As more and more schools will be making the change and moving towards cloud technologies over the coming months, Microsoft want to ensure that our customers have the full support and any issues or queries during this transition.

Planning, implementing and obtaining the right skills to ensure that this change runs as smoothly as possible concerns some IT staff, so to iron out these concerns and queries, I caught up with Greg Pearson, UK Lead for Microsoft Learning to understand a little more about these issue’s and what Microsoft as a company are doing to help our customers during this change.

Q.  What are the current issues that you see around technical skills and the move towards cloud technologies?

A. First of all, it is good news for IT professionals.  Migration to cloud technologies will open up new opportunities and avenues for professional growth, but it will require action to take advantage of them.  We will see a shift away from traditional skills as the simplification and automation of some processes will mean that only a basic level of knowledge will suffice.  There will clearly be a new emphasis on emerging technologies e.g. Hyper-V and Office 365, but also a requirement for a broader set of skills around architecture, planning, design, security and management to help realise the benefits of cloud technology business cases and provide and cost analytics.

Whilst that may sound scary to some, my simple guidance would be:

1) Obtain and leverage core skills now – these are still essential and will be for 5+ years.

2) Enhance those core skills – develop key online technology skills within products like SharePoint and Exchange to help make the move towards cloud offerings

3) Develop new skills – technologies like Windows Azure and Virtualisation

Q.  So what is Microsoft Learning doing to help our customers make this change?

A.  We are building our portfolio of training and certification for cloud technologies now.  Some of the core technology skills training is already available e.g. Virtualisation and Windows Server 2008. We have just launched our portal that helps map courses and certifications to various roles and functions - www.microsoft.com/learning/cloud

Even better news for those in the Education sector is that we have the IT Academy programme that gives extremely low cost access to broad range of elearning, certifications, courseware and additional resources that can help you prepare.  You can add IT Academy into your current software agreement or purchase it direct from Microsoft.  The beauty of this programme is that the benefits are open to all staff as well as students, so it opens up the opportunity to enhance your ICT curriculum and build in the skills needed for the IT jobs of tomorrow, but that moves us into a separate topic of discussion.