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Cloud computing skills shortage forces CIOs to grow their own

Meridith Levinson | April 12, 2012
When Majestic Realty Co., a Los Angeles-based commercial real estate developer, moved to Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) for cloud-based email in early 2011, CIO Jon Grunzweig was shocked by the lack of technical support he found for BPOS in the marketplace.

A year later, Grunzweig says he has a handful of consulting companies in the Los Angeles area that he can call who have a better understanding of how to back-up data in his company's private cloud. But, he is quick to add, "there is still a void of information."

Even consultants agree that CIOs will have to focus on shoring up their internal staffs' cloud computing know-how.

"By 2016, there will be more deployments of software in the cloud than on premise," says TriBridge's Pierce. "If that holds true, then right now you can't afford not to build those skills in your organization. The best way to build talent is to start doing cloud deployments and learn as you go."

David Nichols, CIO Services Leader for Ernst & Young, agrees. "The vast majority of these skills will have to be rebadged," he says. "CIOs will have to take a component of their workforces and get them skilled and up to speed. A lot of this will be trial by fire."

As Majestic Realty's experience shows, the "learn as you go" approach to cloud deployments is fraught with lessons learned, but right now it's the company's only viable option. Despite the difficulties Majestic Realty faced getting answers to their BPOS questions, Grunzweig's staff still managed to complete the project on schedule, migrating the whole company in groups over a six-week period.

The benefit of the "learn as you go" approach is that it results in a stronger, more knowledgeable IT staff--and one that will be better prepared to work on additional cloud deployments that Grunzweig is contemplating, such as cloud-based virus protection and CRM. Clearly, the challenges Grunzweig and staff have encountered migrating to cloud-based email and data back-up have not scared them off.

"Luckily," says Grunzweig, "I have an incredibly talented, experienced team."

Meridith Levinson covers Careers, Security and Cloud Computing for Follow Meridith on Twitter @meridith. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Meridith at


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