Cloud computing is a technology with a huge potential we still don’t use to the fullest. With all the benefits cloud computing offers to IT departments of all sizes, it is commonly considered a technology that can help companies cope successfully with infrastructure challenges and the lack of qualified staff.
Cloud computing will certainly (and already has) affect(ed) IT departments and IT staff. The potential of cloud computing can’t be denied but we shouldn’t regard it as a cure-all technology. In other words, it is not realistic to expect (or probably fear) that cloud computing will solve at once all infrastructure and staffing issues in IT departments.
Dependency on the Provider
Yet, cloud computing does affect the everyday life of the average IT department. For instance, fears of vendor lock-in are common among IT executives because it is obvious that a cloud requires a lot of investment and for small cloud service providers the amount of money required to enter this market is sort of prohibitive. This in turn could lead to a situation, where only large companies operate clouds, which will not only give users of cloud services no choice, but will make them dependent on the large cloud computing vendors.
In a sense, this looks like a vicious circle – when you use cloud computing services, your hands aren’t tied because you can’t find skilled personnel but you become more dependent on vendors and on cloud computing providers. It is difficult to say which of the two options is worse.
While it is too early to panic that cloud computing has turned you into a hostage of vendors’ dictate, one of the more eminent fears related to cloud computing is that the cloud will eat jobs.
Will Cloud Computing Eat IT Jobs?
A couple of years ago lack of qualified IT staff was a hot issue. But now, when the economy has been going down and down for year after year, with no chances of improvement in the near future, fears that cloud computing will cause further loss of IT jobs are not groundless.
When an IT department uses the services of a cloud computing provider, this automatically means the volume of in-house workload drops. This in turn leads to fewer people needed to service this volume.
In better economic times, this wouldn’t be a problem because when fewer people are needed, those who are not in demand any more, will simply look for a new job and there is no drama. But now, when finding any new job, not to mention a better one, is kind of hard, any hints of possible downsizing and headcount reductions cause fears.
Yes, if a company IT department increases the use of cloud computing, this will lead to decreased demand for personnel and will allow to shrink the IT department. However, as experience shows, there are always people who are needed onsite in order to be a point of contact when problems with third parties (in this case the providers of cloud computing services) occur, so it is not probable that the whole IT department will be laid off.
Cloud Computing Is Still to Peak
It is hard to predict how cloud computing will develop in the near future and beyond but it looks like that even if there are headcount reductions, the cloud will hardly be the main reason for that. Cloud computing is still to peak and there are many companies that still don’t rely heavy on it.
Additionally, cloud computing as a technology has many limitations, which can’t be solved overnight. In the last few years when cloud computing has been gaining ground, it proved that any expectations/fears of a potential IT job loss because of cloud computing are ungrounded.
For many types of applications cloud computing is inapplicable because of a myriad of reasons, starting from security issues, reliability concerns, and in some cases even price. Therefore, cloud computing can’t be considered as a huge threat to IT department employees. Well, when you lose your job, it isn’t much of a comfort this happened because of the crash of the stock exchange and not because of cloud computing but for now cloud computing doesn’t look that much of a danger.
Cloud Computing Could Help to Save IT Jobs in Companies
What is more, for many companies cloud computing could be the lifebelt. If you have already invested (at least partially) in new infrastructure and you have a lot of free capacity, now you can offer your services to companies which haven’t done the same and which now, despite the drop in volume of their work, are looking for affordable offers.
The option to become a cloud computing provider is more viable for a data center, rather than an ordinary company but still it exists. If the company decides to expand its activities in the direction of offering cloud computing services to external organizations, this will require hiring new people, training them, integrating them within the existing teams, etc. In this case it is quite likely to witness an increase of the headcount, rather than layoffs.
There isn’t a single answer to the question how cloud computing will affect IT departments and personnel. For some IT departments cloud computing might be bad news, while for others it might be the way out of a tough situation.
In any case, cloud computing has slowly but surely won its place in IT and this happened sooner than we expected. Anyway, cloud computing is not that bad and once its issues are sorted out, or at least reduced to an acceptable level, cloud computing will be used in many more enterprises, so the sooner one is prepared for that, the better.