February 01, 2011, 5:20 PM — My recent post, The Internet of Things and the Cloud CIO of the Future garnered a lot of attention and comments. One tweet by @abbielundberg said "agree w priorities but there's more to CIO role." Abbie, by the way, is former Editor-in-Chief of CIO Magazine, so she definitely knows whereof she speaks.
A good friend who spent years selling to CIOs once commented about CIO priorities "They can only focus on three big things, and two of them are budgets and people, so don't expect that it's easy making your widget a top priority within the organization."
There's a lot of wisdom in Abbie's and my friend's perspectives, and it's instructive to think about what the people side of cloud computing is going to look like--or, to put it another way, how will cloud computing change the various roles within an IT organization and how will it change their importance, relative to one another?
[ See also: Programming for Cloud Computing: What's Different ]
We believe it's impossible to understand these questions without understanding the environment in which IT personnel will be working in the cloud computing future. Our prediction is scale: big data, more (virtual) servers, more applications, much larger applications, and many more highly elastic applications. In the past, growth in computing capacity was mirrored by a linear growth in headcount. It's clear that this phenomenon, if it ever made sense, is unsustainable at the scale IT will have to operate in the future. Companies can't--and won't--support the scale growth with headcount as in the past.
The solution is quite clear: the substitution of software automation for what was manual interaction. This is the only possible way that IT will be able to cope with the one, two, or three order of magnitude growth of scale the future will hold. And the personnel of the IT organization will need to implement and support that automation. Essentially, what was heretofore implemented manually must be standardized, captured in rules, and executed without human interaction. So what will it mean for IT people when automation is infused within the systems and processes? Here are five of the likely implications:
Enterprise architects become more important