The Impact of Cloud Computing on IT Jobs
Ben Brumm
DEC 03, 2012 08:00 AM
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If you've been working in the IT industry for any length of time, you've probably heard of the term "cloud computing". Cloud computing is essentially the use of computing resources to deliver services to users over the internet. As many have expected, this concept has changed the way that hardware and software is used.

Many jobs will change because of cloud computing. Some job roles will likely have reduced demand, some will have more demand, and even some new jobs will be created — both within and outside of IT.

Jobs with reduced demand

There are, unfortunately, some jobs in the IT industry that are predicted to have less demand in the future, now that organizations are moving their systems to cloud services. The main advantage of cloud computing is the ability to scale hardware and software as required by organizations, by an external cloud provider — resulting in quicker implementation times and less cost.

This means there will be less demand or jobs such as system administrators and database administrators. IT professionals with these skills would likely be in demand from cloud providers, rather than the companies using the system. Also, due to the ability to scale, there may be less demand overall.

The pre-cloud computing method was to have locally or internal systems and servers, which were managed by internal staff or contractors. With cloud computing, the internal servers are no longer needed, since they can be supplied by cloud providers. These cloud providers have their own administration and support staff, handling multiple companies, which reduces the need for internal system administrators.

Much of the help desk support functionality will be moved over to cloud providers. System support staff would still be needed, but also employed by cloud providers and in lower numbers, since they would be responsible for a wider range of companies on centralized infrastructure.

Workers who have these skills could possibly be retrained — that's a common suggestion with the studies that have been done — but it does depend on the individuals and the particular skills they have.

Hewlett Packard is reducing staff numbers to focus on "its three areas of strategic focus: cloud, big data, and security." Autodesk, which makes architectural and engineering software, is planning to reduce staff numbers to "shift to more cloud and mobile computing." These are just two examples of companies restructuring areas related to cloud computing.

Jobs with Continued Demand

There will still be demand for IT project managers; companies will still need projects executed and teams will still need to be managed. Their knowledge will need to include concepts of cloud computing and how it can impact the projects they work on, but this will come with experience.

Business analysts will also be in demand. Companies will need software and systems that reflect their requirements and business processes. The business analysts will also need to expand their knowledge so they know how to include cloud-related services and software in their roles.

Software developers should also continue to be in demand. Software will still need to be created. However, this role is hard to predict. Some sources say that software development will lessen because software will be largely already created and it will just need to be provisioned and configured for companies. Others say the process will remain pretty much the same.

New Jobs Created

Several studies, including one article published by Forbes, state that many new jobs will be created as a result of the cloud. New companies will be formed to provide cloud computing and other related services. New job titles will be created.

There is likely to be an emphasis in the future on relationship management, vendor interaction, and cloud infrastructure management. People working at cloud providers will need the skills to be able to communicate with companies that they provide services for and provide information to — this will require the rare blend of relationship management and technical knowledge.

One of the more common roles that have appeared is that of a cloud architect. Similar to an enterprise architect, a cloud architect is someone who has knowledge of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and cloud concepts, as well as enterprise architect skills.

Also, more jobs will be moved from individual organizations into the cloud service providers. This means that new skills may be needed — so IT professionals may wish to improve their knowledge on cloud services and relationship management soon.

Should You Be Worried?

Should you be worried about your job as an IT professional? In short, no. Just like in most jobs, if you're good at your job, you should have a good chance of staying employed. Companies like to keep their best employees. One way to help keep a job in the IT industry is to improve your knowledge and skills in areas needed for a future with cloud computing. If your knowledge is purely Microsoft Exchange server administration, for example, you may wish to expand your knowledge, as this functionality is likely to be handled by cloud providers.

By Ben Brumm, business analyst and founder of the Complete IT Professional website, which provides information and advice to IT professionals.

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