Cloud-Based Career Planning

by Steve Todd | August 16, 2010

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In the high-tech industry there is no escaping the term “cloud computing”. There is also no escaping the many definitions that people use to define it. For the purposes of this post, let’s go with the definition used by the U.S. Government:
“Simply defined, cloud computing is a technology that allows users to access and use shared data and computing services via the Internet or a Virtual Private Network using a scalable range of resources without having to build infrastructure to support these resources within their own environments or networks."

One of the reasons that the hype is so prevalent at the moment is that certain aspects of “cloud computing” are at the peak of the Gartner Hype Cycle of Innovation.


Image used from Wikimedia Commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gartner_Hype_Cycle.svg

If this graph holds true then cloud computing will move towards the Plateau of Productivity over time.

What career strategy would best serve an individual that wishes to capitalize on the cloud-computing Slope of Enlightenment?

I would recommend the following: jump into private cloud, and prepare for public cloud.

Jump Into Private Cloud

According to this article by David Linthicum of InfoWorld, enterprise spending on “private cloud hardware” will soar in the first half of this decade. According to David, here’s why:

The growth in private cloud computing hardware revenue is not surprising. Survey after survey has shown that enterprises moving to cloud computing are looking to move to private clouds first, which means many new boxes of servers are showing up in the lobby to build these private clouds.

In other words, corporations are initially hesitant to completely outsource their complex data center services to a third party. They would rather first rebuild their data center into a more efficient, virtualized environment while building a bridge to the second option: outsourcing to public clouds. This means that training yourself for a career deploying highly virtualized servers, networks, and storage is a solid career choice. Acadia, for example, is an organization providing career growth as part of the VCE Coalition.

One further hindrance to the complete outsourcing of IT services to the public cloud is legal liability. Consider this article from Nancy Gohring of ComputerWorld, which discusses the legal difficulties inherent in public cloud provider contracts:

The situation points to a larger issue in cloud and hosted computing. "The specifics of legal obligations haven't been figured out and put into best practices," said Michael Cote, an analyst with RedMonk. "This is a stumbling block."

He expects it'll be some time before the industry reaches a sort of consensus on legal terms in contracts. He compares such issues with the early days of open source when legal teams didn't know how to handle legal issues around open-source software, so they often simply forbade employees from using it. "It took 10 or 15 years to iron it out. Now everyone understands how to use it and for the most part there are no problems," he said.

Prepare for Public Cloud

The public cloud forecast is not all bad, however. The inability to hammer out effective public cloud hosting contracts is likely near the “Trough of Disillusionment” stage. IT specialists should keep a close eye on (and ready themselves for) growth in this market. For example, the predictions for Amazon.com’s public cloud revenue growth are significant:

Today [Aug 2 2010], UBS Investment Research analysts Brian Pitz and Brian Fitzgerald released a report which projects revenue numbers against Amazon’s web services. The duo estimate that in 2010, AWS will generate about $500 million in revenues and will grow this number to $750 million by 2011. By 2014, it would bring in close to $2.54 billion in revenues.

Consider how these numbers might rise as more and more enterprise customers overcome their fears of hosting their resources with third parties.

What does it mean to “prepare for an IT public cloud career”? Well, one effective strategy would be to start learning about the technologies that will likely be deployed in the public clouds of the future.

If you would like more advice on how to best prepare your career to take advantage of cloud technology, consider subscribing to this blog.

Steve
http://stevetodd.typepad.com
Twitter: @SteveTodd
EMC Intrapreneur

Filed Under: Technology

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