At a recent IT End User Group focused on cloud computing, I detected turbulence. Roughly three quarters of the networking professionals and systems administrators I spoke with are afraid of losing their jobs once cloud computing evolves within their organizations.Much has been said about IT in general "going away" as enterprises move towards deploying cloud computing models. The misconception is that, as an IT environment becomes much more automated and self-functioning, IT jobs will essentially be eliminated. Furthermore, it implies that there will no longer be anything to manage in the network.
As with any technological evolution, there will inevitably be disruption and change. Such is the case with moving towards an operational model such as cloud computing. Although more than 50% of enterprises today are looking to evolve their IT environment to cloud computing, the fact is that the transition to this will take some time, from an operational, technological, and organizational perspective.
There is still much need for an organization that can support this type of evolution. So while IT will not go away, the roles within it will certainly evolve.
Systems administrators and networking professionals will need to acquire a new set of skills for managing the new environment that cloud computing will provide. In these roles, they will be responsible for helping their organizations transition to a new IT environment, as well as for ensuring that there is a smooth migration path from an on-premise corporate network to a hybrid environment, which would eventually encompass on-premise, a virtual private cloud and potentially some component of a public cloud.
Then ultimately, there is the need for (non-IT) end users to understand what this new environment can provide for them, how they can leverage these resources, and what is the value achieved from this.
The skill set needed to manage this type of environmental shift will differ from what we have seen traditionally. There will be new sets of tools which IT professionals will need to learn how to use, and new relationships to develop within the organization.
IT professionals looking to evolve their roles will need to learn how to work more closely with other business units, and to help others understand the new requirements, limits, and benefits of the new model. These "people" skills -- sometimes called "soft" skills, have often been lacking in IT organizations, but will become critical as cloud computing inevitably brings together several different business units.
The fact is that, as the cloud computing model evolves within organizations, IT as we know it today, will undergo a transformation. As enterprises continue to work on aligning business and IT more closely, we will see IT evolve.
The end goal for enterprises should no longer be to have IT manage and maintain the network, but for IT to evolve into a more strategic business unit to the organization. Implementing a cloud computing model into the organization will accelerate this strategic course.
Vanessa Alvarez is an industry analyst for Information, Communications & Technologies at Frost & Sullivan.