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AWS Educate arms future admins with cloud skills

As the cloud evolution continues, IT professionals struggle to keep pace. The new AWS Educate service aims to train the future cloud workforce.

Technology moves quickly, but often it moves too quickly for IT teams to keep pace. One of the fundamental dilemmas of technological innovation is a lack of skilled IT pros available to capitalize on new opportunities. Overcoming the shortage of trained tech professionals is critical to the success of a new technological wave such as cloud computing. And as public cloud use rises, AWS is ensuring there are legions of trained technicians ready to capitalize on its services.

Amazon is the latest tech vendor to recognize the potential benefits of introducing its Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform to students. This month, Amazon unveiled its AWS Educate program, which enables educators and students to use cloud technology in the classroom to grow the cloud workforce.

The free AWS Educate service makes it easy for educators to take advantage of cloud-related course content, add cloud technology to their curriculum and give students hands-on cloud skills. The program will include a series of certifications, which will become important credentials for recent graduates looking for employment.

But what AWS is doing is not new. Historically, finding experienced IT pros has helped corporate customers and vendors effectively ride the latest technology waves. Previously, companies relied on third-party service providers to build and manage new technologies and applications for them. But, in most cases, it's essential to have in-house expertise to select the right options and oversee the performance of the service provider to ensure they meet obligations.

A recent survey of more than 11,000 IT and business professionals in North America by Global Knowledge, an IT and business skills training provider, found that two thirds of organizations have a skills shortage or will have one in the next 24 months. Until the market clearly defines the specific cloud skills needed, it will be difficult to educate the next definition of IT specialists. Tech vendors able to cultivate the greatest number of newly trained specialists gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

IBM recognized this opportunity early on and closely aligned itself to major universities to produce an army of new computer technicians in the 1960s and 1970s. The company encouraged software vendors supporting its mainframe systems to do the same. IBM and its confederation of software partners also established a wide array of certification programs to expand its training efforts.

A recent survey of more than 11,000 IT and business professionals in North America ... found that two thirds of organizations have a skills shortage or will have one in the next 24 months.

In the 1980s, Microsoft duplicated IBM's training tactics to assert itself as the premier provider of operating system software for a new generation of PCs. This new generation of software developers helped the PC rise in popularity -- transforming the industry and the way organizations operate.

Novell (now part of Micro Focus) followed the same successful training and certification model in the late 1980s and early 1990s -- encouraging a new generation of network engineers to become proficient in its Netware software to respond to the growing demand for PC networking and departmental computing.

As computer networking became a corporate necessity and telecommunications carriers sought to keep pace with its rising demand for data communications services, Cisco launched its Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification program in 1993. The company's success can be attributed in large part to the investment it made in making the CCIE program a market leader and one of the most highly-regarded credentials in the networking industry.

Apple and Google, among others, have also strengthened their positions in the market by making their products and services available in the classroom.

Although AWS is the clear leader in the infrastructure as a service segment of cloud, it knows continued adoption of its services is predicated on building a larger base of trained professionals able to help companies deploy AWS offerings into operations. AWS Educate is a key initiative aimed at bolstering AWS skills and encouraging broader market adoption.

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