Digital transformation, including shifting to the cloud, remains one of the top priorities for businesses in 2023. But this needs top-level talent which has been extremely challenging to find given long-running cloud skills shortages.
Indeed, many MSPs have concerns about moving to the cloud fearing the financial impact and particularly, the expertise needed to manage cloud-based applications. And these fears are not unfounded.
A 2023 survey by Pluralsight showed that, while the cloud skills shortage theoretically creates a shortage for MSPs to fill, 74% of them still felt that serious investment was needed in the cloud skills space.
Will Ominsky started his career in IT at a Boston-based MSP, helping to launch their VoIP practice and grow their managed service and cloud computing offerings.
Following an acquisition, Will moved to the other side of the channel, helping IT Service providers & MSPs build DaaS offerings on RDS as a Channel Manager for two startups. At Nerdio, Will takes his knowledge of cloud computing and MSP services to help IT service providers build successful cloud practices in Microsoft Azure.
It found that the main challenge holding businesses back from closing the cloud skills gap is difficulty finding candidates to bring in as new hires, with 44% of respondents struggling with this issue.
This is a problem with repercussions on a micro and macro level, and therefore needs to be addressed on both. To resolve the issue, new, broader government policies are needed as well as small-scale solutions that individual MSPs can implement today to alleviate the effects of the cloud skills shortage.
Keeping up with the cloud
The challenge in tech, and specifically in the cloud space, is the pace of development. As more and more organizations migrate to cloud-based infrastructure and services, the solutions offered reach higher levels of complexity.
In parallel, it is also becoming increasingly difficult to find, attract, train, and develop enough software engineers who are not only comfortable with cloud, but also up to speed with the latest product sets.
It is also important to determine what exactly we mean by “the cloud”. We might be using this as an umbrella term, but it denotes several different hyperscalers which come with individual architecture, terminology, services, and require a different set of expertise.
In the face of these difficulties, many MSPs feel that the only way to keep provisioning their customers is to build their own management tool that can cater to every need – but then, they run into a costly and time-consuming process which doesn’t often yield the right results.
Even if businesses manage to identify top talent, the likelihood is these people will be incredibly sought after and very difficult to retain.
Engineers that are experienced and familiar with the latest offerings are few and far between and in very high demand, making it easy for them to secure new roles with better conditions.
There is no question that strong talent should be appreciated and rewarded – but many smaller MSPs can find it difficult to keep up with the tough competition in this regard and therefore risk losing their top talent.
Change your tools, not your people
In the current climate, where recruitment efforts are becoming more aggressive and companies are willing to pay your top talent even more than ever, the solution might not be related to human resources at all.
One way to work around the issue is to tackle it from another point of view. Instead of looking at the people, organizations ought to look at their tech. If the tech is so complicated that it requires the rarest of talents, it might in fact be easier to make changes to the tech itself.
The solution can therefore be implementing simple, easy-to-use management tools that greatly reduce the knowledge and expertise required to operate them.
Adopting tools that can easily be managed by the existing IT staff means admins feel empowered and in control, armed with an accurate picture of which resources are being used and for what purpose.
For example, MSPs should look to tools that include a user-friendly dashboard that provides a centralized view of all cloud resources and services. This allows MSPs to quickly monitor and manage client environments, saving time and reducing the risk of errors.
Cloud management tools can also help MSPs to manage cost and resources.
Simplified tools for provisioning resources like virtual machines, storage and databases make it easy to meet client demands quickly – and automation can further simplify this process.
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Cost is also a significant concern for MSP clients, so easy-to-use cost tracking and optimization can help MSPs to identify cost-saving opportunities for their clients and prevent unexpected expenses.
Finally, tools can also help to ensure security and compliance is appropriately managed. Tools that provide easy-to-follow security best practices and compliance checks help MSPs ensure that client data remains safe and compliant with relevant regulations.
All of this frees up expertise across the business and allows professionals to work more effectively. At the same time, for MSPs, this eliminates the risk of falling into a catastrophic situation simply because of losing a skilled worker.
The bottom line
It is of course crucial to make sure you have the right people in your business, no matter the time or surrounding economic conditions. But it is worth trying to flip the question on its head: what if you already had the right people, just not the right tools?
Rather than questioning your trusted workforce and asking them to keep up with the fast-paced developments of the cloud, turn to easily manageable technology which can offer operational benefits as well as peace of mind from a staffing perspective.
That way, you can greatly reduce the risk that the current labor market poses to your business, while also appreciating and empowering your existing team.
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Will Ominsky started his career in IT at a Boston-based MSP, helping to launch their VoIP practice and grow their managed service and cloud computing offerings. Following an acquisition, Will moved to the other side of the channel, helping IT Service providers & MSPs build DaaS offerings on RDS as a Channel Manager for two startups. At Nerdio, Will takes his knowledge of cloud computing and MSP services to help IT service providers build successful cloud practices in Microsoft Azure.