Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thoughts on how Cloud Computing will impact tech jobs

Regardless of your view about the future of Cloud Computing, there is generally consensus that we're in the early stages of a transformation in how IT is acquired, built and consumed. IT professionals are beginning to wonder what things like infrastructure convergence, IT-as-a-Service, hybrid cloud and other changes will mean to their future.
  • Will these changes help me? Do I have skills that align with the latest trends?
  • Will these changes allocate me to the bit bucket of IT jobs because my expertise is limited or antiquated?
  • Will these changes accelerate the need to eliminate my position or outsource my role? 
Instead of making suggestions on specific skills that IT professionals might want to focus on, I thought it might be better to discuss some of the macro-level concepts that should be taken into consideration.

  1. "Cloud happens..." - In today's world, technology starts in the consumer realm and migrates into corporations as frustrations grow or business needs change. Think about how you consume technology as a consumer and see if you can forecast your business life using something significantly different in a few years. The economics of IT silos, dedicated resources and a lack of linkage to Internet resources just won't make sense long-term. 
  2. Technology trends last about 10 years - 1970s was central computers and terminals; 1980s was LANs, 1990s was mainstream Internet usage and WANs, 2000s was Web 2.0 and communications via IP. The 2010s will be about Cloud Computing in various forms and usage patterns. Do you have skills that are prepared for the next 10 years?
  3. Technology isn't always just about technology - We haven't reached SkyNet yet, so people are still involved with technology decisions, and people are emotional. They let trust, job security, FUD and other elements effect their decision making. Maybe you'll be the person that helps with trust issues on the technology side, or maybe you'll look at ways to quantify and qualify upcoming changes. Either way, understand that change is difficult for people and you have an opportunity to be a leader for your business in moving through this technology evolution.
  4. Young people don't focus on old technology - I know you're hoping your mad FCoTR skills will carry you through this decade, but the next generation of technologists isn't spending cycles hanging onto the past. So you can either take your red stapler and hide in a corner hoping nobody invades your turf or learn something new. Your choice. Just make sure to get your suspenders dry-cleaned once in a while. 
  5. Learn a little bit about $$ (and maybe the regulatory laws) to compliment your 10101's - Creating ROI spreadsheets has always been a part of a technologists job, but how many companies followed up on them? If public cloud competitors start coming to your CIO with an OpEx-only model, will you still be able to justify your ROI models? Maybe or maybe not, but you'd better understand the $$ well enough to make the arguments you've made in the past. My friend @roidude's blog is a great place to start understanding what that conversation looks like today.
  6. The Cloud is Flat - To borrow a phrase from Thomas Friedman, competition for jobs will come from everywhere. Are you prepared to compete with people that aren't burdened with old thinking or older deployment models? The Data Center is the 21st century bits factory, creating value out of 1s and 0s. Remember what happened to all the factories in the US and Europe that didn't keep up with leaner production methods? Don't be surprised if you see Cloud Computing, Just in Time (JIT) or Lean Manufacturing mentioned in the same sentence over the next few years.

We're all in charge of our own destiny and career path. No matter if you take a 1yr or 10yr view of the future, I'd suggest that these trends will have an impact on where your technology career will be for the next 5-10 years. We're still in the early stages of Cloud Computing so there is time to get smarter, learn new skills and map out where you'd like to go. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you're preparing for the upcoming changes.

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