Jun 15, 2012

Is the cloud going to put IT professionals out of work?

One of the selling points I see from cloud providers is that they will save companies money by reducing the need for "expensive" IT staff to maintain networks/servers/etc. Sounds good, I guess, unless you are a member of that IT staff. What I hear is, "here is a way to put you out of work." Every time I see an advert for cloud services, I feel like it's a threat to my continued employment, to be honest. Am I being paranoid, or is the cloud a real risk to IT professionals' careers?


In a way it is like the transition from when every village had a blacksmith or two to the industrial age, when production of metal goods shifted to foundries.  A lot of people (and I mean a lot, look in the phone book and see how many "Smiths" are there) had to leave their profession and do something else.  Was this a good thing?  Not in the short term for many blacksmiths, and one could argue against industrialization to a degree, as long as they ignore the increased life expectancy and improved standard of living that took place for much of the industrial and post-industrial eras.  But how many former blacksmiths sons became writers or philosophers or scientists instead of following in their father's footsteps as a result of the shift?  Sure, some of them probablyi became psycopatic mass murderers, but you can't win them all.


In short, yes, I do think it is going to put some IT professionals out of work.  But there will still be a need for IT skills.  A company might not have on-site servers, for example, but it will still have a network, people will still forget their passwords, spill coffee on their laptops and [some people - you know who you are] will still download porn delivered malware.  So while I would look at broadening my technical skills, I would also give thanks to all the forgetful, clumsy, randy people who will continue providing us with problems to solve. 

Change is inevitable, and it's also painful for some people. It's quite possible that some jobs may be terminated, but others might also open up (somebody has to manage those relationships after all). So it's part of the creative destruction thing that happens in capitalism.

The trick for IT workers is to figure out how to position themselves to be in the right place to remain employed as the cloud becomes more prevalent.
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