Two of the most popular cloud computing applications at the moment are backup and recovery followed by security. As neither function is particularly appreciated within IT circles, moving these processes out into the cloud doesn't generate much resistance.
But now we're starting to see more mainstream IT functions being moved into the cloud. For example, Shavlik has announced a patch management service, called PatchCloud, and a more general-purpose set of IT services in an offering called OpsCloud. IT services delivered via the cloud include asset management, virtual machine deployment and the patch-management capabilities provided by PatchCloud.
According to Terry Noonan, vice president of products for Shavlik, the new Shavlik services are primarily aimed at small to medium business customers that don't have the people or the time to perform these functions.
Of course, depending on your perspective, the Shavlik cloud computing services eliminate IT drudgery -- more and more IT processes are being automated -- or are a threat to your job. The challenge has been finding a way to introduce new approaches to systems management in a cost-effective way. The advent of IT service management as a cloud service means that new approaches to IT process management will find their way into IT shops faster than ever as other systems-management vendors embrace cloud computing.
It all comes down to adding value. If your IT job could best be described as the equivalent of a digital maintenance worker, make no mistake, vendors are actively working at the behest of senior management to eliminate the need for manual processes. Of course, a human usually can do an IT task better, but humans also tend to make a lot of mistakes. In fact, configuration errors are the number one problem most IT organizations have when it comes to managing IT.
None of this means that people should start leaving IT in droves. There are plenty of higher-level tasks that still require skills that only a human can provide. But if you don't have those skills today, you can assume you have about a year or less to start finding ways to acquire them.