

The migration towards cloud computing in business has grown exponentially over the last 12 months, with new installation of public and private cloud network infrastructure becoming a key area of successful business operation.

Partnering this successful adoption of cloud technology is the positive development of both core and non-core careers in the sector, which in turn has led to an increased demand for skilled professionals and a boost in the number of available jobs.

We initially saw an increased demand for those skills that focused primarily on the implementation and support of cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

Now, however, with protection against cyber security threats fast becoming a primary concern for businesses following the recent ransomware attacks, and the impending introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU also becoming a priority, the cloud computing sector has seen a major shift in the demand for non-core professionals such as cybersecurity.

These experts have a strong knowledge of security and specialise in cloud network protection, in particular, penetration testers or ethical hackers, who are tasked with ensuring the complete safety of a system and network infrastructure so it has the capability to withstand infiltration. These are the first line of defence against a cyber-attack.

Given the authorisation to simulate white hat attacks on a secure network or system, the role of a penetration tester or ethical hacker is to evaluate the security of a network and test for unknown vulnerabilities.

Utilising a targeted pen test strategy to legally break into a computer, each test will be formulated to replicate a specific type of already-known attack, and will focus on identifying, exploring, testing and exploiting the main access points to a network. If the performed tests do unearth a vulnerability, pen testers will then comb the remainder of the network and work with the rest of the security team to eliminate the vulnerability.

Our experience tells us that in one in five UK IT vacancies, candidates are expected to have some experience of cloud computing, with many also stipulating the need for knowledge of data protection and security.

In order to service our clients more effectively, particularly with regards to cloud vacancies, we created  FRG Technology Consulting, which is our cloud specific recruitment brand.

As it stands, the majority of cloud professionals are self-taught or have learnt their skills throughout their time in the industry, ultimately meaning they lack the necessary experience to perform the role of an ethical hacker. And while experience in another IT field can offer some career progression and fills the gaps created by the current skills shortage, it will only curb the pressure on the marketplace for a short period of time.

There has however been a shift towards a route of natural progression into cloud computing and cybersecurity careers, which will not only provide a secure future for careers in the sector but also offer a comfortable alleviation on the skills shortage, and that is through the university education.

Numerous universities across the UK have backed the trend of modern cloud computing by moving away from the generic computer science degrees and offering BSC and MSC qualifications specifically in cloud computing. Allowing graduates to find a career in Cloud Operations if they take a non-specialised route, many establishments also offer a specific Cyber Security degree where students are taught to become penetrations testers while also learning the fundamentals of network security and advanced information security techniques.

Over the next 12 months, the investment from businesses into the cloud and security infrastructure is expected to systematically increase to accommodate the number of cloud professionals needed to successfully cope with the internal adoption of cloud platforms, storage and infrastructure. These investments should theoretically secure the future of careers in the sector, particularly with the inundation of new graduates continually adding different expertise to the sector, and the evolution of the technology providing equally as many opportunities to find your ideal cloud computing career.