A new survey from Technology Business Research forecasts that demand for cloud professional services will exceed $55 billion by 2020, representing an annual compound growth rate of 9 percent from the current value of $35 billion.
The TBR report suggests that security expertise is now basically a requirement to play in the category. Given the fact that security is the number one concern organizations have when adopting cloud services, the report contends that most professional services firms are not going to get very far without a firm grounding in cloud security issues.
Based on a global survey of 2,200 organizations, the survey says that even as cloud technologies mature in the years ahead, demand for professional services expertise in the cloud will continue to be driven by successive waves of emerging use cases. For example, Internet of Things (IoT) applications will be heavily dependent on a variety of cloud services.
What this means for IT service providers
The biggest challenge facing IT services providers when it comes to securing cloud services is that there is a shortage of IT people with the cloud computing and security expertise required to deliver these services. Every professional services firm that's looking to tap into this market is competing to hire the same talent, and almost any IT organization also has a job opening for anyone with cloud security expertise.
Naturally, professional services firms have an edge when it comes to being able to offer salaries and benefits. The good news for IT service providers is that in the absence of being able to hire people with cloud security expertise most of those organizations will look for external help.
A recent global security workforce report published by the IT security association (ISC)2 projects that there will be a global increase of 195,000 information security professionals in the next year, representing an almost 6 percent increase. But even assuming that the vast majority of those IT security professionals have cloud expertise, demand for cloud security expertise is likely to outstrip supply through the rest of the decade.
Demand for security expertise
The only way IT services firms can mitigate that issue is to make sure that everyone on their staffs has some level of cloud security expertise. That might represent a significant investment in training, but it’s also clear that having those skills is increasingly becoming a cost of doing business in the age of the cloud.
Obviously, the toughest part is not so much training those people as much as it is holding on to them given the competition for their expertise. The (ISC)2 report found that in 2014 one in five IT security professionals changed jobs. Given that level of churn, it’s clear that IT services firms need to do everything they can to entice IT security professionals to stay put, while also having a deep security bench to compensate for any sudden loss in institutional knowledge.
Like most great opportunities, the cost of entry for providing cloud services is not only high now; it’s only going to get more expensive. There will, of course, be some advances over time in automation to help mitigate those costs. But even then, the expertise needed to deploy those technologies will still be considerable, which means when all is said and done building and maintaining a cloud professional services practice is not going to be for the faint of heart.