Private cloud and its role in future IT employment

I had the pleasure of speaking with Greg Shields, a senior partner and Principal Technologist at Concentrated Technology and a training content provider for CBT Nuggets. We discussed the effect that private cloud related technologies and initiatives will have on the future of IT career and employment options. Our conversation centered around two types of IT jobs; IT Technical Specialist working in a data center and software developers.

From the viewpoint of the Technical Specialists, Greg believes that the building blocks of how a company’s technical infrastructure is constructed and managed are dramatically changing. In the old days (circa just a few years ago), raw computer power was provided to newly developed software applications by buying new servers, configuring them to data center specifications, and adding them to the communication backbone. This process required Technical Specialists to have skills related to configuring specific pieces of the hardware based on data center convention and application requirements.

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In tomorrow’s private-cloud world (or today’s world depending on where you work), the role of the Technical Specialist will change from primarily building and monitoring servers, to allocating virtual computer resources using tools such as Microsoft System Center. This change in role brings with it a change in skill set. At a high level, in addition to the need of learning a new array of technologies, it also requires a change in mindset from being server-centric to being enterprise-centric.

From a software developer’s perspective, the private cloud winds are slowly changing internal IT department software standards, needed programmer skillsets, and architectural mindset. Fear not, however, these changing tides are bringing with them virtually unlimited computer power for your newly created applications. In the old days, within certain bounds, the developers of new software applications had a high level of control over the application’s structure, programming standards, and configuration. Additionally, with the exception of interfaces to previously existing applications, they didn’t have to worry about any other application but their own.

In today’s new, or soon to be, private cloud world, all new applications will have to follow very specific configuration requirements so that they can be properly loaded, executed, allocated resources, and monitored. As a result, programmers working in these environments must be cognizant of not only their own application, but also how their application will operate within this virtual environment. This wider technical view will require software developers to understand new technical interfaces, use programming architectures that facilitate the dynamic allocation of resources, and their company’s specific private cloud implementation rules.

The next topic we discussed was the question of whether people will lose their jobs as companies implement private cloud technologies. Our general consensus on the topic was a resounding maybe yes, maybe no. More specifically, yes your job would be in peril if you are not willing or not able to learn the new technologies being implemented within your IT shop. For example, if you are a Technical Specialist in the data center and only want your job to be prepping and monitoring standalone servers, then yes, as the demands for these specific tasks diminish, so will your future job prospects. On the software side, if you are unwilling or unable to learn the new technical skills needed to properly program in this environment, then your future job opportunities will be limited to the maintenance of legacy applications.

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