According to new hiring stats, cloud computing has crossed the border between technology that's interesting enough for companies to experiment with and those proven valuable enough to create actual jobs.
Postings for IT jobs involving cloud computing are up 159 percent so far this year compared with calendar 2010. Postings for jobs requiring skill in virtualization – cloud-computing's better-established parent technology – are up 26 percent, but from a much larger base of jobs.
"We're not seeing ads for 'cloud engineers' or 'virtual administrators' or things like that, so they're not completely invented just for cloud projects," according to Alice Hill, managing director of leading IT job board Dice.com. "They're mostly traditional IT titles that include components that require understanding of cloud computing, virtual storage, virtualization of servers, private and public clouds."
Cloud-related jobs made up only 2.3 percent of the total advertised on Dice as of May 2. Virtualization-related jobs – including those specifically calling for skill with VMware or Hyper-V – added another 6.3 percent.
That's not enough to take over the IT world, but it is a good indication cloud has advanced to the point that companies are taking it seriously enough to actually shell out extra money for those skilled in it.
And there is extra money.
"All IT salaries have been pretty flat for the last couple of years, but we're starting to see an increase in jobs, which is pushing up salaries; since there are not that many people with [cloud] skills available, that's starting to lead to more money to fill these positions," Hill said.
Jobs requiring solid, hands-on implementation and, especially, architectural skills "are unbelievably hard to fill," according to Mark Egan, CIO at VMware, which grows much of the cloud technology in the industry.
"A lot of companies are choosing to train people internally," he said.
A lot are also choosing to try to steal them from competitors.
"The best match for any job you're trying to fill is someone already doing almost the identical job you need to fill, usually at a competitor. It takes away an asset from a competitor by removing a key employee and gets you the skills you need," she said.
"You see that a lot. In the surveys we do of employers posting jobs we see a lot who are really worried about someone else poaching their best people," Hill said. "A lot of them are also considering poaching someone else's people."
It's not really a clear choice, since private or public cloud projects rely on virtual servers. Given a choice of on one or the other, which should you pick to get training or project experience in the most valuable?
"Cloud skills of any kind are clearly the hottest right now," Hill said. "Especially in private cloud, virtualization is part of the skill set, and interest in virtualization came out of slashed budgets and the economic concerns of the last couple of years.
"Right now anyone with skills involving environments that increase data security and cost savings is in a really good place right now," Hill said.