Under Cloud, Will Data Center Jobs Dry up or Move up Value Chain?


About two months ago, I asked if any IT job would look the same in a decade as it does today. I seriously doubt it. Look at the CIO. Long considered a technical role, many experts say CIOs need to focus less on technology, and more on process optimization.


And folks will need to figure out how to combine their technical chops with a broader business aptitude throughout the IT organization, not just in the C-suite. Thanks to the disruptive potential of cloud computing, this shift will likely be felt acutely in the data center, I pointed out in this post. Once again, I gave in to my weakness for overly cutesy headlines, suggesting "old data center dogs must learn new tricks."


A CIO.com article making the same point has a not-so-cutesy headline, The Tech Jobs That the Cloud Will Eliminate. It notes, as I did in that post from May, that analysts are quite bullish about cloud computing growth. Yet several experts interviewed by CIO.com say it'll be at least a decade before a major move to the cloud occurs. New jobs may be generated at first, since the cloud is typically employed for new applications. Service providers like Google and Amazon will need to hire more folks as the cloud's popularity grows, but not in huge numbers as their value propositions are based on running largely automated infrastructures.


As with CIOs, data center professionals will need to focus more on "white-collar IT," says Forrester analyst Ted Schadler:


The cloud is accelerating that movement of technology into the business, with business-process-level expertise becoming more important than ever.


The "blue-collar IT" jobs most at risk, according to the article, are server administrators, database administrators, and infrastructure and network specialists.


Professionals formerly employed by large enterprises may find work helping mid-size companies with their cloud deployments. Supplier management, always a valued skill, will become even more important as companies move more functions to the cloud. Integration specialists who can merge in-house applications with SaaS apps will also be in demand.


Other advice from the CIO.com article:

  • Develop an expertise in a specific, high-end technology area such as virtualization or storage area networking.
  • Log some experience managing a SaaS provider.
  • Consider other growth areas, including analytics and mobile applications.