"Most everything an IT professional would need these days is freely available or relatively inexpensive," says Rackspace's Fafel. "You don't need a $5,000 server to help you learn. Launch your Web browser, launch a few servers in the Rackspace cloud, dig into blogs, and absorb as much information as you can."
As you build your knowledge of cloud computing, Eucalyptus's Knosp suggests investigating and obtaining certifications. He said he believes that when employers advertise positions for cloud administrators and architects, they will seek candidates with vendor-specific certifications. IT professionals who hold those credentials will be in a better competitive position in the job market.
Cloud Computing's Impact on Specific IT Jobs
Cloud computing will change some traditional IT jobs more than others. Mark Interrante, Rackspace's vice president of product, advises IT professionals to ask themselves, "Am I in a job where there's a massive amount of change or less change?" To help you answer that question, read the following descriptions of how cloud computing will impact five categories of IT jobs: application developers, systems administrators, architects, capacity planners and vendor managers.
The consensus among cloud computing professionals is that the cloud won't fundamentally change the job of the application developer. In fact, according to HyperStratus, cloud computing will herald a "golden age" for programmers. Because cloud computing makes it easier to provision IT capabilities, the consulting company expects organizations to consume more IT, which will drive demand for application developers.
Developers will need to learn new skills, of course. Interrante says application developers will have to learn a new set of APIs to develop apps for the cloud, but he adds, learning new APIs is a common task for developers. Golden says programmers will have to learn new frameworks, such as Cloud Foundry or PHP Fog, to build applications that are elastic and scalable. They'll have to learn about non-relational databases like NoSQL, too.
Cloud computing will change the role of the systems administrator somewhat significantly because it automates the portion of the job devoted to configuring systems. It will make the system administrator's job less about knowing how to run a server, for example, and more about knowing how to run an automated environment that runs the server, says Golden.
"You still need to know how to install and configure Apache," he says. "But more important will be knowing how to automate the configuration and operate the environment. You'll be adjusting Chef scripts instead of doing the hands-on configuration of Apache."