I remember when it was derogatory to refer to someone as having their head in the clouds. Nowadays it seems we all want our heads in the Cloud. The problem is, as Markus Winterholer reliably informed me, the technology has moved so fast that there simply isn’t enough talent to meet the demand.
“In the past,” Markus explained, “When you had an idea, you’d need a huge budget to build the computer power, amass the data storage capacity, and hire the workforce to operate a system. It took months to get something off the ground and if it didn’t work, you were screwed! Nowadays, failure is acceptable. It happens fast and frequently because you don’t need to buy this hardware infrastructure anymore. Anyone can experiment with new technologies like Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning (AI/ML), digital twins, and simulations simply by logging into their Amazon account.”
In the context of the job market, even though hardware maintenance is now virtualised, the skillset is far from redundant. As Markus explained, “This expertise in networking, security, database and server configuration, etc. is now needed to configure the Cloud software. Instead of doing this work with a screwdriver, it is done with a script.”
This shift has led to new opportunities for anyone that understands how to programme hardware infrastructure – from C-level executives down to administrators. According to Markus, though, it’s almost impossible to find people on the market. What’s missing is the ability to apply hardware experience within the high-speed demands of the Cloud. To fill this gap, AWS currently spends a lot of time training partners and customers, educating recruiters, and supporting universities.
Markus left me with what seems like Cloud technology’s answer to a Confucian proverb, which I imagine current and future job seekers would do well to consider, “Cloud makes hardware agile. Agility equates to being smart and fast. Hardware maintenance has always required smart people. Cloud demands speed in addition.”
Markus Winterholer is Practice Manager, Global & Strategic Accounts, at Amazon Web Services (AWS) Zürich. We are delighted to have Markus as a member of our newly formed University of St.Gallen MBA "Future Skills Advisory Board".