Lack of engineers prevents some companies from accessing the cloud

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Competition for top cloud computing talent intensifies as platform giants like Amazon.com Inc.

and Microsoft Corp.

fighting against each other and with the thousands of other companies rushing to expand their use of technology.

Demand for online tools skyrocketed during the pandemic as people worked, educated and entertained from home. This trend has left some companies struggling to find people to staff their web operations, triggering today’s greatest need for talent in the tech industry.

Covid-19 testing startup Brio Systems Inc. wanted to boost its cloud capabilities as the Biden administration imposed more testing for the coronavirus. As demand for cloud engineers has intensified, companies competing for talent have dramatically speeded up the interview process, Brio CEO Boris Lipchin said. Competitors’ offers are now made in days, if not hours, instead of the usual weeks, he said.

“We just need to say ‘no’ to businesses more often rather than taking on business that we in good faith don’t believe we can do well and reliably” without the right people, Lipchin said.

The pandemic has caused labor shortages in a variety of industries, from restaurant servers to truck drivers. With cloud computing, companies were already trying to figure out what to do with the small pool of experienced engineers when Covid-19 sparked a wave of new demand. Between 2017 and 2020, annual cloud job posts grew by more than 90%, more than four times the overall growth rate of tech jobs over the same period, according to the Labor Research firm. and the Emsi economy.

“It’s absolutely brutal. Any business is always constrained by something, and our constraint is engineering talent. ‘


– Emil Eifrem, CEO of Neo4j

In 2020, 775,022 cloud computing jobs were posted, up 94% from the 400,500 jobs posted in 2017, according to Emsi. In comparison, all tech job postings have increased by around 20% over this period. And so far this year, it looks like that trend will continue, with cloud computing jobs up nearly 31% in the nine months to September, up from an almost 8% increase in jobs. tech jobs for the same period, Emsi said.

“Cloud computing remains the most sought-after skill,” said Megan Slabinski, district chair of recruiting firm Robert Half. “Demand has never been higher.

Students and engineers spent more time and money developing the skills needed to design, build, and manage cloud computing software and infrastructure. Last year, Amazon said it aims to help train 29What can the cloud industry do to address the talent shortage? million people globally for cloud computing roles by 2025.

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Coursera online training company Inc.

says the number of people in its cloud-related courses, such as “Google Cloud Fundamentals” and “Building Modern Python Applications on AWS”, reached 240,000 in the last quarter, up 78% from the same quarter there is two years old.

The competition for talent also takes place at the highest levels of management. Charlie Bell, Amazon’s senior vice president responsible for engineering, operations, and products, who company insiders say was instrumental in creating the company’s cloud division, recently joined Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft said it was working on employment negotiations over hiring Mr. Bell with Amazon, which like many tech companies requires employees to sign non-compete agreements. Amazon declined to comment on Mr. Bell’s departure.

In small businesses, the shortage of engineers has been acute.

Cloud-based database company Neo4j Inc. nearly doubled its workforce during the pandemic to around 600 workers. To attract people, the company offered things besides higher wages, like more autonomy, training and a sense of purpose, said Emil Eifrem, managing director of the company.

“It’s absolutely brutal,” he said. “Any business is always constrained by something, and our constraint is engineering talent. “

Howie Liu, CEO of Airtable, a collaborative business startup, says finding managers to oversee cloud projects is the most difficult area of ​​hiring for his company.


Photo:

David Paul Morris / Bloomberg News

Airtable Inc., a collaborative business startup, has grown from nearly 150 employees at the start of the pandemic to more than 600. Earlier in the pandemic, the company did not have enough talent to develop its product at the rate that ‘she wished, said chief executive Howie Liu.

“It’s not like a factory where you need plastic or metal,” Mr. Liu said. “All you need is talent. “

The hardest area to hire is in managers who oversee cloud projects, Liu said. Helping Airtable recruit was a rapidly rising valuation, giving employees with equity capital greater upside potential. The company has gone from a valuation of $ 2.5 billion in September 2020 to $ 5.77 billion six months later. Mr. Liu was able to recruit his CTO on Facebook.

People with cloud skills typically receive two or three great offers, often with packages worth hundreds of thousands of dollars as well as stock options, recruiters said. In some cases, companies cannot afford the best talent and must recruit and train less skilled workers.

Some companies try to dissuade people from going to direct competitors by trying to enforce non-compete agreements that employees have signed. Last year, Amazon filed a lawsuit against former vice president of marketing Brian Hall for joining Google’s cloud unit. The two parties have reached a confidential agreement and Mr. Hall continues to work for Google Cloud.

In Washington State, companies are allowed to enforce non-compete agreements. They are inapplicable in California. Washington is a key battleground in the industry, as much of the cloud development takes place between the major players based there: Amazon in Seattle and Microsoft headquartered across Lake Washington in Redmond. Rival alphabet Inc.

Google and Oracle Corp.

also maintain large cloud development centers in the Seattle area.

Write to Aaron Tilley at [email protected]

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