Jun 21, 2011

How will the adoption of cloud computing change IT staffing?


I suspect that we will all need parachutes and perhaps air sickness bags.

I'm not sure I agree that the move to the cloud will be complete by 2013. There's a lot of resistance to change, especially within complex organizations with lots of employees and amongst small businesses where there's a lack of internal IT knowledge. But CIO Magazine brings up a good point: smart IT workers ask the question, 'Am I doing work that can be done by someone else,' because that work _should_ be done by someone else, so that IT can focus on the jobs that only they can do. The best reason to move IT services to the cloud isn't to save money, it's to move your business forward. If your organization can take the menial tasks of running webservers and storage and universal communications, and outsource that to the cloud, then IT can focus on projects which only _they_ can handle because of their innate understanding of how their specific organization functions, and their knowledge of what the business needs to stay competitive. IT shouldn't just be seen as an expense, it should provide the leverage to make your business stronger.


One change in staffing which is certain to come is a growing need for people with specialized skills. The old generic Microsoft and Cisco certifications will have less meaning, and more important will be people who know information specific to certain cloud services which may not apply in a general manner to other services. This is good, because we already have a glut in the market of IT workers who have more general skills; requiring a more specific skill set will help to weed out all the potential employees an employer has to sift though.


According to this Network World article most IT pros don't fear losing their jobs to the cloud. Rather, they predict a change, and not a loss of IT roles.


In a recent survey, when asked if they thought "75% of IT jobs will no longer exist as currently defined by 2015," 64% disagreed (only 20% agreed, the rest were unsure). Likewise, some 52% disagreed with this statement: "By 2013, most IT organizations will have gone through painful restructuring; brought on by the demands of building effective private clouds and/or capitalizing on public cloud." However, one-third did agree and the rest were unsure.


Read the full article here.


That’s kind of a cynical take on the move to cloud computing. It’s going to happen, just like the move from storing data on paper to magnetic media, or the replacement of noisy, messy horses with the automobile. The trick for IT workers is to gain new skills to keep relevant in the changing marketplace, because it’s obvious today that there are not many jobs left for blacksmiths or buggy whip salesmen.


Undoubtedly it will shift where American IT jobs are found, eliminating tens of thousands of jobs for mid-level network and server support experts. These positions will transform into many fewer cloud and virtualization expert roles at commodity providers, perhaps at Amazon EC2, and allow the former IT workers the freedom to seek other types of work, perhaps in the burgeoning services market. Many of these IT roles will eventually be offshored to India and China, where cloud hosting will become cheaper and more available than through an American cloud services company.

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