Reed says professionals who are experts in cloud computing, software as a service and virtualization are in high demand, but those with combined skills in server, software and networking are the most sought after in the current IT job market.
Reed advises senior IT staff looking for cloud talent to realistically set their expectations. "At this stage you're not going to find a cloud project manager who has five migrations under their belt. You'll be lucky to find them with more than one," Reed says.
More than a dozen CIOs, headhunters and IT training professionals interviewed for this article contend that veteran IT professionals who have had the time, inclination and opportunity over the past year or two to get cross-educated or pick up on-the-job cloud experience are few and far between.
Steve Caniano, vice president of cloud strategy and business development at AT&T Business Solutions, oversees both the company's growing cloud services business and a team of thousands of IT professionals supporting that venture. "There are just not enough folks that have mastered the cloud yet," says Caniano, who expects that it will be at least five years before the supply of cloud professionals will meet the demand.
"It's a seller's market. And for the foreseeable future, we are going to have to be willing to pay a premium to get this cross-disciplined cloud talent," says Grimes, adding that the best place to look for them at the moment is in the consulting world.
According to salary statistics published by several sources, Grimes is going to have to pay a good bit more.
Data collected by Dice.com, a leading career site for technology and engineering professionals, shows that cloud has been one of the fastest growing skill segments, with related job postings up 72% over last year. That comes out to more than 3,800 positions listed on any given day. To put that into context, overall tech jobs on Dice are up only 4% year over year.
Dice.com data also shows that cloud computing professionals in the United States this year will earn on average, $92,830, compared to the median $81,327 tech salary.
Robert Half Technology research, according to Reed, shows that cloud computing related salaries are continuing to rise between 8% to 10% annually, compared with 3% to 4% growth in the average IT salary. In research the firm conducted for its 2013 Salary Guide (to be released next week [Oct. 15]) the hiring environment is only going to be tougher next year.
The report states that as the pool of qualified candidates shrinks, and demand grows, competition for IT professionals with mobile, big data, cloud and virtualization experience will receive multiple offers and hold much of the bargaining power.