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The Almighty Buck IT

Cloud-Sourcing's Long-Term Impact On IT Careers 157

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-your-job-in-the-clouds dept.
snydeq writes "InfoWorld provides a reality check on the impact cloud computing will have on IT jobs, the overall effects of which will likely resemble those of outsourcing, automation, and utility computing — in other words, a movement away from the nuts and bolts of technology toward the business end of the organization. This shift from 'blue-collar IT to white-collar IT' will be accompanied by greater demand for IT pros experienced with virtualization and Web scale-out deployments, even among midlevel organizations, and greater emphasis on SaaS integration among in-house development teams, analysts say. And though the large-scale impact of 'cloud-sourcing' is likely a decade away, those not versed in vendor contract management, cloud integration, analytics, and RIA and mobile development may find themselves pushed toward the less technical jobs to come, those that will require days full of conference calls and putting out fires caused by doing business in the cloud."
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Cloud-Sourcing's Long-Term Impact On IT Careers

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  • and for the rest of us; business as normal. Got it.

    • by sys.stdout.write (1551563) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @10:41AM (#28795209)
      When they came for the IT professionals, I remained silent.

      When they came for the call support professionals, I remained silent.

      When they came for the programmers there was no one left to speak out for me.
      • by voss (52565) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @11:15AM (#28795559)

        The humans were lined up

        "What do you do?"
        "Im a cloud..." *zap* he falls dead from a robot laser
        "What do you do?"
        "Im a web..." *zap* he falls dead from a robot laser
        "What do you do?"
        "Im the chief inform...." *zap* he falls dead
        "What do you do?"
        "Im the tech who fixes your laser, I see you're busy downsizing the IT department... I'm taking an early lunch, k? Save me the copy girl, she's kind of hot"

      • by Dalroth (85450) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @11:26AM (#28795759) Homepage Journal

        Yes, because we all know everybody has a cow in their back yard and a generator in their basement.

        Things change. Computing will become more utility like. Adapt or die.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by JerkBoB (7130)

          Yes, because we all know everybody has a cow in their back yard and a generator in their basement.

          I have a generator in my basement (well, my garage, anyhow). And my next-door neighbor is kind of a cow...

        • by caluml (551744)

          Adapt or die.

          Explain how to adapt then.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Late Adopter (1492849)
            Why on Earth should he? Barring terribly inequitable starting conditions, If he's better able to adapt than you, doesn't he deserve to prosper more?
            • by Shakrai (717556)

              Barring terribly inequitable starting conditions, If he's better able to adapt than you, doesn't he deserve to prosper more?

              Dude, haven't you been paying attention to our fearless leftist leaders? We should take from the one who is better able to adapt and give to the one who is not.

            • by caluml (551744)
              If it won't affect him, (and it's a big pie), why wouldn't he? People do occasionally help each other for altruistic reasons.
        • by gd2shoe (747932) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @03:13PM (#28798723) Journal

          Things change.

          Undeniably.

          Computing will become more utility like. Adapt or die.

          Oh, I hope not. That would be terrible. That would be vendor lock-in of the very worst kind. Assuming all vendors agreed on a standard (not foreseeable), none of them would follow it precisely (think HTML/Javascript/CSS). Large vendors would start creating artificial barriers-to-entry. Regulation would crop up to "protect the consumer" -- failing entirely to protect anyone, the bureaucracy would also serve as barrier-to-entry. The big players would have no intensive to do a great job, only a mediocre one.

          Things can only get uglier from there. Imagine if certain DNS registrars [slashdot.org] were offering cloud services. You'd find migrating your data and programs to be terribly difficult. Despite being highly illegal, you could never tell if your programs or data had been leaked for profit. Costs may seem reasonable for a while. Once the above barriers-to-entry start coming up, prices will rise (because they can). We'd never be able to dethrone Intuit (Quickbooks) once people's data live solely on their servers (The data you need to keep for 5+ years in case of an IRS audit). I could go on.

          Privacy and reliability are both issues for home and business users. If either the service OR the ISP goes down, you're stuck.

          Offsite computing resources make sense for small business web service and backup. They only make a little sense for mid size businesses. They make no sense for large businesses.
          (And I recommend in-house backup even if it does make sense otherwise.)

          Don't tell me that it's the way of the future. If cloud computing strikes, you'll be telling me that life stinks, deal with it. You might not see that yet. Hopefully, you won't need to.

          • by skarphace (812333)

            Oh, I hope not. That would be terrible. That would be vendor lock-in of the very worst kind. Assuming all vendors agreed on a standard (not foreseeable), none of them would follow it precisely (think HTML/Javascript/CSS). Large vendors would start creating artificial barriers-to-entry. Regulation would crop up to "protect the consumer" -- failing entirely to protect anyone, the bureaucracy would also serve as barrier-to-entry. The big players would have no intensive to do a great job, only a mediocre one.

      • by homer_s (799572)
        Don't forget all the clerks and typists who lost their jobs due to the computer; hope you "spoke out" for them.
        • Don't forget all the clerks and typists who lost their jobs due to the computer; hope you "spoke out" for them.

          Ugh, what a cheap response. I suppose we should all suffer the same fate as clerks and typists, lest we fall the victim to "well, you aren't perfect or blameless". I'll keep my job and attempt to learn from history, thanks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by siloko (1133863)
      O the joys of blindness!!! We're all irreplaceable until that time when someone devises a machine/process/alternative whcih does our job better than us or makes our job obsolete - so play hard and fast while you can sunshine because your confidence is misplaced!
      • by Phishcast (673016)

        We're all irreplaceable until that time when someone devises a machine/process/alternative

        Or shell script...

    • Don't overestimate your ability in avoiding being replaced. Everyone is replaceable or at least expendable.

      I'm thinking of Terrel Owens (TO), who is (was??) extremely talented and gifted receiver in the NFL, became such a liability that not even his talent could keep him on a team. He now has a New Nickname ... "Team Obliterator".

      Not to mention this economy which sucks raw eggs, even if a company likes you, you may not have a job in six months.

      • I have no illusions to my expendability. Rather, I know my worth and know that there will always be a job for someone of my experience, skill and adaptability.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by recharged95 (782975)
      Basically a high paying job doing fun, researchy stuff is an oxymoron.
      Want to work with or develop the latest tech, coolest languages, ingenious scalable configurations?
      ... Go back as a grad student (with 0 responsibility IMO), and forget about making $100K a year.
      Otherwise, as the OP mentioned, it's business as usual, suck it up.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cayenne8 (626475)
        I don't care what I do...as long as I make the $$$$!!

        After all, that's the only reason I work. I win the powerball tomorrow....never work again.

      • by allenw (33234)

        Those jobs do exist. You just have to know where to find them. :)

  • SOX HIPPA etc (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mc1138 (718275) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @10:26AM (#28795063) Homepage
    While "Cloud" computing is here to stay, it is a while off, and opens interesting problems with different legal requirements caused by regulations. How does SOX integrate with Cloud computing. As it stands currently, it really doesn't because there is a lack, or at least perceived lack of accountability. While I can agree that we will see more widespread rollouts in the next ten years, for those working at publicly traded companies or in Health Care, you can expect to see a lot of systems still in house, albeit virtualized and distributed, rather than off site. All this article really does, is reiterate the importance for any IT professional to stay current or move into management.
    • Re:SOX HIPPA etc (Score:5, Insightful)

      by plague3106 (71849) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @10:57AM (#28795359)

      While "Cloud" computing is here to stay, it is a while off

      Cloud computing isn't here to stay. It's the latest buzzword of an industry trying to generate revenue. Whatever happened to SaaS? Oh, still not really here is it? Or "Web Services?" In the end, its just another way to move data around... nothing really revolunatary. But hey, lots of pointed haired people said "OMG our product needs to have / use Web services, it will change everything!" Ya, did it?

      • by poetmatt (793785)

        Bingo, I'm tired of this shit, and I'm not even old. You can thank MS for whispering "cloud computing" in the backroom to people at every conference for the past year. My S.O. and others in IT/enterprise have been whining that cloud computing has been a term selling to the upper management above IT who have no idea what it means. I have no idea how they managed to infiltrate that crowd.

        I give it about another year or two before people go "Wait, didn't we have virtualization before?". Or "wait, why does MS w

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by rabbit994 (686936)

          MS really didn't come up with Cloud Computing. They have jumped on the bandwagon with their Azure platform but they are not the ones who really pushed it. Google and Amazon are more to blame for this.

          Microsoft is more pushing their Hyper-V Virtualization platform. I think they just do cloud computing enough to be like, yes we have a cloud. To me, future of cloud computing is more companies having clusters of servers where you can create additional instances and easily add more hardware. This is more what Mi

        • Re:SOX HIPPA etc (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Vancorps (746090) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @12:05PM (#28796281)

          I went to an HP tech conference a month ago and everything was cloud this and cloud that and it was rather irritating for those of us that understand it's just a clustered OS in a virtual environment. With Cisco and HP creating switches that integrate with XenServer, HyperV, and of course VMWare it's just further abstraction of more and more components of the network. Of course you still need all the same hardware you used before as well as all the same software. You just need more software and more hardware to create what people expect from a "cloud."

          What got worse, the IT Director, my immediate boss is all about clouds to the owner and I had to speak up saying that we already have a XenServer based cloud, why would we need to waste even more money on outsourcing something that has had lots of issues with reliability, security, and of course requires all new programming. The owner has a problem with outsourcing thankfully as he has been burned by it on more than one occasion. Of course the real issue with outsourcing is that you still need people around that are directly employed to manage the projects you're outsourcing. This means people like me will be around for quite some time to come.

        • [...] a term selling to the upper management above IT who have no idea what it means.

          Nobody knows what it means. It is not as if there is a clear undisputed definition of the term "Cloud Computing". And lots of people pretend to be absolutely clear about what it exactly means.

          Same goes for SOA, ESB, MDA, Architect, Architecture, Analyst,...

        • Re:SOX HIPPA etc (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Znork (31774) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @12:24PM (#28796599)

          selling to the upper management above IT

          Yes, see, they've been following the trend 'away from technology to the business end'.

          It rather illustrates the whole problem with that idea; there are a lot of IT people who understand enough of the business end to work out solutions to business problems, but few business people who understand enough technology to even know what their options are. Instead they find themselves listening to salesreps and getting sold on very expensive rectal probes, despite the lack any urgent business need for mass colonic inspection.

          "Wait, didn't we have virtualization before?"

          Sort of like when CIOs went 'now we've implemented virtualization!' in 2007, when in fact they'd been running it since 2001 or earlier.

          I have little doubt that most IT people who've been in the business for at least a decade and managed to stay relevant have more than enough ability to adapt to most changes; the Forrester analysts comment: "Somebody who is smart at CRM is not easily retrained on datacenter automation," would reflect more on himself than on most IT professionals; if your employees can't be retrained from CRM to datacenter automation I'd seriously question their ability with CRM solutions in the first place. (Hmm, although, having seen a few CRM solutions, that would explain some things).

          • there are a lot of IT people who understand enough of the business end to work out solutions to business problems, but few business people who understand enough technology to even know what their options are.

            That may be because, below the executive level, particularly in middle management, anyone on the business side that has more than a casual understanding of technology can usually make more money (and feel less like they are banging their head against a wall anytime they try to use that understanding) mo

            • by poetmatt (793785)

              I'm not at the level of an oracle DBA as far as technical knowledge but there is an extreme prejudice to people who don't have a masters in IT against being in the business intelligence side of things. Somehow the technical knowledge side recognizes knowledge/skill/adaptability but the same principles do not apply to the business analysts for the same companies.

        • by sjames (1099)

          These silly fads blow across the industry all the time, then fade to obscurity. Don't worry, they'll get renamed and resurrected again and again.

          Anyone remember when management was all excited about CORBA? Just sprinkle the magic CORBA dust and suddenly apps that have never heard of each other will automagically become a seamless inter-operable unit. That one already came back again when people thought XML would do much the same thing (+/- a bit of SOAP).

          Like most such things, many apps will try to go there

      • by mc1138 (718275)
        There's a reason I put it in quotes because I hate the term. What is likely here to stay is an increase in distributed computing, which is a much better phrase IMHO. My big point was more that IT professionals need to stay current to stay employed.
      • by sycodon (149926) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @11:28AM (#28795771)

        Look for these want ads from the clueless recruiters:

        Wanted: Cloud Computing Expert.
        Must have 5 years in depth experience in Cloud Computing internals.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Abcd1234 (188840)

        Whatever happened to SaaS? Oh, still not really here is it?

        a) What do you think "cloud computing" is, exactly? That's right... SaaS.

        b) What do you think gmail and the rest of the Google app suite is?

        No, SaaS, as a concept, is alive and well. Will it grow and turn into an actual money-making endeavour? That I don't know.

        Or "Web Services?" In the end, its just another way to move data around... nothing really revolunatary.

        Funny, given there's web services *everywhere*. Amazon exposes their API through a

        • What do you think "cloud computing" is, exactly? That's right... SaaS.

          Cloud computing isn't exactly SaaS, at least as the term is generally used; its more like hardware as a on-demand service. Now, one of the applications of cloud computing is to enable SaaS, but its not the only application.

        • by mgblst (80109)

          Agree 100%. Somebody who doesn't use Saas or web services must work in a very tiny, cut off field of IT. I use it every day, and have for many years. And not just in grid computing, but in almost everything, including mobile programming.

      • by lymond01 (314120)

        nothing really revolunatary

        That should be a real word. It could mean, adj, the case of being avant-garde to the point people thing you're crazy.

        We had someone yesterday use the word "massivate" -- to make more massive.

        And cloud computing is here to stay, it'll just become more part of every day stuff. It'll eventually need to be regulated for privacy and that may require federal subsidies the same way farmers do if Google can't keep scanning your data for advertising purposes. It'll be interesting.

  • Infoworld Idiocy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GPLDAN (732269) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @10:30AM (#28795107)
    I would like to point out that this article was written by Eric Knorr. Editor in Chief at Infosuck... I mean Infoworld. I am a 40 year old IT Director. I have been at this for 20 years. As far as I can remember, every place I've been, Infoworld usually is sitting in the lobby or somewhere in the IT magazine rack. It's one of the rags that CIOs like to have up front to show they are "in touch".

    I remember when Bob Metcalfe was EIC, and when they sued Mark Stephens over the use of the pen name Robert X. Cringley.

    I can't remember anything, any major direction, they were well informed or ahead of the curve on. Not one. I remember the Lotus Notes vs. Microsoft Exchange wars, I can't ever remember thinking 'Wow, Infoworld is really on top of this trend.' Can you?

    As such, I wouldn't even read that claptrap about SaaS. It's fodder for CIO types to talk to CEO types about. Truth is, SaaS is evolutionary, not revolutionary. That's been true for everything in the past 20 years of computing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Em Emalb (452530)
      Oh come on now, this was a great article.







      for me to poop on!
    • by dkf (304284)

      Truth is, SaaS is evolutionary, not revolutionary. That's been true for everything in the past 20 years of computing.

      Yes and no. Evolutionary doesn't mean that you never get sudden shocking change. You can get get long slow changes that suddenly lead to a catastrophic change (in a mathematical sense) to a new stable state. I don't claim to be wise enough to say that SaaS is such a tipping point though. Maybe it's just same-old-same-old. Maybe it's even a response to a tipping point, and we didn't notice the world crashing around our ears...

      • by Vancorps (746090)

        You're definitely right, when multi-core processors hit mainstream no one was terribly impressed, they were aware of SMP already but it enabled a whole new world of virtualized computing and densities that made it prohibitive before.

        Suddenly one server really can do the work of 8 old servers and without any sacrifices. This even makes clustering cheaper which is something not nearly enough companies employ given how reliant many companies are on their IT infrastructure.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vertinox (846076)

      It's one of the rags that CIOs like to have up front to show they are "in touch".

      I thought it was because it was free and it feels like a waste just to throw it away.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by antifoidulus (807088)
      Not to mention this is another article in a long series of articles that essentially says "do your bosses job for less money than they will ever make or you will be fired!" type bullshit that managers just eat up(without even being remotely critical of the logic or conclusions). Essentially it allows managers to use fear to get their underlings to do even more work so the manager can spend more time golfing while getting a higher salary with the belief that only management is indispensable, but honestly I
    • Improvements in efficiency effect jobs.

      It is not evil or part of some plot. It is just life. As we find better ways of doing things jobs are lost. Why don't we have a local blacksmith, because factories can for the most part do the same thing for cheaper and more quickly.

  • The reality check implies practical experience. The more the better. Things don't always work out the way you expect.

  • Slow Progression (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jazz-Masta (240659) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @10:42AM (#28795215)

    There is a slow progression to that point. Looking back 10 or 20 years ago today there have been significant advancements in technology and many game-changing technologies that never became mainstream. Even virtualisation has been held back by the 'needs' of the small and medium business - most have no need for it. The cloud will start in large enterprises and maybe trickle down to small businesses in some form or another, but we'll still need many IT techs at all levels of knowledge and organisation.

    As long as businesses hold onto legacy software, advancement will be kept at a reasonable maximum. We still have accounting software that is 25 years old. Can we put that in the "Cloud"? Perhaps cloud computing or grid (like electricity utility) is where we are headed, but the jobs that is displaces will be filled in the "Cloud Industry".

    I try to keep my feet wet in all aspects of IT regardless of the specific duties I'm performing at a job - this way I can at least have a taste for what I enjoy, what I'm capable of (programming, say) or where I might like to be in 10 years. As trends pick up, I'll devote more time to the fields which may have a better payoff in not only my personal life, but my professional life. I have dabbled enough in virtualisation to become proficient, but I am no expert - mainly because I, or the company I am at, have little to no use for it at the moment, but I realize the possibility my next job may have for it.

    What the Industry sometimes fails to realize is that it is IT people who make or break the products. From the majority of /, readers responses to all these Cloud Computing posts, the main concerns are reliability and security. Reliability may be solved soon, but I feel security will always be a neverending list of crackers and incompetence on the part of the cloud utility. Too many stories of losing usb keys, laptops, security passes, passwords, etc, on the part of large "no fail" companies that should know better. Most businesses will be very very adverse to giving up control of their data, and somehow I don't see that ever changing, even when they claim the risk is almost 0%.

    • by dkf (304284)

      What the Industry sometimes fails to realize is that it is IT people who make or break the products.
      [...]
      Most businesses will be very very adverse to giving up control of their data, and somehow I don't see that ever changing, even when they claim the risk is almost 0%.

      Don't forget to factor in the "costs" (in a broad sense) of doing stuff the old way too. While putting stuff out there definitely does carry a risk, so does keeping it in-house where it is subject to a lot of bumbling incompetence. Let's be honest. Not all IT staff are amazing superheroes who instantly enable their users to do anything they want while simultaneously upholding all corporate policies.

      (FYI, a number of big businesses are looking hard at running internal clouds, which muddies the picture a lot.

    • Re:Slow Progression (Score:4, Interesting)

      by bjourne (1034822) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @11:25AM (#28795725) Homepage Journal

      What the Industry sometimes fails to realize is that it is IT people who make or break the products. From the majority of /, readers responses to all these Cloud Computing posts, the main concerns are reliability and security. Reliability may be solved soon, but I feel security will always be a neverending list of crackers and incompetence on the part of the cloud utility. Too many stories of losing usb keys, laptops, security passes, passwords, etc, on the part of large "no fail" companies that should know better. Most businesses will be very very adverse to giving up control of their data, and somehow I don't see that ever changing, even when they claim the risk is almost 0%.

      When the cloud utility is Google, IBM, Amazon or some other mega corporation there is no way in hell that the security or reliability will be any worse than what a small company can muster on their own. The writing's been on the wall for a long time now, but many techies that love dealing with server infrastructure doesn't want to give up control of what they have, or aren't able to admit that someone else can do their job better. It is the same thinking which is why some people still insist on building their own servers by assembling the hardware components themselves and running Gentoo instead of buying something pre-packaged. Economies of scale doesn't work out very well for those.

    • Re:Slow Progression (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Archangel Michael (180766) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @11:25AM (#28795737) Journal

      Even virtualisation has been held back by the 'needs' of the small and medium business - most have no need for it.

      I would beg to differ. Most don't see the NEED for virtualization, but I can assure you that it is very much a hidden asset (need) that is not being fulfilled.

      Most people see technology as "we'll fix it when it breaks". And they have no idea how much their lives and businesses depend on it, until it disappears.

      Long term replacement plans are never employed, and businesses end up being held hostage by disaster.

      I know of plenty of small businesses who have gone out of business because their ONE server has died, and they can't recover the data. Their one server died, because it was ten to twelve years old, and they never thought to do backups, or replace it, or whatever because they don't have a full time IT staff dedicated to supporting it to explain why they need to worry about such things.

      Virtualization is just another means of removing Hardware dependencies from the equation. That Abstraction layer is such that you can migrate the server to new hardware faster and easier than trying to migrate it. I can do a whole new hardware platform migration in a few minutes with VMWare. Shut the old machine down, move the VM to the new box, fire it up.

      And when you add in features like snapshots it just rocks. I can't tell you how much snapshots are worth. I've even used VM snapshot in a criminal investigation, where we could show exactly when the fraud was started.

      It saves them money, and headaches, and eventually it will save their business.

      • by Vancorps (746090)

        Shut the old machine down? XenMotion and Vmotion allow you to migrate to new hardware without evening dropping a packet!

        Shocked me the first time I did a XenMotion migration as I was recursively pinging the host to see if it would drop anything and indeed it didn't. Of course it helps to have a really fast back-end storage mechanism. NetApp has done well by us for this as my slowest NetApp unit is what I've been doing my testing with. This also means I can do volume snapshots with NetApp, then mirroring th

        • by caluml (551744)

          I was recursively pinging the host

          What does that mean, exactly?

          • by PFactor (135319)
            Googling "recursion" always makes me laugh. On topic, I bet he means he has 2 hosts pinging each other and he Vmotion..err...Xenmotions one of them.
      • All the more reason for a small business, and particularly one NOT engaged in IT as their core business, to outsource the entire server(s) infrastructure to an external virtualization provider who offers all of these services for a reasonable contracted fee. It is all about cost, benefit, and the probability of particular events. It may even be justifiable to purchase additional insurance against certain events, like the aforementioned server crash, to provide additional protection. This isn't rocket scienc
      • On the one hand, of course businesses who run more than one server have or will virtualize them. This will save some staff time, what with fewer boxes. It's trading hardware complexity for software complexity, but it's a good trade.

        But then, do you want to host your virtualized servers on "the cloud"? Totally separate question. Yes, it's easier to move a virtualized server off to the cloud. But why do you want to? To save on hardware maintenance costs? Really? You've still got computers in your office, righ

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by CanadaIsCold (1079483)
      I think we all need to really listen to the basic message of this article though. Things are going to change, automation and virtualization will become more and more common within the datacenter. Your point on security is a good one but public isn't the only cloud delivery model. A private cloud solution leaves the internal security organization in control. It has higher upfront costs than public cloud but has some advantages.

      I think you're right that IT people make or break a solution and the same is tru

    • by vertinox (846076) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @12:45PM (#28796905)

      Most businesses will be very very adverse to giving up control of their data, and somehow I don't see that ever changing, even when they claim the risk is almost 0%.

      I really don't think you understand the average mindset of a PHB or MBA.

      Most of them don't understand the concept or care enough to learn about it as long as they get their bonus.

      These are the same people who outsourced positions that would be reviewing critical and confidential data overseas and these are the same people who are going to jump ship with a golden parachute when the ship sinks.

      Maybe I'm being cynical, but most businesses will happily give up their data even though their IT dept is screaming bloody murder because its cheaper for them to do so or that the vendor salesperson bought them the best lunch.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @10:42AM (#28795217)

    And I say that as a sysadmin myself.

    There are thousands of businesses around the world that are just large enough to need a couple of full-time IT people of some description. These businesses account for a lot of IT jobs. If you actually crunch the numbers, the huge companies of this world don't employ that many people as a percentage of the working population.

    SaaS allows a business to grow much larger before it needs a full-time IT presence than was previously possible - all those crappy little applications (of which there are thousands) that IT technicians, sysadmins etc. got to know backwards and inside out and were next to useless in their next job are going the way of the dodo. PC so full of viruses and spyware it's virtually unusable? Considering the amount of money you'll pay per month for a full-time member of staff, it may well be cheaper to keep a couple of spares in the cupboard and just bin it when you hit trouble.

    This is great for the business - they can get more done for less money. Not so much for the sysadmin.

    • by Vancorps (746090)

      As a sysadmin myself I feel confident in saying that you're way off base particularly because of SaaS. When you depend on a 3rd party entity to provide you with access to applications that means your local infrastructure needs to be rock solid because you can't afford to wait for some contractor to come out and fix whatever broke. This is especially true for those businesses that currently get by with one IT guy, this will still not enable those 5 person shops to grow to 50 without needing a full time sysad

      • by jimicus (737525)

        You raise some good points, but my perspective is different to yours as I'm in the UK.

        Our ISPs have a slightly different model when you buy a leased line - usually, they run the line and provide a managed router and the demarcation point where it becomes your problem is the ethernet cable on the your side of the router. What technology they use to get the Internet connection to that router - E1, OC3, carrier pigeon - is not normally something the customer has to care about.

        And if you go with either of the

        • by Vancorps (746090)

          I work for a car company with 50 employees, not only do we have a full time sysadmin, me, we have an it director, help desk guy, pbx guy, and dedicated programmer.

          Of course I'll admit we are unusually tech heavy due to the nature of our business.

          With SaaS you are pretty much right except for what happens when that managed router dies. It's never a question of if, but when. There's also the fact that unless people stop using computers anytime you'll still need to manage them even if they are doing simpler

  • Blue will shift to white... until white shifts back to blue. And all jobs will eventually be outsourced or replaced by scripts... About the time you decide to get a mortgage in a house you can't afford...
  • Blue collar??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Itninja (937614) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @10:48AM (#28795285) Homepage

    This shift from 'blue-collar IT to white-collar IT'...

    I don't think anyone, anywhere, ever, has considered an IT worker 'blue collar'.

    • Seconded -- if your job can't kill you it's not really blue collar.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by tsstahl (812393)
        I had a decommissioned half loaded 42U rack fall on me once.

        An 8U server once fell and hit me in the head on another occasion.

        My primary datacenter chiller caught fire while I was literally sitting next to it working on a piece of equipment. BTW, Halon works.

        The coup de grace of danger was when a leaking overhead pipe was cascading water over a 400 amp three phase power main cabinet. I had to go in and pull the disconnect lever.

        Danger finds a way. :)
        • by Vancorps (746090)

          haha... you sound like me, always end up in the oddball situations. A rain storm had blooded the basement of a hotel I was working on. We had to wade through a foot of water pouring out of the main power cabinet! We figured since it hadn't shorted the power we were safe.

          I was pulling a storage server out once, half way out the rails gave way and to my stupidity I put my foot out to slow it down breaking a toe but saving the server!

          This is still nothing to the tent guys that work for us that climb 300 feet

    • by King_TJ (85913) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @11:10AM (#28795485) Journal

      .. gray collar, because much of I.T. lies in this fuzzy area between blue and white collar job descriptions.

      On one hand, you need to have education and intelligence above what's typically needed for a "blue collar" job. (I realize there are plenty of jobs, like various areas of construction, where one needs to use their brain, have some math skills, etc. etc. But they probably re-use the same basic set of skills for years, as long as they specialize in the same job, like flooring installation, or drywalling, or ??) With I.T., everything changes regularly -- if for no other reason, simply because companies need excuses to keep reselling people the same items they already bought 2 or 3 years earlier. Also, the fact that I.T. workers usually work in climate-controlled office environments compares to the norm for a "white collar" position. All in all, I.T. workers are paid for their knowledge more than for their physical labor.

      On the other hand, like a "blue collar" job, I.T. workers usually get stuck doing everything from cleaning dust and dirt out of the insides of workstations to crawling under tables and desks, along dirty floors, and climbing ladders to reach drop ceilings or duct-work, to get network cabling run. They may spend a good part of a workday un-boxing new systems, carrying them around to their destinations, and hooking up cables - plus carting off the old ones. They may be asked to clear printer jams, or go out on a shop floor in a factory environment, and disassemble equipment that has a computer board and processor at the heart of it (maybe even to fix an issue as simple as the CMOS battery having gone dead, so the BIOS no longer holds settings).

      • by MrCrassic (994046)

        If we're following this logic, then it really depends on the job function. Personally, I think that the typical desktop tech is veering closer to a blue-collar position as computers increasingly become low-priced commodity items. We're already at the point where people can land "PC tech" and even sysadmin jobs if they simply get certificates from specialized trade schools. This is the same process that mechanics, plumbers and electricians can follow to get farther along in their career paths.

        That's not to s

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @10:57AM (#28795361)

    1) Flexibility: difficult to mold SaaS solution to your specific business operations.

    2) Reliability: requiring a connection to the internet adds an additional point of failure.

    3) Speed: easy to get 40mbps internally. Internet connect is more likely to be 1.5mbps split 50 ways.

    4) Cost: from what I have seen, SaaS is not especially cheap.

    5) Security: debatable.

    6) Vendor-lockin: if you need something changed on the server side, you only have one choice for the developers.

    I don't really know, and I suppose a lot of it is situational, but I am not certain that that is going to take over the world any time soon.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      A lot depends on the kind of client that would go for SaaS.

      Companies that depend on their IT to give them the edge over the competition? Probably not.

      Companies that are sufficiently big & complicated that there will never be a "one-size fits all" solution that suits them? Probably not.

      Companies that do something that is not directly related to IT and just see the computer as a sophisticated calculator/typewriter/balance sheet? Ah, now that's more likely.

      And I'll tell you now that companies in the fin

    • by Abcd1234 (188840)

      1) Flexibility: difficult to mold SaaS solution to your specific business operations.

      I'm not sure I've seen anyone proposing replacing in-house or custom built software with SaaS. It's for things like Word or other "stock" applications that you'd otherwise mass-deploy.

      2) Reliability: requiring a connection to the internet adds an additional point of failure.

      Well, I think in today's day and age, with large volumes of corporate inter-communication occuring over the internet (I get a lot of my correspondence

      • I should have been more clear. I was mainly thinking along the lines of ERPs, or other such business software. As far as office software goes, I'm not sure if I see a big advantage that google-apps has over openoffice.

      • by Deosyne (92713)

        "1) Flexibility: difficult to mold SaaS solution to your specific business operations.

        I'm not sure I've seen anyone proposing replacing in-house or custom built software with SaaS. It's for things like Word or other "stock" applications that you'd otherwise mass-deploy."

        Most of the vendors that we have been speaking with who are promoting cloud computing offerings do so in the context of general purpose computing. Essentially, they offer to host your data center and provide pre-built machine images containi

    • by raddan (519638) *
      7) extortion

      This is really a follow-on to #6, but there's nothing stopping a SaaS vendor from getting you hooked on their service and then jacking up their prices. Adobe uses this strategy. Their early revisions are often cheap, but after a few years, the price is through the roof. Captivate is a good example-- when that came out (from Macromedia), we bought a number of copies for $80 each. 4 years and 3 versions later, Captivate is now more than $800 a copy! Now, since this is pretty much our break
  • And how do you connect to it? I hate this idiotic world view that we all magically plug into the cloud and the data mystically appears in front of our eyeballs.

    Last time I checked, the cloud holds the data... it doesn't get us to the cloud, nor does it process the data (well, in some cases, maybe).

    They're all unknowingly implying that we're going to plug into some matrix style knowledge bank.

    And if that really is the case, I guess my IT job will shift to cleaning those metal brain plugs.

    • by hemp (36945)

      I heard the same reasoning when IT moved to networked drives and shared printers.

  • Software for consumers is mostly Consumer Products which is a part of the industry that doesn't employ that many IT professionals.

    The vast majority (by far) of IT professionals works in IT Services and in-house software development units, both of which are pretty much all about custom enterprise applications development and integration.

    The other bit of the industry left (IT Corporate Products) is again all about corporate applications development and integration (which while mostly product oriented still in

  • Uh huh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @11:20AM (#28795641) Journal

    Because, of course, once we're all in the cloud, computers won't crash any more, LANs will just magically build themselves and the Internet will never go down.

    • This is the thing about the Matrix that I kept thinking about when watching the movie. No whistling IT person (or even robot IT person) cleaning the contacts on the killer robots...

      Somebody, somewhere, has to do the work.
  • by bbasgen (165297) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @11:34AM (#28795851) Homepage
    IT complexity has increased over time. There is always this notion that IT is going to down size, but this isn't going to happen when a greater number of services are shifting to IT and while complexity of systems and integration continues to increase. Outsourcing creates the illusion that IT is "shrinking", but that is a misnomer: IT has actually increased in size, just not through some brick and mortar method. As an example, at our college we are moving to Google Apps for students. This hasn't replaced some in-house Office solution we created for students. It is a totally new feature. Sure, it is outsourced, but it has to integrate with our existing systems, etc. This has increased our responsibilities and services offerings. We did the same for a 24/7 helpdesk -- we outsourced, but it is an entirely new offering, so our size and services increased again.

    When the complexity of IT systems plateaus, becomes commoditized, then IT staff will indeed experience some fundamental shifts. As it is now, for every system that is commoditized, two or three more have increased in complexity.

  • There is more to SAAS and Cloud computing than the technical aspect. People, in general, are averse to change, and introducing another technology into the Peter Principle must be factored in as well. As our cultures become more complex and risk-averse, that is more enhanced, meaning that there has to be a very tangible REASON to change that is worth the upsetting of the status quo.

    So for the short term, only early adopters are going to dip their toes in this water, by putting hot-swap sites on a cloud (th

  • New name, but same-old same-old.
  • The real danger here is Billy D. Williams selling you out to the emperor and his tall, dark lackey with the cape. Only this time they will be water-boarding Chewbacca, and Han Solo will be trapped by a lengthy and expensive Carbonite data protection contract.
  • hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thatskinnyguy (1129515) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @11:40AM (#28795917)

    It's ignorant to think that the future will all run on VMs, clouds, moonbeams and sunshine. All of that has to run on physical equipment somewhere. There is no such thing as something that exists 100% in the ether. It has to reside somewhere. These are physical ones and zeros we're talking about here.

    With it residing somewhere, there has to be someone to design, build and maintain that equipment.

    Also when companies see how big of a dip the performance of their critical apps take when they migrate to VMS, I can see a shift back to the racks and racks of servers.

    Another Infoworld Fail.

    Yours Truely,
    Devil's Advocate

    • Also when companies see how big of a dip the performance of their critical apps take when they migrate to VMS, I can see a shift back to the racks and racks of servers.

      Some would say the performance hit is worth it when you gain the ease of scaling your app at a moments notice with more virtual machines (if your app supports it AND you have the available capacity).

  • We have pretty much come full circle in concept. ( for those that remember the old days where everything was processed out on the big iron )

  • So, you dump your entire Data Center in favor of Cloud computing, you embrace it all. Webmail, apps, collaboration services.

    And then that fateful day comes when the Cloud is suddenly 404, and even your trifecta of Internet pipes isn't helping you get to your data.

    C'mon, give me a break. People absofuckinglutely freak out when Gmail has a hiccup, and that is but ONE service needed in business today.

    Nevermind the Security aspects of data in the cloud with Government buying and bailing their way into Corpora

  • by PPH (736903) on Thursday July 23, 2009 @12:07PM (#28796325)

    What cloud computing will do is to erase the advantage that one company has over their competitors. Take a company who has a 'better' business process and has built their in-house IT systems around it. Now, have them move to a cloud solution. The first things that must go are their custom data models and algorithms. Companies re-engineer themselves to fit OTS applications much more often than they customize the apps to fit the business. The next thing to go wil be their in-house development staff. No sense in keeping them around when nothing is left to be written that is specific to their company. Next, the executives who have domain knowledge specific to that companies' core processes can go. Since everyone in the industry (or across many) use the same processes, why pay big salaries when the supply of suitable talent is much larger.

    So tell me: Why should I do business with your company? What do you do that your competitors don't? I mean, the cheap ones, in India or China.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      What cloud computing will do is to erase the advantage that one company has over their competitors. Take a company who has a 'better' business process and has built their in-house IT systems around it. Now, have them move to a cloud solution. The first things that must go are their custom data models and algorithms.

      Why?

      Existing cloud platforms (e.g., Amazon EC2) let you run any software in the cloud. You are confusing "cloud computing" (which is, insofar as you are using someone else's cloud, hardware as a

      • by PPH (736903)

        Cloud computing is a catch-all phrase for everything from hardware as a service to standard enterprise apps. You start with shipping everything to a server farm off-site. Then its lower level cloud apps, like GMail, calendaring, word processing. Next, its HR, payroll, inventory, etc. With each step, you give up the ability to customize an app or process for some cost savings. The cost savings are tangible, the benefits of leveraging domain-specific knowledge is not so easily identified.

        So that you don't th

  • I'm already planning my next career: career re-training!
  • IT can get as business-like as it wants, but I want to see a large company *try* and axe the desktop/PC tech teams. Because we all know that Windows Vista is the first operating system that can fix itself...

    The only people that suffer from these vertical moves are those at the lowest ends of the totem pole (i.e. help desk). Techs and admins were needed when computers were the size of small datacenters. Techs and admins were needed when the first desktop PCs became big. Techs and admins are still needed toda

  • ...except change out "cloud-sourceing" for "Fourth-Generation Languages", and it could have been written in 1985.

    Alas, "The Business End" resolutely REFUSES to let their IT be easy-to-make and easy-to-use; they always want "more power" even if it is illusory.

    Look at the web: nothing could be simpler and hand more control over document production and dissemination than HTML assisted by a basic editor (the early ones were far simpler than word processors) and, say WinSCP to drag files up to a series of Unix d

  • I hate these sweeping assumptions that all programming is for websites or distributable business apps.
    Believe it or not, operating systems, embedded systems, firmware, games, scientific apps, engineering apps, etc etc don't write themselves.

  • I find it unbelievable how things have made full circle in 12 years time.

    Between 1997 and 2000 I worked as a programmer for two companies, using COBOL on WANG VS. The first one was in a small transport firm (~20 employees), and my main task was writing software for supporting the business. I also had to support the PC's, but that was strictly bare minimum. As a programmer, it was my task to know the business and be able to write software which helped the owner leverage DP to get more income or manage his r

  • In 1987, someone told me that Wordstar, Lotus 1-2-3 and dBase III (don't remember if the plus version existed then) will make programmers redundant.

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