Skills shortages hurt SA’s cloud ambitions

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Quentin Geldenhuys, technologist and solution architecture manager, Red Hat.
Quentin Geldenhuys, technologist and solution architecture manager, Red Hat.

With the cloud now underpinning business transformation, the skills gap in the country cannot be ignored any longer, as companies are struggling to stay ahead of the game, says a senior industry executive.

Quentin Geldenhuys, technologist and solution architecture manager for sub-Saharan Africa at Red Hat, says addressing the challenge of shortages in cloud engineers and key employees in SA remains paramount.

A recent report by the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering found that, despite the hype around the fourth industrial revolution in SA, there remains a chronic shortage of all types of ICT skills required to help local companies succeed in the digital economy.

“The brain drain is something that cannot be ignored,” Geldenhuys says, adding that Red Hat has a number of initiatives to help the skills shortage gap.

“Number one is a development academy where individual learners are trained, certified and placed in the field to gain the much-needed practical experience. Secondly, we have a very active Red Hat academy programme where we partner with universities to build out a skills curriculum based on what we see as a demand coming from the market,” explains Geldenhuys.

Additionally, he says, a comprehensive training ecosystem, ranging from self-learning to classroom-based training with a certified training provider, will help to overcome the status quo.

For SA, having skills in cloud computing has become a priority, and analysts say this has potential to accelerate the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, but this will only be unlocked if the fundamentals are in place.

These fundamentals cover the policy environment, infrastructure and skills development.

Recent research by the South African SDG Hub at the University of Pretoria argues that four fundamentals must be in place before cloud computing can really be harnessed to help drive development.

Speaking in an interview with ITWeb at the sidelines of the Red Hat Forum, in Johannesburg, Geldenhuys, also explained the role that government could play in helping develop the cloud market in SA.

“We've seen success where government supports the move to cloud without being too prescriptive or tied down in policy,” he says.

Geldenhuys adds: “At Red Hat, we always refer to our communities being the lifeblood, where change and innovation is taking place. The role government can play is to be a facilitator in building out a strong community of providers, users and much-needed skills, to provide a platform where collaboration can take place, while allowing flexibility to build and consume based on the unique requirements.”

Turning to the cloud migration strategy for companies and the key considerations prior to migration, he says: “Customers are looking to cloud to minimise costs, increase their service delivery and provide a better service to their customer base.”

Geldenhuys notes: “There are a number of factors to consider, namely data sovereignty, the cost of egress data and, most importantly, application readiness. At Red Hat, we work with our customers to build out a migration path to mitigate these risks and minimise business impact, while aiming to help our customers succeed in their key goals.”

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