Cloud Computing's Impact on Specific IT Jobs
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The lack of skilled IT workers is hurting the deployment of emerging technology, according to a new survey from Gartner. In areas from cloud to cybersecurity, this crisis is expected to last for years to come.

Application Developers The consensus among cloud computing professionals is that the cloud won't fundamentally change the job of the application developer. In fact, according to HyperStratus, cloud computing will herald a "golden age" for programmers. Because cloud computing makes it easier to provision IT capabilities, the consulting company expects organizations to consume more IT, which will drive demand for application developers.

Developers will need to learn new skills, of course. Interrante says application developers will have to learn a new set of APIs to develop apps for the cloud, but he adds, learning new APIs is a common task for developers. Bernard Golden, CEO of HyperStratus says programmers will have to learn new frameworks, such as Cloud Foundry or PHP Fog, to build applications that are elastic and scalable. They'll have to learn about non-relational databases like NoSQL, too.

Systems Administrators Cloud computing will change the role of the systems administrator somewhat significantly because it automates the portion of the job devoted to configuring systems. It will make the system administrator's job less about knowing how to run a server, for example, and more about knowing how to run an automated environment that runs the server, says Golden.

"You still need to know how to install and configure Apache," he says. "But more important will be knowing how to automate the configuration and operate the environment. You'll be adjusting Chef scripts instead of doing the hands-on configuration of Apache."

Eucalyptus' Knosp says the systems administrator will become a cloud administrator. "The cloud administrator will combine a variety of different skill sets around systems administration, virtualization, storage and network administration," he says. "The role will be multifaceted. They'll have some level of responsibility for design of the cloud environment. They'll have definite responsibility for administration and ongoing management."

Rich Wolski, CTO and co-founder of Eucalyptus Software, said he believes IT professionals currently working in infrastructure management roles (systems administrators, storage administrators, network administrators) will be able to make the transition to cloud administrator.

"The trend in data center management and construction has been towards automation," he says. "The cloud is sort of the epitome of that automation. Administrators have been going down this path step by step for a decade or more."

Architects Organizations migrating their applications and infrastructure to the cloud will need cloud architects to help set and drive that strategy, says Knosp. Cloud architects will bring together their knowledge of cloud computing, enterprise architecture, storage, networking and virtualization to develop and execute the cloud strategy.

Ernst & Young's Nichols says cloud architects will also be responsible for figuring out how to integrate disparate cloud applications while maintaining performance and service levels. He adds that the role of the cloud architect will be critical inside organizations once approximately 30 percent of an organization's IT infrastructure is in the cloud.

Capacity Planners Capacity planners' role becomes much more important —and more difficult —in a cloud environment. They're trying to predict an organization's need for IT resources, such as bandwidth or server capacity, so that users have the computing power they need when they need it. Accurately forecasting this demand for IT resources is critical because it impacts budgets, but it becomes a much harder task in the cloud, says Golden, because workloads are much more volatile and much less visible. "Your forecasting window is a lot shorter, and the variability of the load is a lot higher," he says.

Vendor Managers Cloud computing changes the vendor managers' role in two significant ways:

First, the vendors with which they'll be working will change.
"A lot of IT organizations, especially at very large companies, have been used to using the largest of the large consultants, outsourcing suppliers, software vendors and hardware vendors. 80 percent of their spend is with the very large providers," says Nichols. "When you move to the cloud, you'll have a lot of small companies providing services in ways that haven't been done before."

Second, contracts and payment schemes will be different, notes Golden. Vendor managers will need to know what happens if their company's user base doubles, how that will impact pricing, he says. They'll also need to sort through compliance issues, such as data privacy and security.

The Song Remains the Same As much as cloud computing transforms traditional IT operations and roles, plenty of activities remain the same, which helps to ease the transition for IT professionals. Infrastructure, applications and vendors still need to be managed and monitored.

Whether you're in a role that cloud computing changes a little or a lot, reskill yourself for the cloud: Don't fear it. Embrace it. Learn as much as you can, and that way you can secure your career going forward.


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