How the developer skills shortage impacts cloud adoption

An abstract image of a cloud raining data.
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Competition continues to rise in the global business landscape as the need to deliver high-quality customer experiences remains top-of-mind for organizations across industries. To come out on top, many organizations are adopting cloud-based technologies. However, they often struggle to make progress on digital transformation efforts because they lack the technical capabilities required to implement and manage the cloud.

Furthermore, despite the need for organizations to migrate to the cloud, the cloud skills shortage remains a key challenge without a near-term solution. In fact, a recent survey by Gartner revealed that IT executives view the talent shortage as the leading barrier to adopting 64 percent of emerging technologies that enable innovation.

Against this backdrop, many are working to correct the skills gap. Academic institutions and large enterprises are training individuals on the technical skills needed to fully reap the benefits of the cloud. For example, Google is training more than 40 million people in cloud technologies to help fill this gap. Unfortunately, these initiatives don’t immediately fix the problems that need to be addressed today.

Developer teams are burdened by the talent shortage

To examine the trends, challenges and opportunities developers who build with databases are experiencing in their roles, Couchbase conducted a survey of 533 U.S. based software developers. The research found that 86 percent of respondents with roles at manager-level and above are having trouble sourcing developers with the right skill set. Additionally, 43 percent of respondents said a shortage of developers is getting in the way of productivity.

IT infrastructures continue to evolve and become more complex as emerging technologies are introduced. This doesn’t bode well for already strained developers, given that nine out of 10 respondents feel they are at or over their work capacity. Furthermore, developer workloads are increasing as new technologies are adopted. More developers are taking on responsibilities outside of their normal purview. In fact, in the last year, three out of four developers shared that they sometimes or regularly take on tasks outside of their job description.

This has had a significant impact on developers. For those that have experienced an increase in workload, 54 percent feel more stressed, 43 percent feel overwhelmed, 40 percent feel burned out and 31 percent lack work-life balance.

Perry Krug

Perry Krug is the head of developer experience at Couchbase.

What this means for organizations and DevOps teams

The cloud offers immense benefits such as scalability, flexibility and cost-efficiency, prompting organizations to migrate their operations and data to cloud platforms. The cloud empowers businesses to future-proof applications by ensuring low latency and service availability, while optimizing ROI and cultivating brand loyalty. Hybrid, multi-cloud and edge environments allow modern organizations to provide faster, smarter and more resilient applications. And as customers expect applications to always be available and performant, the more important the cloud and edge are to enterprises. This explains why cloud deployments are a top priority for IT leaders.

However, the developer skills shortage has slowed digital transformation initiatives. Another report found that organizations are finding it difficult to recruit skilled professionals.

Businesses that fail to adapt to the skills shortage will have trouble pushing out applications that provide new, innovative and dynamic online experiences, which means missed ROI opportunities.

For developers that are already spread thin, the adoption of emerging technologies means DevOps teams will need to continue to take on more. They’ll be required to learn to manage and deploy cloud technologies, while ensuring interoperability between various services, including edge, AI, security and other technologies. DevOps will also need to understand best practices for refactoring applications, while having the skills to manage applications that are both hosted in the cloud and on-premises.

The near-term solution

In order to move forward with digital transformation amid the developer skills shortage, businesses will need to adopt automation technologies to help them boost productivity. Businesses will also need to adopt familiar, easy to learn cloud-based tools to help them keep up with their day-to-day workflows.

It’s important that tools and new solutions are affordable, simple and flexible enough to easily adopt. For example, next-generation, modern cloud-based technologies (like databases) allow developers to use existing skills, including languages and frameworks that they already know. Developers can get up and running fast, giving them more time to build innovative applications for the business.

Furthermore, business leaders should bake more training into developer roles. By training developers on the skills needed to implement and sustain cloud migration, developers will be better equipped to handle digital transformation. And it’s not just a requirement, it’s what developers want. According to research by The Linux Foundation, 66 percent of developers want more training from employers to better position themselves for success.

It’ll be critical for organizations to build a culture that encourages learning and collaboration. This will help employees share what’s working and what isn’t. This will also help managers better understand employee needs, and how to improve current processes to help developers avoid burnout.


While the developer skills shortage is negatively impacting how organizations modernize, today’s enterprises are still on the hook for progressing their digital transformation efforts to provide customers with applications that are always on and always fast - without breaking the bank. Organizations can make a dent in their modernization efforts by adopting the right cloud-based and automation technologies that help developers make meaningful strides toward business goals.

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Perry Krug

Perry Krug is a Principal Architect at Couchbase focused on strategic customers. Perry has worked with hundreds of users and companies to deploy, and maintain Couchbase's NoSQL database technology. He has over 10 years of experience in high performance caching and database systems.