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Cloud Computing Creates New Roles in IT

Integration will be important in hybrid world

By PEGGY ALBRIGHT

More and more businesses are becoming comfortable with cloud computing. While it’s still early in the evolution to this new computing paradigm, adoption is proceeding at a rapid pace. The market has reached the tipping point that affirms a new technology’s market viability and validates expectations of continued momentum.

Corporations turn to cloud computing for more agile and responsive IT functions at a cost savings. Cloud computing also helps companies avoid procuring their own components or building their own infrastructure. Now they can consider new solutions when it’s time to upgrade or renew legacy software.

The recent acceptance of cloud indicates that cloud-based solutions are thought of as reliable, secure, easily accessed, and responsive to social media and mobile applications.

The IT industry recognizes that the transformation to cloud computing will have a broad and substantial impact on jobs, either by creating new roles or changing or replacing others. While some jobs will be impacted, cloud experts view the trend overall as positive.

“It’s going to be a very exciting time to be in IT,” said Andrew Greenway, cloud computing program lead at Accenture.

Technical roles will remain essential

Greenway believes that computing professionals will find many opportunities to provide technical services within their organizations. Companies will need people who can use development tools for the specific cloud solutions a company might adopt. Companies will also have a particularly important need for people who can perform integration work.

Greenway stressed that corporations cannot simply swap out their legacy systems for new cloud approaches. Companies will need to manage their new cloud services along with legacy IT systems, and the process will require staff that can provide security, data management, and data analytics, among other skills. He added that companies are finding it quite complicated to manage both new and legacy systems and they will need to find ways to make them work together.

“I think we’re going to live in a hybrid world for a long time,” he said. “The skills people have built over the years will be very valuable for many years to come, so you shouldn’t panic.”

IT professionals will find new business roles

The cloud technologies that are coming to market make it possible to develop new applications in days and weeks rather than years--and companies will expect those working on their cloud applications to implement the new applications quickly. Gone are the days when the IT department could put a business executive’s project quest into a queue of projects. That bureaucratic approach “just won’t cut it” anymore, Greenway said.

For IT staff to excel in this environment, individuals will need to understand the overall business context for a new application, what the business needs to get from it, and how to use the relevant cloud-based tools and capabilities to quickly create the IT solution to support the business strategy.

Management will expect their staff to have type of understanding to facilitate rapid and effective use of the technology. While this will require a change in thinking and how they approach projects, IT professionals will find a “tremendous” number of new opportunities to use their IT skills to support business functions, Greenway said.

“There is going to be a lot closer relationship between business and IT in the future,” he said.

DevOps

Another way in which jobs will evolve is represented by a new type of role, called DevOps. The term refers to a role that blends or coordinates functions previously conducted separately by developers and operations personnel. In a conventional business, the two entities often do not collaborate, let alone communicate with each other, but with cloud computing, some of these roles can be merged.

“Not everybody is ready for this, but those who are, are seeing huge benefits in how quickly they can develop apps and put them in production and deploy them,” said Marten Mickos, CEO of Eucalyptus Systems, one of the first private cloud companies, which provides a platform for IaaS clouds.

Mickos said that those performing DevOps roles will use many traditional systems and administrative tools as well as new tools that are coming up in the cloud. The cloud management tool offered by Eucalyptus’ partner RightScale, for example, illustrates how these tools can be used to create a common structure for development and operators. The RightScale cloud management tool can be used not only to spin up a cloud, but to manage it, assign resources, and authorize users, among many other functions.

Cloud + social + mobile

Salesforce.com, another cloud pioneer and a company to pay attention to for trends in PaaS and SaaS, is striving to pioneer a next step in the cloud evolution that incorporates social and mobile technologies into enterprise software.

Woodson Martin, senior vice president for recruiting at Salesforce.com, said that many key skills that are needed now, and will be needed in the future, are skills that address the convergence of cloud computing, mobile applications, and social networking and other trends that are originating in consumer technologies. These concurrent trends are revolutionizing enterprise IT and creating an “enormous opportunity for people with the right skills to build careers,” he said.

Martin acknowledged that many of the most valuable engineers in his company built their careers working with more traditional technologies but they’ve proven their ability to work with new platforms and technologies and are highly valued in the company because of this. The ability to adapt, work collaboratively in tight-knit teams, integrate quickly, and deliver results quickly are just as important as so-called hard computing skills and will differentiate a computing expert in similar, new business environments, he said.

“You need to be constantly learning,” he advised.

Martin said there are plentiful numbers of roles at Salesforce.com for software engineers, performance engineers, user experience designers, sales engineers, and software architects. And there are plentiful numbers of roles in companies that use its cloud platforms for people who can build, test and implement applications and manage projects.

Jobs at cloud firms

The shift toward cloud computing is prompting so much innovation that new companies are emerging all the time. Byron Deeter, a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, said that hundreds of cloud companies have been created in the SaaS, PaaS and IaaS categories, even though the cloud industry is still very early in its evolution and represents just a fraction of the larger software and computing industries. Many of the new cloud firms are growing rapidly, Deeter said, and many are hiring. Most jobs can be found in firms that provide SaaS, which is by far the largest cloud sector compared to PaaS and IaaS.

Deeter listed a number of companies he’s aware of that have been in hiring mode lately. These include firms in the human resources field, such as the recent cloud IPOs LinkedIn and Cornerstone OnDemand, and the pre-IPO firm, Workday. Content management startups that have been hiring include Box.net and Dropbox. Jobs can be found in the startup enterprise social media firms such as Jive, and the marketing demand generation company Eloqua. He added that VMWare, the well-established virtualization firm, also continues to hire, he said. And it should be noted that Eucalyptus also has a number of jobs listed on its website. CW (7 May, 2012)

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