Hybrid cloud is often seen as a “best of both worlds” approach, giving businesses the scalability and agility of the public cloud while also allowing them to host some workloads in their own data centers for cost, security or other reasons. But managing the complexity introduced by a hybrid cloud requires specific skills, many of which employees might lack.

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According to Deloitte, almost half of cloud professionals and senior executives say that the cloud is more complex than they expected, and 42 percent said that having the “right staff” on board is the best way to address cloud complexity. To ensure that you have the expertise needed to support a hybrid cloud approach, consider taking the following steps.

1. Understand the Cloud Journey

For some organizations, the hybrid cloud represents an end state. For others, it’s merely a stopover on the path to a fully public cloud environment. Stakeholders should understand where they’re going to determine what skills they need. If the hybrid cloud is a permanent goal, then leaders might decide to invest in extensive training for existing employees or to hire new staff. On the other hand, if the organization will be operating with a hybrid environment for only a couple of years, then it might make more sense to rely on managed services until the organization has fully moved to the cloud.

2. Determine Needs

Once business and IT leaders know where they’re going, they should determine what skills they will need to not only get them there but to support the new environment once it’s up and running. Networking and security are often identified as two critical areas.

Networking gets more complicated when organizations migrate workloads to the public cloud, and with traffic constantly moving between the public cloud and an enterprise data center in a hybrid environment, networking will obviously be very important. While many of the early concerns about security in the public cloud have proved to be overblown, it’s still a critical consideration when placing data on infrastructure outside of the enterprise. Organizations need to make sure they have the right mix of security tools and expertise to keep their information safe.

3. Identify Infrastructure

Solutions such as hyperconverged infrastructure and next-generation backup tools help streamline an organization’s path to the cloud. While these tools generally make IT staffers’ jobs easier, they may also require some specialized skills. Organizations should keep this in mind when adopting new infrastructure, determining whether they already have the needed expertise in-house or whether they may have to develop or acquire that knowledge.

4. Evaluate Existing Skills

Once stakeholders know what skills they’re going to need, they should make an honest assessment of their existing staff to identify gaps. Many organizations, for example, will lack in-house expertise related to automation and cloud-native application development. In a hybrid cloud environment, development teams and systems teams tend to work together much more closely, and systems engineers may need to learn new coding skills to develop new templates.

5. Chart a Path

There are essentially three ways for organizations to get the cloud expertise they need: They can train up their existing staff, they can hire new employees or they can bring in third-party partners for consulting or managed services.

It’s important to recognize that IT workers with deep cloud expertise are in high demand and short supply. This means that the most talented employees are often snapped up by organizations that are located in attractive markets and can afford to pay a premium.

Thankfully, IT professionals can take advantage of numerous training programs — many of them offered by public cloud vendors themselves. For organizations with talented, ambitious staffers, training up existing employees can be a good option.

However, this is a less attractive move for organizations that are adopting a hybrid approach only temporarily. Also, many organizations have found that a high percentage of their employees end up leaving for higher pay once they acquire news skills. Finally, many organizations determine that managed services or consulting services from a trusted partner such as CDW can help them bridge their skills gaps.

There’s no one right way for you to get the cloud skills you need. There’s not even any one set of skills that every organization will require to build and support its hybrid environment. What’s important is that business and IT leaders figure out what they have, what they need and how to get from point A to point B.

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