Cloud's Impact on IT Jobs: Evolution, not Wholesale Elimination


I hope I haven't contributed to the apparent perception in some quarters that huge numbers of IT jobs will simply vanish as companies move toward broader use of cloud computing. In July I wrote about the need for data center professionals to build their people and process skills, which will become more important in the shift to cloud computing models. I reiterated the point in November, sharing remarks made by a Unisys executive at the Cloud Computing Conference & Expo that illustrate the cloud's ability to help companies move to smaller IT staffs that rely to a greater degree on outsourced relationships.


Frost & Sullivan analyst Vanessa Alvarez, writing for InformationWeek, takes a tempered view, noting that IT pros will play a key role in migrating their organizations to cloud models, which for many companies will include a virtual private cloud and on-premise applications in addition to some components of a public cloud. Alvarez is convinced the cloud will be a good thing for enterprise IT, ultimately viewed as a more strategic business function..


I agree with her. The cloud will lead to an evolution of IT jobs, not a wholesale elimination. Still, as with most evolutions, species that want to survive will have to undergo some pretty major changes.


The good news: The move to the cloud will "take some time, from an operational, technological and organizational perspective," says Alvarez. So IT pros won't have to develop new skill sets overnight. Still, they will have to develop them. She writes:

IT professionals looking to evolve their roles will need to learn how to work more closely with other business units, and to help others understand the new requirements, limits, and benefits of the new model. These "people" skills -- sometimes called "soft" skills, have often been lacking in IT organizations, but will become critical as cloud computing inevitably brings together several different business units.

IT Business Edge's Mike Vizard made a similar point about the need for new IT skills earlier this month. He wrote:

But even as the infrastructure and, in some cases entire applications, move into the cloud, somebody still needs to manage and integrate these services on behalf of the business. That person may not look like the classic enterprise IT person we know today. Instead, they will probably be a much more business-centric IT person. But whoever they are, the process of governing IT services in the cloud via various policies engines will still need to be done.

Vizard's advice to IT pros:

[They] should be positioning themselves to be the general contractors of a rich set of integrated services, as opposed to being seen as the people that maintain a whole lot of underutilized hardware and software that the rest of the business views as a fixed asset that needs to be eliminated.