IT jobs

Susan Hall

IDC analyst Shawn McCarthy recently wrote of the with cloud computing:

... even as some jobs will go away, others will evolve in dynamic new ways. ... many IT shops, including government IT facilities, will become less about systems operation and maintenance and more about operating as centers of information technology expertise for their organizations. Workers will take on evaluation and advisory roles, essentially becoming service brokers who are able to leverage their specific knowledge to help ask the right questions and judge details about the correct technologies for specific solutions. They also may be called upon to establish price points and effective platforms for those solutions.

His take lines up with an InfoWorld piece looking at the winners and losers on the job front in this new paradigm. It cites the view of Dan Olds, founder of consultancy Gabriel Consulting Group, that the cloud levels the playing field for non-technical people more than the PC did by offering them access to the most sophsticated software, storage and data with or without IT's involvment.

What does this mean for IT pros? The article quotes research firm 451 Group analyst Sean Hackett, saying:

It's not a matter of throwing out all the job descriptions and organization and starting something new. There are a lot of commonalities, but the experience will change. Ultimately the bulk of IT could look more like a projects office than the way it looks now, when most of the hands-on work is done inside. It probably won't be a total transformation, but moving into cloud, there will be more of that and less DIY.

Here's the article's assessment of the effects to nine classes of IT jobs:

Big winner: enterprise architects. As our Mike Vizard has pointed out, as applications run in the cloud, The article quotes Chris Wolf, a virtualization and cloud analyst at Gartner, saying:

Underneath all the abstraction there is just as much of a need to manage the details of resource management and performance as with physical servers. Instead of only having to deal with the number of variables, you might have within one server farm or data center or smaller set of servers, in a cloud-based infrastructure, you can allocate resources like memory or CPU cycles or bandwidth or I/O across the whole organization. That's a far more complicated picture.

Our Loraine Lawson advocates the importance of As she puts it, "In essence, it boils down to knowing what you've got, what you need and creating a good plan for bridging the two." She quotes Daniel Lawrence Spar, a technology strategist with Deloitte Consulting, saying:

If you want to approach things from the business side and architect the cloud, the first thing you need to architect is what the business needs from the cloud or from other related technologies; and in order to get there, you have to have architect the business operating model. ...
You have to define that in a very specific way and after you have that knowledge, then you can get into the specifics of what you need from the cloud to support your business.

Winners: System administrators. While the architects design how it all works together, these folks spread workloads to ensure high performance. The article warns, though, against restricting sys admins to old siloes. At VMware, for instance, they're assigned to manage resources for individual business units and work there, treated as members of the business units. These folks maintain the hardware, but virtualization has changed much in what they do.

Winners: Front-line IT managers. Like sys admins, their bosses should be freed from old silos and assigned to support specific business functions or units, according to Forrester analyst James Staten.

Changed roles: CIO and senior IT managers. Like lower-level managers,their business role is expanding to create a more flexible infrastructure. Staten says they will be called upon to identify standard interfaces, enforce service levels, make informed decisions about which service providers to choose. And managing contracts -- multiple contracts at once -- will be an increasingly important role, one a CIO.com article previously referred to as

Changed roles: Contract and service managers. The article says those accustomed to outsouring a large part of IT will have an easier time with this, but there's a lot to get right in choosing a service provider. It quotes Susan Cramm, founder of executive career-development and strategy consultancy Valudance, saying:

There are a lot of technical issues to integrate with an outside provider, because cloud sounds so fantastic, but as we found out with Amazon, if you don't do your due diligence and don't have the contracts laid out right, you're not going to get what you need and you'll spend the whole [term of the contract] wishing you did it differently.

Changed roles: Enterprise developers. The expert sources foresee less customization and DIY projects, As Herman Nell, Petco vice president and CIO, put it:

"We had been a relatively big development shop. If someone came to IT with a request we said first 'Can I develop it for you?,' secondarily we would buy it off the shelf. Now we first would want to buy it, then develop it if needed, and we would outsource the development."

Cramm expects demand for developers to remain strong, but not internally. She said:

"Someone still has to do that programming; it's just not you."

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