When Ken Stephens, a senior vice president of Xerox Cloud Services, tried to hire a product manager from IBM recently, he had quite a shock. "I offered him a 40 percent raise," Stevens said in an interview. "But then IBM came back and gave him 20 percent on top of that."
Not every IT pro who has a résumé chock-full of cloud-related skills will be the object of a bidding war, of course. But in the last eight months or so, "the light has gone on in the heads of CIOs and CEOs, and a gap between supply [of IT personnel with skills for the cloud] and demand has opened up," says David Foote, whose consultancy, Foote Partners, keeps close track of IT compensation, certifications, and employment.
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Although salaries aren't spiking at the pace of the old dot-com days, times are good for those with the right skills and the flexibility to learn how to develop, deploy, and manage applications and services in the cloud. Foote's observation regarding the limited supply of top-flight engineers and developers to work on cloud-related projects is borne out by interviews with six of the leading public cloud providers. All are hiring rapidly; all say talent is now at a premium.
Tim James, director of recruiting for Rackspace, mixes his metaphors a bit, but is absolutely clear about the search for engineers. "We're in a war for talent. Talk to Amazon, or LinkedIn, or Salesforce. We're all fishing from the same pond," he says.
Cloud skills forecast: Hot
How many jobs are out there? The lines between the cloud, big data, SaaS, and more conventional architectures are blurred, but you can get a sense of the breadth of demand by looking at Dice, one of the largest IT-oriented job boards.
As of August, there were 10,771 jobs in six categories that Dice deems cloud-related, compared to 8,217 the year before, an increase of 31 percent. A look at the categories that comprise Dice's cloud set -- vCloud, cloud, VMware, virtualization, Xen, and Hyper-V -- shows how hard it is to get an accurate handle on demand, as some also pertain to traditional IT data center consolidation and other skills, such as Linux and Python. They're often cloud-related but not classified as such on the job board.
Wanted Analytics, a Quebec-based firm that tracks employment statistics, believes the market for cloud skills is even hotter. The company counted advertisements appearing in April for 12,000 cloud-related IT jobs, an increase of 50 percent over 2011, and 275 percent over 2010. Talent in many areas is so tight it's taking weeks to fill positions. In Seattle, the area with the most pressing labor shortage, cloud-related jobs are going begging for an average of seven weeks, Wanted Analytics reported. A third job service, Indeed.com, says that jobs with the keyword "cloud" in its database jumped from 18,862 in August 2011, to 31,998 in August 2012, an increase of 70 percent.