Dustin Hoffman's potential career in "The Graduate" was summed up in one word: "plastics." It may take two words for IT professionals concerned about the impact that cloud computing could have on their careers: "supplier management."
As I wrote earlier this month, citing a presentation by a Unisys executive at the Cloud Computing Conference & Expo who explained how cloud computing enabled the company to trim its IT support staff, the cloud makes it simpler to move to a smaller IT staff that relies to a greater degree on outsourced relationships. Instead of hiring server administrators, database administrators, and infrastructure and network specialists, companies will be looking for folks with broader business skills who can manage multiple supplier relationships.
This opinion was seconded by executives from Microsoft, VMware and other tech companies at a roundtable hosted by HP last week. Ramin Sayar, a VP in HP's software and solutions division, even suggested a title for this new role: business relationship manager. According to a Forbes story about the event, such professionals will be more likely to have backgrounds in finance or consulting than in technology.
As cloud computing platforms become more standardized, IT organizations will need folks who can vet all of the different options and create, manage and enforce SLAs. Said Bogomil Balkansky, a product marketing VP for VMware:
You're going to have to augment the architects and the domain experts with more business-minded IT folks.
We've heard for years, of course, about the need for IT departments to become more business-oriented. (And I've gotten countless blog posts out of it.) But the coming abstraction of a broad swathe of IT infrastructure will force the issue more than any of the blog posts I (or others) have written.