There's no doubt that fundamental change is coming to enterprise IT in the form of cloud computing. It's still debatable how this change will exactly manifest itself. But whatever form it takes, the way organizations think about managing IT is definitely changing.
Instead of being builders of systems, most IT organizations will soon find themselves orchestrating IT services. Some of those services may come from private clouds managed directly by the internal IT department, but over time a lot more of them will come from external service providers.
As Adam Famularo, general manager of the Cloud Computing business unit for CA Technologies, points out, senior IT leaders will soon find themselves managing a supply chain of IT services. Some of these will be primary sources of IT services, while others will be secondary services that only come into play when there are peak loads to be processed or a primary service provider is unavailable for some reason.
We're still a long way from seeing this come to fruition, but with these changes, the way IT organizations are measured is also going to fundamentally change. Instead of being judged by how much they know about how IT works, the attribute that will be more valued is their knowledge of how to apply it.
Most people don't know how their car works, but the attribute that society values is how well you drive it. There was a time when people not only knew how their car worked, they spent a fair amount of time optimizing its performance. Today, most people just want to drive their cars as fast as they can without being penalized for speeding.
Getting to this next stage of IT evolution is going to require a lot of automation and the ability to manage the various components that make up an IT services at a much higher level of abstraction. But once we get there, not many people are going to care whether you know how to properly install and configure a virtual machine. What they will want to know is what you can do for the business with that virtual machine.
For a lot of IT people, making the transition from IT mechanic to business driver will be a significant hurdle in terms of personal development. But for those that do make that transition, the rewards stand to be great.