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Cloud Foundry Foundation warns of developer skills gap

Business competitionWhether it is a bank, retailer or manufacturing firm, businesses are increasingly investing in digital services as a competitive advantage. This means that hiring staff with experience of modern development tools and practices is vital for all types of organizations these days.

However, attracting developers with the relevant expertise is difficult, says Abby Kearns, executive director of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, a not-for-profit organization which supports the open source Cloud Foundry platform as a service ecosystem.

"We identified a skills shortage in a report we released last year, and that is only increasing for enterprise organizations," Kearns says. "People are looking for any developer that know how to use and write applications that are on the cloud."

New cloud-native application development certification

Cloud Foundry provides a framework that enables businesses to build and operate so-called 'cloud-native' applications. This means a reliance on tools such as containers that simplify development processes, as well as adopting micro-service software architectures that provide increased resilience and flexibility compared to typical 'monolithic' applications.

The Foundation announced a new certification this week, due to launch in June, to help train developers in some of these areas. The Cloud Foundry Certified Developer programme includes an online learning course, training partner programme and certification for those who pass a performance-based exam.

The programme enables developers to verify that they have knowledge of a variety of certified Cloud Foundry distributions. This includes Huawei FusionStage, IBM Bluemix Cloud Foundry, Pivotal Cloud Foundry, SAP Cloud Platform and Swisscom Application Cloud.

"Our idea was to bring a training programme targeting developers, that taught them how to use Cloud Foundry, how it worked and how to take advantage of it, how to really do applications well on it," she says.

"Even if you have been a career developer, writing cloud native apps is a pretty new approach. And micro-services, even though Netflix has been doing it for a while, it is still a pretty new approach for many organizations to write small applications that they can iterate quickly."

Growing cloud skills shortage

There are a number of organizations that are attempting to tackle the shortage of skills around cloud computing. AWS and Microsoft have both announced training schemes in the UK for this purpose, with businesses unable to fulfill demand.

Kearns says that one of the reasons behind the demand is that many businesses have traditionally outsourced a lot of their developments skills. But, now as they focus more on creating digital systems such as mobile apps internally, there is more demand for expertise in-house.

"Ten or 15 years ago all of these organizations outsourced it as they didn't view it as strategic," she says. "But now it is strategic."

Creating banking apps is one example. "It is table stakes," Kearns explains. "I wouldn't bank with a bank that didn't offer a mobile app. Those kinds of activities are where [businesses] are pulling in automation and technology to make a change to their organization."

Kearns also says that growing interest in machine learning tools within enterprises is one indication of further demand for developer expertise around cloud-native technologies. "There is a huge opportunity to take advantage of the cognitive data and evolution around ML," she says. "In order to do that you are going to need to understand how to [create] applications to advantage of that."

Computerworld UK