The rise of cloud computing has made it easier for companies to adopt the practice, but the increased dependence on data security and compliance means many firms still find themselves in a position where they cannot. This is particularly true when it comes to smaller organizations that lack expertise in this area: their chances of hiring engineers with these skills are slim because there’s less demand for them.
The “entry level engineering jobs” are becoming increasingly scarce. This is because the lack of engineers to fill these entry-level positions.
The fight for top cloud computing expertise is heating up as platform heavyweights like Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. compete with one other and the hundreds of smaller companies racing to extend their usage of the technology.
During the epidemic, demand for internet tools soared as individuals worked, educated, and amused themselves from the comfort of their own homes. As a result of this trend, several businesses are having difficulty finding employees to staff their Web operations, resulting in the largest current talent shortage in the IT sector.
Brio Systems Inc., a Covid-19 testing company, sought to expand its cloud capabilities as the Biden administration required additional coronavirus testing. Companies vying for talent have considerably sped up the interview process as demand for cloud engineers has increased, according to Brio Chief Executive Boris Lipchin. Competitor offers are increasingly being offered within days or even hours, rather than weeks, he added.
Mr. Lipchin said, “We need to simply say ‘no’ to business more frequently rather than taking business that we don’t believe we can, in good faith, execute effectively and dependably on” without the appropriate personnel.
Worker shortages have resulted in a variety of industries, from restaurant waiters to truck drivers, as a result of the epidemic. When Covid-19 sparked a surge of fresh demand, businesses were already attempting to figure out what to do about the limited pool of skilled engineers. According to Emsi, a labor and economics research company, yearly cloud job listings increased by more than 90% between 2017 and 2020, which is more than four times the pace of total IT employment growth over the same period.
‘It’s extremely horrible,’ says the narrator. A company’s constraints are constantly there, and our constraint is engineering talent.’”
— Neo4j CEO Emil Eifrem
According to Emsi, there will be 775,022 cloud computing jobs available in 2020, increasing 94 percent from the 400,500 positions available in 2017. In contrast, over same time period, all IT job listings increased by approximately 20%. And it seems that trend will continue this year, with cloud computing job listings up almost 31% in the nine months through September, compared to a roughly 8% increase in total IT job ads over the same time, according to Emsi.
“Cloud computing is still the most in-demand talent,” Megan Slabinski, a district president at recruitment company Robert Half, said. “There has never been a time when demand has been greater.”
Students and engineers are devoting more time and resources to learning how to design, implement, and manage cloud computing software and infrastructure. Last year, Amazon said that by 2025, it hoped to assist in the training of 29 million individuals across the globe for cloud computing jobs.
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Last quarter, the number of individuals enrolled in Coursera Inc.’s cloud-related courses, such as “Google Cloud Fundamentals” and “Building Modern Python Applications on AWS,” rose by 240,000, a 78 percent rise over the same quarter two years earlier.
The battle for talent is also taking place at the top levels of management. Amazon’s senior vice president of engineering, operations, and product, Charlie Bell, who, according to industry sources, was crucial in the firm’s cloud division’s growth, just joined Microsoft Corp.
Microsoft said it is in talks with Amazon about employing Mr. Bell, and that the company, like many others in the IT industry, needs workers to sign noncompete agreements. Mr. Bell’s resignation was met with silence by Amazon.
Engineers have been in limited supply at smaller businesses.
Neo4j Inc., a cloud database firm, almost quadrupled its workforce to 600 people during the epidemic. In addition to increased pay, the business provided more autonomy, training, and a feeling of purpose, according to Emil Eifrem, the company’s chief executive.
He described it as “extremely terrible.” “Every business is limited by something, and engineering talent is our limitation.”
Finding managers to supervise cloud projects, according to Howie Liu, CEO of Airtable, a corporate collaboration startup, is the most difficult recruiting sector for his firm.
Bloomberg News/Bloomberg News/David Paul Morris
Airtable Inc., a corporate collaboration company, expanded from roughly 150 workers at the outbreak’s inception to over 600. The business didn’t have enough talent earlier in the epidemic to build up its product at the rate it desired, according to Chief Executive Howie Liu.
Mr. Liu said, “It’s not like a manufacturing where you need plastic or metal.” “All you need is a little bit of skill.”
Mr. Liu believes that hiring managers to supervise cloud projects is the most difficult task. A rapidly increasing value aided Airtable’s recruitment efforts, providing workers who hold stock a greater potential gain. In September 2020, the business was valued at $2.5 billion, but six months later, it was valued at $5.77 billion. Mr. Liu was able to enlist the help of Facebook to hire his chief technology officer.
Recruiters stated that people with cloud expertise often get two or three strong offers, with packages totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars and stock options. Companies may be unable to afford elite talent in certain instances, forcing them to hire and train less-skilled employees.
Some businesses attempt to keep workers from moving to direct rivals by enforcing noncompete agreements they signed. Last year, Amazon sued Brian Hall, its former vice president of marketing, for joining Google’s cloud division. Mr. Hall continues to work for Google Cloud after the two parties negotiated a secret settlement.
Noncompete agreements are permitted to be enforced in Washington state. In California, they are not enforceable. Because so much of the cloud work occurs between the major companies located there—Amazon in Seattle and Microsoft in Redmond across Lake Washington—Washington is a crucial battlefield in the industry. Google, owned by Alphabet Inc., and Oracle Corp. both have significant cloud development centers in the Seattle region.
Aaron Tilley can be reached at [email protected]
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