If your company is in the market for hiring cloud engineers, but not finding the talent you need, you aren’t alone. The cloud and network experts many companies need are getting harder and harder to find.
These unfilled positions are a result of numerous factors.
- For a decade, the most ambitious engineers have been mastering cloud services, with little interest in going back to non-cloud environments;
- Few companies can offer the creativity, challenges, and opportunity that this talent demands; and
- On top of this, the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed a distributed workforce to choose from many more employers than just those nearby as everyone has implemented remote work policies.
These shifts have created a lack of reliable engineers with the skills to build and manage an organization’s infrastructure. As companies grow, they often find that their cloud (whether it’s public, private, or hybrid) can’t deliver what they need — or can’t do it cost-effectively. Now they need experience and expertise to take the next steps in their growth if they can find it.
Putting your company in the hands of a single engineer
Finding someone who can properly set up and evolve scalable environments is getting harder. Finding someone who can look at the business needs and know, intuitively, which paths to take, is almost impossible. It’s gotten to the point that companies are making acquisitions just to get the expertise they need. And if you do find the right person for the job, then you have to keep them.
Part of the problem is that the best minds tend to love the thorniest work — things like discovery, migration, and the initial architecting that goes into an environment. No business, and no infrastructure, is static, but it’s hard to get folks charged up about incremental improvements. Unless your company is big enough to constantly be adding resources — or a service provider like Deft, constantly working on new projects — the best engineers are going to get bored. All the incentives in the world aren’t enough to keep a valuable engineer.
Losing talent, or not having the talent you need to execute your strategies, is one of every leader’s nightmares. In IT, though, it takes on another level. When critical team members leave, they take significant institutional knowledge with them. Yes, they should document absolutely everything, but people rarely bother. It’s hard to find the time to do extra work and follow best practices if you don’t plan to ever see the person who will work in the environment next.
In both of these areas, Deft is lucky. We can hire and keep a lot of the best engineers because our wide range of clients gives our team endless interesting problems to solve. And, they have to look our clients and their peers in the eye. If you hand off a system to one of your colleagues without proper documentation, it’s going to get awkward, fast, in the work Slack.
Most companies can’t find, let alone maintain, a deep bench of talent. Today that is even harder as you’re competing with the entire world.
A distributed workforce is only making it harder
Remote work — always acceptable in tech — is now the norm. That means instead of competing with your neighboring organizations for talent, you’re looking at the whole world. Even on-prem infrastructure can be managed remotely, making legacy system engineers and architects just as difficult to find. An engineer can work from anywhere with a good connection, and for any company with a strong offer.
These forces — a shallow talent pool, a shortage of interesting problems in any one company, and a workforce able to choose the best situation wherever it is — leaves companies that rely on their infrastructure for their success forever chasing talent. Great pay and great benefits aren’t enough. To hire engineers, you have to show them how they’ll be able to build their skills working for you now and build their careers working with you over the long term. Outside of service providers and the most complex companies, that’s a difficult promise to make.
Modern infrastructure requirements
Modern infrastructures require a diversity of skill sets and experience ranging from the basics of compute and storage to network architecture, Kubernetes, Ansible, observability, time-series services, service mesh, content delivery networks, AI/ML, IoT, and much more. It’s hard, if not impossible, to find an individual that has all these skills. Yet, even for a small app, you need a team with a diversified skill set to be sure all bases are covered.
The most important skills to look for, and the areas where we focus most heavily, are adaptability and ability/willingness to learn. The technology used for modern, elastic infrastructure is evolving quickly. Just look at CNCF cloud-native interactive landscape. It is extremely difficult for anyone to know about all of these areas. It’s often difficult to even keep up with the developments within one area.
Successful infrastructure is dependent upon people — your team members and your partners — who must be willing to pick up new things, learn them and run with them. Sure, mistakes will be made. The willingness to embrace these opportunities and learn on the fly, though, is critical to everyone’s success.
It may be hard to find them, but engineers have never been better
All of that brings us to the silver lining: The engineers who are working today have access to an entire world of information. If they choose to use them, the opportunities to get unbelievably good at their jobs are there.
The people working in infrastructure today are doing it because they want to, and because they want to be great at it. Get the right people building the backbone of your company, and you can see innovation and improvements happening faster than ever before.
At Deft we are committed to making a difference for our clients daily. We do this collaboratively, always finding a way forward, no matter how difficult, and by pushing ourselves and our clients to their potential. It is this environment, and these challenges, that make Deft truly unique and enable us to have the right team members on staff to serve our clients, no matter where they are or where their strategies will take them.