Top 5 cloud skills for IT contractors as 2024 nears

The world of technology is constantly evolving, but nothing has been more transformative than the rise of cloud computing.

Covid, the cloud catalyst...

Since the pandemic, many organisations have been forced to rethink working structures, and as we started to embrace a more remote working structure, cloud software became the backbone of modern business.

Here, exclusively for ContractorUK, Jamie Spencer, head of technology, media & telecoms a leading STEM recruiters Matchtech, reveals the top 5 cloud skills for IT contractors, by identifying those which will be paramount to supporting business’s cloud activities in 2024.

How cloud software has helped reshape your world and mine

While cloud software is no new notion, it has evolved significantly over last few years, offering unprecedented scalability, flexibility, and accessibility for workforces worldwide.

For businesses, the attraction of cloud software lies in the mitigation of purchasing and maintaining physical technology to support storage needs, software, and infrastructure. This was a significant help throughout the coronavirus pandemic, when businesses had to adapt to online working.

Cloud computing enabled a reliance on conferencing tools such as Microsoft Teams and replaced bulky, back-office servers to pave the way for more accessible, flexible data storage, supportive of new hybrid working patterns.

As we begin to look towards 2024, the demand for contractor cloud skills will remain insatiable in our view, as the landscape starts to mature.

But to make the most of this richer environment, generally speaking contractors will need a diverse set of skills, to both navigate the complexities of cloud software and safeguard client-systems against cyber-attacks.

Without further ado, the top five cloud skills for IT contractors as 2024 nears, are:

1. Cloud architecture

Moving into 2024, IT contractors will need to combine foundational knowledge of cloud architecture with an emerging capability that will continue to evolve the landscape.

Proficiency in designing, implementing, and managing overall infrastructure will remain crucial, and technologists will need a deep understanding of the various cloud models -- including infrastructure as a service (IaaS); platform as a service (PaaS), software as a service (SaaS), and public, private, hybrid, and multi-cloud deployment models.

2. Security and compliance

As with any IT environment, security is essential. As the landscape continues to evolve, the risk of cyber attacks continues to increase. Current statistics show that in the past 12 months alone, approximately 2.39million cases of cybercrimes were reported in the UK.

For businesses, cyber-attacks can be devastating. The loss or breach of personal customer data and confidential corporate data can cause both reputational and financial damage, meaning contractors are required to understand the intricacies of cyber-attacks and manage/configure cloud software to safeguard against threats.

Unfortunately, at present there is still a significant gap in the market for cyber security professionals, so the demand for talent well outpaces the supply. The ongoing rise in cloud computing technology means this trend is likely to continue, putting additional pressure on this space’s existing teams and individual technologists.

3. Machine-learning and AI

In just a few short years, AI technology has come a very long way. In fact, current statistics show that 35% of businesses have adopted some form of AI into daily operations, and that proportion is likely to increase.

At present, all major cloud platforms provide a basic level of AI and machine-learning services and these can be used to help develop new capabilities.

For computer professionals like IT contractors, this means that there will be an increased requirement to understand the fundamentals of AI and machine-learning to help develop and maintain software to adapt to the changing environment.

Ultimately, AI and machine learning skills are currently among the most in-demand on our database and, as we look ahead to clients’ hiring indications for 2024, we predict this demand will only increase.

4. DevOps and automation

DevOps practices, including continuous integration (CI), continuous delivery (CD), and infrastructure as code (IaC), will remain essential for efficient cloud operation.

We are also likely to see an increased demand for automation skills, using tools such as Terraform and Ansible.

Automation is one of the most significant benefits of cloud services and as technology moves on, we are likely to see a rise in applications that can be programmed to make correct decisions without human intervention.

Of course, cloud contractors will play a vital role in facilitating this level of automation which is where a profound knowledge of cloud infrastructure comes in, alongside -- ideally -- an understanding of how different components interact and depend on one another.

One of the most common forms of automation is autoscaling, which we envision will be crucial to more businesses in 2024. Autoscaling enables applications and services to scale up and down based on demand, meaning IT contractors will be increasingly required to correctly implement configuring policies.

5. Performance testing, metrics, and analytics

Testing the performance of cloud environments allows for a more transparent view of overall system performance and can highlight areas for improvement.

As technology develops, we’re likely to see a greater demand for IT contractors (and full-timers) with expertise in metrics and analytics. Related, an understanding of which metrics should be applied to specific cloud services will allow you to demonstrate the ROI of cloud technology, helping you to better service your clients.

Naturally, as newer technologies come to the forefront you may want to educate yourself in more advanced disciplines. Luckily, there is no shortage of resources to help ambitious contractors, including face-to-face formal training and online courses. Many organisations also offer on-the-job training opportunities, made easier by the fact that every major cloud provider now has its own set of globally-recognised certifications.

Cloud outlook? It's far from overcast…

As the popularity, adoption and growing maturity of cloud services continues to play a part in almost everyone’s daily life -- since covid took the cloud almost mainstream, opportunities for IT contractors simply abound. And naturally, as technology continues to develop, so too will both the skills of IT professionals and the expectation on them to not only work quickly and flexibly but also to be at the forefront of this technological new-normal.

Tuesday 3rd Oct 2023
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Written by Jamie Spencer

Jamie’s recruitment experience spans across 12 years. At Matchtech, he leads a team of consultants specialising in core areas of technology including Cloud, DevOps & IT Security. He has worked across a number of sectors supplying technology professionals in a multitude of industries including  technology consultancies, retail, defence, public sector, financial services & energy starting as a resourcer and now leading multiple teams within the technology division of the STEM specialist recruitment partner. 

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