Will Developers' Role Evaporate in the Cloud?

Susan Hall
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The Impact of Cloud Computing

The primary driver for cloud computing adoption is shifting from costs to agility.

James Urquhart, a longtime blogger for CNET and now writing for GigaOm, refers to cloud computing as an application-centric operations model, an exciting, more agile switch from the server-based paradigm.


He writes that the changing relationship between hardware and software will call for re-evaluation of roles within the IT department and will increase pressure to reduce customization. He argues for developer-friendly, cloud-focused ecosystems to languages such as Ruby on Rails or Java or other innovative approaches to cloud development that will attract software developers.


However, Silicon.com editor Steve Ranger sees cloud computing through a far less rosy lens. He argues that the Lego-like component structure of cloud computing could kill off programming altogether at most shops. He writes:

In this new cloud computing world, so the argument goes, any element needed to build an application will already exist on the Web somewhere, so all that will be needed is for someone to connect up this series of ready-made modules and APIs in order to create a new application.
In this scenario, no coding is required, or at least not at the level that it is done today - we need architects, but can do without builders.

And he quotes Don Ferguson, CTO at CA Technologies, saying:

We aren't going to write programs anymore, we are going to find something and configure it. No more programming - that's the way IT is going to be.

He also thinks the whole bring-your-own-device movement will turn users into reluctant application developers. I think Ranger is sounding alarms unnecessarily at least on that front. The whole BYOD trend is based on workers' demands to use consumer devices they consider better than those provided in the enterprise. And many in business units are only too happy to whip out their credit cards for an online application that better suits their unique needs.


My colleague Ann All wrote about the insights of Oracle's Global Client Advisor Joe Jorczak about IT pros' evolving role in app development. Rather than creating application code, he predicts IT pros will instead design tools, objects and environments that will enable business users to build their own apps, a shift that will "bring new talent and creativity into the IT environment." He writes:

The successful IT professional of 2020 will interact with users more like the Apple Genius Bar consultant does today, advising people on new ways to use the technology, and will look less like the car mechanic taking apart an engine and struggling to explain how all the parts fit together and why it costs so much to fix.

With a shift as disruptive as cloud computing, many roles will change as well. Those who want to remain builders no doubt will find positions to do so, though those jobs might be far different from those roles of the past.

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