David Linthicum wrote an interesting article in InfoWorld recently about the ongoing debate among IT pros as to whether cloud computing would cut or create jobs. When you think about it, the cloud is supposed to build efficiency, which should lead to new ways of doing things. That could lead to the need for fewer bodies in IT, but is it a given? Not necessarily and it really depends on your company’s cloud strategy.

Private Cloud Requires Care and Feeding

In fact, it doesn’t need to mean that all, especially if your company goes the private cloud route. In this case, there will still be servers to maintain and software to write. There will still be end users to placate and educate. There will still be storage to maintain and updates and enhancements. In short, life will go on.

Public Cloud Is Another Story

SMBs are clearly using public cloud tools like Google, Amazon and Salesforce.com to handle traditional IT chores. But the fact is these businesses were never going to be huge employment machines and they might have used outside services or consultants anyway. The larger companies using a service like Amazon or Rackspace for virtual storage or network overflow, or even a service like Salesforce.com for CRM could have some impact on jobs, but I’m not convinced it will be a huge one.

Times They Are A Changin’

As Linthicum points out, change is inevitable in this business, and the debate might be less about the value of cloud computing and more about fear of change. My take is that very few if any companies will ever transform their entire IT department to the cloud. Just as mainframes still exist along side client-server and Software as a Service (SaaS), there will always be legacy hardware and software to deal with.

Nobody’s going to change over night, and for most companies change comes very slowly. Even when the change-over happens, existing technology won’t suddenly disappear. In the end, like much of the debate we hear around cloud computing, there’s not much to this. Sure, some jobs will probably go–not too many Cobol programmers anymore, I imagine–but as they do, they are replaced by new ones.

If you’re threatened by change, you might want to consider a new line of work because technology is always going to change, whether it’s the cloud or something else.

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  • FlyingGuy says:

    But the answer is not as black and white as one might think, it is far more subtle.

    As some once said, “Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it.”

    The thing is this, back in the old days you have a dumb terminal that ran the applications that were on the main frame. Want a new application, you were talking long lead times and lots of money. Want a new report? You were talking medium lead time and not as much money but it still took a while as cost a few bucks.

    Then came the PC with applications like Lotus-123, dBase, Sidekick and the like and small printers that someone could massage data with do a quick ( relatively ) print and off to a meeting.

    Then the PC morf’d again into you basic personal main frame and you could run all kinds of things and there is really no limit other then the ability of the user to grasp the purpose of the software and use it to its potential.

    So now we are heading back to the beginning. The apps are on the big server in the sky again and so is the data. Want a new application…

    I wonder how long it will take before the cycle repeats itself.

    The problem I see is this. Those BIG companies like Google and Amazon are selling this stuff for less then it costs. They are looking to make profit from it someplace and personally I think it is from data mining. It can be done in ways that do not expose individuals or even whole companies but what they can gleam from the trillions of stored e-mails or petabytes of stored database information is worth billions to marketers and that cannot be ignored.

    It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. I will say this, those very very powerful desktop machines that are for all intents and purposes being reduced to dumb terminals will still be running windows and will still go sideways. But the support of those machines is heading to this, “If a low level tech cannot fix the problem in 15 minutes or less his instructions will be to plug the USB key in and simply re-image”. It which wont take very long since all it needs is a GUI and a browser or maybe less.

Aug 19, 2010
10:38 am
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