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Why learning to code Alexa skills is a gateway to cloud computing

By Drew Firment  |  January 03, 2018  |   Career Enterprise   |  
 
 Lack of Cloud Expertise is the #1 Challenge
  

There are radical economic shifts underway. Society is moving from commodity-based capital toward intellectual capital. Not only will repetitive manufacturing jobs be wiped-out mundane white-collar work will also be eliminated. The jobs of the future will be those which can’t be done by robots or replaced by artificial intelligence.

 

“We have an opportunity to fill the hundreds of thousands of vacant American jobs that aren’t being automated. These are the jobs that involve telling those machines what to do. The programming jobs.” — Quincy Larson

 

So where will these programming jobs exist? For those willing to invest in developing the intellectual capital necessary to compete in the new economy, all trends point to the public cloud.

In 2017, an estimated $122.5 billion was invested in public cloud services. The cloud segment is growing fast — with spend expected to increase 30% annually to $203 billion by 2020. Expectations are most bullish for cloud applications and cloud infrastructure to over perform. Customer demand for IaaS and SaaS cloud components will accelerate as they pursue digital business strategies. 

All of this spending on public cloud is creating a massive demand for skills. In CompTIA’s recent outlook, they noted IDC’s anticipation of 7 million cloud-related jobs — many from existing positions which will be re-engineered with a heavy cloud focus.

 

But cloud talent is in short supply — and the scarcity of cloud computing skills is now the #1 impediment for companies with major cloud initiatives.

As a result, cloud-fluent developers are now commanding some of the highest paying jobs. One of the top paying IT certifications is Amazon Web Services, with an average salary of $125,871. 

 

The Rise of Serverless Architecture 

The cloud is also going through a radical change — one that mimics the economic shift from commodity-based capital toward intellectual capital. Repetitive virtual machines will be wiped out, and mundane white-collar maintenance scripts will be eliminated. The cloud of the future will be driven by “functions as a service” that can’t be performed by server-based infrastructure or platform services.

 

“Today, another shift is taking place, to event driven functions, because the underlying constraints have changed, costs have reduced, and radical improvements in time to value are possible.” — Adrian Cockcroft

 

A simple and engaging way to explore cloud computing services and the new concept of event driven “serverless” functions is by developing a custom Alexa skill with a free intro course from A Cloud Guru. It’s a fun and engaging entry point into the API-driven world of cloud computing and emerging serverless architecture patterns.

While Alexa is still in the early stages of adoption, it’s clear that voice interaction is a breakout technology. Since Amazon opened Alexa to developers, well over 25,000 custom skills in the US have been developed for the service. Underlying the growth of Alexa is a key innovation by Amazon Web Services that is fueling a majority of the custom skills — a service called Lambda.

AWS Lambda is an event-driven, serverless computing platform provided by Amazon as a part of the Amazon Web Services. It is a compute service that runs code in response to events and automatically manages the compute resources required by that code.  When a user invokes an Amazon Alexa skill, it triggers an event via an API call. AWS Lambda makes it easy to execute a function in response to the event. And since AWS Lambda currently supports functions written in Node.js, Python, C#, and Java — it’s easy for developers that are already familiar with those common languages to build functions.

 

“Many people in the U.S. and around the world lack the education and skills required to participate in the great new companies coming out of the software revolution. There’s no way through this problem other than education, and we have a long way to go.” — Marc Andreessen


Get Started Today 

To get started with Amazon Alexa and AWS Lambda, I encourage you take a few easy steps toward building marketable cloud skills. A Cloud Guru offers a free Alexa course that’ll walk you through the entire development process — from creating an account through publishing the skill.

GET STARTED


 Once you’ve mastered the basic concepts of skill development, explore the Alexa Github repository of templates to try more complex skills. After publishing your skill, just fill out a simple form to get a free swag from Amazon!

 

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