Workforce reduction has affected millions of people worldwide since the latest world economic downturn, making this is an overly sensitive subject. People have been out of work for long periods of time and many were forced to find new careers. This is the premises of Larry Dignan’s argument in his article “Cloud Computing Will Destroy Jobs” is based upon, workforce reduction. His argument is not fully representative of the destiny of the IT workforce. Dignan’s claim, that the trend toward cloud computing is threatening jobs worldwide, fails to take into account the possibility that a shift of the workforce could take place.
Furthermore, that there would not be a total loss of the IT jobs due to this shift, but maybe a displacement. The outsourcing of computing in the cloud will not result in a loss of IT jobs worldwide, instead we will see a shift of the workforce to the cloud providers and a move by many organizations to create and manage their own cloud infrastructure.
Cloud computing is a term for a technology that has evolved over the past few years as the commercial use of the internet has increased. The cloud as we refer to it is not a cloud in the sky, but the use of the Internet to transfer data in an electronic form and store your data in an off site location. The organization, the client, will contract with a vendor company, the provider, to store data in a remote location to keep it safe. The vendor supplies the client with applications that run via an Internet connection that the client uses forms with the data in them. These applications, then save that data in the provider’s servers usually in two or more locations, because in the event of a natural disaster the data will be retrievable. The applications are running on the provider’s computers and the client accesses them from a web page or web portal. These computers known as servers are very powerful computers capable of running multiple software applications at one time. This storage of data in the remote location, and the computers storing this data, comprises a “cloud infrastructure.”
The majority of the larger health organizations se to this this for one primary reason, the cost of HIPAA compliance. The definition of HIPAA is a standard for the Privacy of individually identifiable health information and it regulates the confidentiality, integrity and availability of patient’s health information in electronic form. There are also many other organizations that are utilizing this technology by using the vendor’s web based software to store data in cloud storage facilities. Organizations have always and will continue to look for cost cutting measures and this recent move to cloud computing is no different. The cost is a reduction for the organization, but shifted the cost to the provider who can do it more effectively.
Getting back to Dignan’s claim the two main arguments, “Dire Prediction” and “Heading toward Full Automation,” are biased because they are coming from the theory of two research analysis interpretation of surveys from CIO’s they solicited. (McDonald and Aaron) The evidence from the Gartner symposium that is used is not based on solid evidence, but the researcher’s interpretation of the survey responses. The report has some collective opinions of CIO’s, but not solid evidence. The CIO’s opinions were their proposed plans, not their concrete plans, collected from surveys sent out by the Gartner research firm.
(MacDonald and Aron) While these predictions are useful to help other industry leaders get a glimpse into what the future might bring we should not jump to conclusions. College students in these degree programs could misunderstand these predictions and get discouraged about their career choices.
Now there is no disputing the fact that organizations large and small have been looking for cost cutting solutions since the recent recession and new government regulations. Many of these organizations have opted to use cloud computing as a swift and viable option that has resulted is job categories being eliminated. Larger organizations can absorb these lost positions into their other departments by job reassignment, but the smaller ones are forced to pink slip these people putting them out on the streets. This is definitely an issue of the digital age and the consequences of these technology advancements. There is a silver lining to all of this that we need to look at in order to see the big picture. The fact is that cloud computing is shifting the burden of supporting software or referred to as, managed IT services, and data storage from the organization to the Cloud providers. This migration to cloud services does introduce a need for people who understand how to manage migration to the cloud. Thus, they will need to hire these experienced individuals from outside the organization if they are not already working for them. The forward thinking organizations that are being proactive and building their own clouds for compliance and security reasons, are finding they will need people with the skills to do that for them. Taking into account these factors the lost jobs may be equalized by the job gains of individuals with a different skill set.
There is another trend going on that we should look at, that is the hiring prospects of the new and growing cloud provider companies. This exciting new trend is creating job opportunities for the experienced as well as the newly educated. These cloud providers, some of them growing quite exponentially, now have the burden of supporting many organizations and their data reliably and securely at a large cost reduction. They can do this because of the scale that they are doing it and the use of virtualization software. Virtualization software is software that allows a computer operating system to run with-in another operating system, thus saving the cost of additional hardware. Companies like Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft are all hiring at a rapid pace as evidenced by their employment postings. When you search their job posting you will find open positions for network engineers, server support specialists that take care of the hardware, and cloud support help desk positions. The fact is these providers still need people to maintain the massive number of servers that are constantly growing (with an average life expectancy of five years), the ever expanding network, and the customer support staff that will need to be provided. There is always a legion of employees in the background of any infrastructure to keep these systems working. The current outsourcing to the cloud has not had an adverse effect on the unemployment rate among the IT workforce, according to Bob Cuneo, CIO at tech staffing and consulting firm Eliassen Group. Bob Cuneo was quoted in an article titled “The cloud rains new job opportunities for tech workers” published August 29th, 2011, he stated “Unemployment among IT professionals is now are about 3%, way lower than the national average,” he adds. “That’s partly because of the growth of the cloud. It’s allowing us to place many more people in jobs.” (Fisher)
Job loss is a devastating thing to happen to anyone, especially when it is as a result of the new technology that we create to make our lives simpler. Understanding the destiny of the IT workforce can be theorized from the point of view of two sides. The one side that jobs will be lost at companies that are migrating to cloud managed IT services or the other side, jobs created at these cloud providers. The cloud providers need qualified staff to design, build and maintain these cloud infrastructures; furthermore as they continue to add more customers they will need to continue to hire more staff. According to the United States Department of Labor the major computer occupations these providers employ, there is a 6-22% projected growth between the years 2010 and 2020. (Bureau of Labor Statistics) There will likely be a shift in the workforce of any displaced workers from the companies that do not design, build and maintain their own cloud infrastructures. These companies will need to use the services of the rapidly emerging number of public cloud providers. If you are not already part of this expanding new field of opportunities, maybe you could be?
Dignan, Larry. “Cloud Computing Will Destroy Jobs.” 2013. Gale Opposing Viewpoints. web page. 6 April 2013.
Fisher, Anne. “The cloud rains new job opportunities on tech workers.” 29 August 2011. CNN Money. Web Page. 6 April 2013.
MacDonald, Mark P. and Dave Aron. Gardner;Executive Programs. 1 January 2011. document. 6 April 2013.
US Government. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 29 March 2012. publication. 6 April 2013.