The Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) went mainstream last week when the New York Times published an article on the subject. Most of it was old news to the federal IT community, but it was probably new information for the rest of the world.
Aimed at readers who do not live and breathe high tech, the article provided a lot of context about data centers and cloud computing. It was accurate, useful context as far as it went. But I found myself wishing for a richer picture concerning FDCCI’s impact on jobs. That may be too much to ask from an article like this one, but the probable future of the IT profession is more complex and interesting than a simple “tens of thousands of jobs will most likely be eliminated.”
There is indeed a general belief among COOs and CFOs that consolidating data center operations and adopting cloud computing will reduce the staff needed to manage IT operations. There are plenty of examples in Industry that validate this belief. But the role of IT professionals will also evolve.
Even as infrastructure and workloads migrate into the cloud, IT professionals will still be required to manage and integrate cloud-based application services. But the IT professional of the future will have to be much more business centric, and will need “soft skills” to communicate with the business managers and refine the business models that define cloud computing. Rather than managing inefficient, underutilized infrastructure and business applications, the future IT professional will collaborate with key stakeholders and strategic vendor partners to co-create business value.
IDC predicts that as a result of cloud computing, there will be fewer large-scale contracts for outsourcing functions as well as less spending by government agencies on custom application work. Competition by the largest vendors will focus on consulting, implementing and managing private clouds, and small vendors will continue to focus more on “traditional” IT. [IDC, Government Insights #GI226454, January 2011]
This evolution will lead to job growth and present opportunities to a new generation of IT professionals who can provision and manage a set of highly integrated services on a virtualized and highly automated infrastructure that can be configured using easy-to-understand business rules.
So while the adoption of cloud computing may have a detrimental impact on IT jobs in the near term, the future looks bright for IT professionals.