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Three keys to building cloud fluency across your organization

Certifications aren’t enough for cloud skills fluency in cloud computing environments. Cloud engineers need a range of knowledge, experience, and skill sets.

Jul 12, 2023 • 6 Minute Read

Learn more trends from our 2023 State of Cloud report
  • Cloud
  • Engineering Leadership
  • Business
  • Professional Development
  • Learning & Development

Cloud is the backbone of modern business, enabling agility, scalability, and innovation like never before. But here's the thing: Relying solely on certifications as your go-to skill development strategy might actually be limiting the potential of your cloud engineers.

Sure, certifications are important, and they have their place in validating knowledge and expertise. But treating them as the only tactic in your skill development arsenal falls short of what your organization truly needs to thrive in the cloud-first era.

Unlock the potential of your cloud engineers with our three keys to driving cloud fluency across your organization.

3 keys to driving cloud fluency across your org

1. Understand the value of cloud certifications

Cloud certifications are the easiest (and most common) way leaders try to develop cloud skills.  They build base-line literacy and understanding. Whether candidates are new to the cloud or looking to dive into an advanced topic, cloud certifications provide the language and concepts that are foundational to success in the cloud.

What are the top cloud certifications?

Picking the right certification for your teams to chase depends on the cloud technologies you currently use in-house, the level of understanding your teams already have with cloud tools, and how you want them to use the certification in their roles moving forward.

If you want non-technical teams to understand cloud terms . . .

Educating non-technical teams about cloud tools and terminology shows you’re invested in building a culture of cloud—something less than 40% of organizations do. It creates stronger relationships between your organization as a whole and your cloud teams and mitigates some security risks since the teams using cloud tools understand how they work and why.

Common cloud certifications at this level are:

If you want to upskill the technical engineers you already have on staff . . .

Leaders have struggled to hire advanced cloud engineers over the past several years. The solution? Upskill the talent you have. 

If you’re one of the 31% of organizations with a defined cloud strategy, figuring out what skills you need to develop is easy. Evaluate your team’s skills, map them to your existing cloud strategy, and look for the gaps. Then incentivize your cloud engineers to fill those gaps.

Check out our certification guides for AWS, Azure, and GCP to learn which certification is right for you:

If you want your cloud teams to specialize in advanced topics . . .

Some cloud teams may be large enough to have their cloud engineers specialize in things like cloud architecture, cloud data analytics, or cloud security. If your environment is multicloud, you might want some technologists on your team to specialize in non-platform tools like Kubernetes or Terraform.

Some common certifications for cloud specialists are:

2. Add hands-on experiences to level up cloud skills

Certifications are infinitely more valuable when paired with real-life (or even simulated) experience. Just because someone passed the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam doesn’t mean you should trust them to jump straight into your AWS environment.

Instead, give your cloud engineers opportunities to apply their theoretical knowledge within simulated environments with hands-on tools. They get the practical experience that takes them from cloud literate to cloud fluent but with none of the business risk.

There are two types of hands-on experiences: guided and customized.

Guided labs and sandbox environments

Guided labs and sandbox environments are offered by cloud service providers and third-party learning platforms. They simulate real-world cloud challenges and give users an opportunity to solve them without compromising your production environments. So it’s no surprise that leaders and cloud engineers listed them as the most useful tool for developing cloud skills. 

Customized hands-on experiences

Customized solutions do more than teach the platforms. They teach technologists how to work in your specific environment. In fact, 88% of respondents believe it’s important for labs to be customized to their environments, with 91% reporting the same for cloud sandboxes.

For cloud newbies, hands-on experiences allow them to acclimate themselves to your tech stack and put their theoretical knowledge to the test before you hand them the keys to your castle. For experienced cloud pros, sandboxes, in particular, let your cloud engineers test new ideas, develop proofs of concept for those ideas, and learn more advanced cloud skills.


Download the 2023 State of Cloud report for the latest cloud computing trends.


3. Build a culture of continuous learning

The cloud landscape is changing all the time. Google alone launched 1,300 new services in the first half of 2022, and AWS announced a host of new services as well as usability and security improvements for existing ones. Your cloud skill development strategy should support your cloud engineers as they develop and improve their cloud skills. 

Leaders at Wells Fargo created a “Technology College” to foster continuous learning among their teams. They built out career and development paths to provide their team benchmarks, offered tools like courses, labs, and sandboxes to assist in learning journeys, and created a network of 36,000 unique learners in their first year. At the beginning of 2022, they put an emphasis on cloud skills. By the end of 2022, 5,000 employees were cloud-certified.

If you don’t create a learning strategy that allows employees to continue growing their skills, they’re going to find somewhere that will. Half of technologists looking to leave their roles in the next year are doing so to grow their responsibilities and skill sets. Ultimately, it’s a win-win. Your technologists build more efficient and secure cloud solutions and learn skills to help them grow their professional careers.

Dive headfirst into cloud skills with Pluralsight’s cloud transformation solution


Pluralsight Content Team

Pluralsight C.

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