Cloud computing, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand, is fast becoming a reality, which means a wave of new jobs being created as the international drive to agree global standards intensifies. [Published 18/5/2010]
The latest initiative announced by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) last week aims to fuse 26 different standards across the globe in order to create a single ‘cloud ecosystem’.
The fruits of this labour, says Bilel Jamoussi, chief of the Study Groups Division ITU, will be "job creation and job mobility on an international scale". New jobs and skills will be required in end-user departments and the supplier side of the information and communications industry.
"Job creation and mobility will occur in multinational companies that operate across different jurisdictions, governments and in other parts of the private sector," he says.
While ratifying an international standard may take a while, the open source research director with Ovum, Laurent Lachal, believes the culture of cloud computing is already pervading the IT department: "CIOs are interested in developers who can use asynchronous messaging and build stateless applications. The idea of developing multi-tenancy applications is also gaining ground."
Lachal reckons it’s as important to acquire the new culture as hard skills. IT pros can prepare for the new era by learning to be as comfortable utilising third party resources as those built in-house.
And, while participating ITU technical experts beaver away today to create the network protocols, transport layers and security for tomorrow’s model, individuals, businesses and universities need to be ready, too. "There is a new set of skills that have to be developed and cultivated for working in this new paradigm", says Jamoussi. He predicts the following trends for ICT skills deployment.
1. In-house application development
In a future cloud-scape, in-house IT staff will be used less for routine management of servers and infrastructure and more to develop mission-critical applications. A new level of customisation will also be required to ensure applications work properly over the cloud environment. There are three considerations of especial importance:
• applications can cope with time delays in transmission
• ensure that broadband provision is elastic enough to cope with variable usage
• security is sufficiently robust for valuable IP to be located outside the enterprise perimeter.
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2. Data centre optimisation
The running of the new super-data centres is also expected to require specialisation. Currently, data centres tend to be co-housed alongside the rest of the IT department and staff. In the future, these specialist staff will need to:
• check that connections between data centre and clients operate at a sufficiently secure level
• operating system licenses are in good order
• take care of arising optimisation concerns.
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3. Rise of the digital asset manager
With many valuable applications and services both in-house and third party needing to be accessed in the cloud and required on a ‘need-to’ basis, a new type of manager will be necessary to oversee the consumption from — and interaction with — this lofty new universe of data. The digital asset manager will need a mix of project and programme management skills with good auditing know-how, financial management and IT expertise thrown in.
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