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What the cloud really means for your IT job

Brandon Butler | March 14, 2012
Depending on which survey or story you read, the cloud can be either a good thing for IT workers and their job security, or it can be terrifying.

"Most people think that with such a deployment we would be drawing down our services to make them more cost-effective," he says. "Our internal IT is growing."

The greatest need for services in UL's new system is for customer-facing employees that can help UL clients integrate into the company's platform. As a firm that oversees product development and manufacturing, Anschuetz says customers want UL workers to be involved in the product lifecycle as early as possible. A cloud-based system, he says, allows UL to work more closely with customers on product development. Instead of a face-to-face meeting, or emailing documents back and forth, now documents are hosted in a cloud environment that both UL and the customer have access to, allowing for greater collaboration, he says. "UL has realized the elasticity that the cloud provides us is of great value in the marketplace," he says. "It allows us to develop new applications and regenerate relationships with customers." Because of the value it creates for the business, UL is adding workers that help manage the cloud integration efforts.

This is the reasoning IDC and Microsoft used in its study claiming the cloud will help create 14 million jobs in the next five years.

"By offloading services to the cloud, you increase the amount of budget you have for new projects and initiatives, which are the things that truly lead to new business revenues," says John Gantz, an IDC research who studies technology economics.

Three-quarters of IT spending today, he says, is on legacy systems and upgrades, with the remainder on new products. If an enterprise cuts system management costs, that creates additional resources for new projects and initiatives, which drive revenues and can potentially create jobs. Although, Gantz stresses, those may not be in the IT department.

In the short term, cloud deployments can create an increased need for IT staff to manage the transition and monitor the new cloud system and vendors. In the long term, however, the cloud generally creates efficiencies and reduces IT staffing jobs in an enterprise, he says. On a macroeconomic level, Gantz doesn't see the cloud having a macroeconomic impact. Some of the jobs lost in individual companies could be offset by increases in staffing needs by cloud vendors, he says.

David Moschella, global research director for the Leading Edge Forum at CSC, agrees that IT investments usually lead to a drop in staffing needs for a company.

"Businesses can be run with less people because of technology advancement," he says.

Traditionally there has been an argument that when jobs are eliminated in one area, they can be increased in another. Moschella believes that will be the case, but he says it's too early to tell exactly which areas will be the beneficiaries of the job boom the cloud can provide.


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