Most IT pros don't fear losing their jobs to the cloud

Survey respondents predict a rapid adoption of the cloud and a change in, not loss of, IT roles

Most people in the IT industry are sure that enterprise cloud computing usage will double in the next two years. But they also feel that IT professionals will not be displaced from their enterprise jobs because of the cloud.

IT professionals may even want to prepare themselves to convert their enterprise IT infrastructures into private and/or hybrid clouds, and to take on the role of provisioning cloud services for end users and business partners. So finds the Future Proofing the Cloud survey of 225 people including IT professionals, analysts and media conducted as part of the Cloud Leadership Forum held in Santa Clara, Calif., this week.

ANALYSIS: 12 ways the cloud changes everything

The survey asked attendees to divine the future of cloud computing by agreeing or disagreeing with 46 predictive statements. The predictions with the most consensus were those that said that adoption of cloud computing would boom in the next few years. The top prophecy of the bunch said, "By 2015, at least 30% of Fortune 1000 enterprises will deploy at least one business critical system in the cloud." Some 81% of respondents agreed.

Some 72% also agreed that "by 2014, one-third of all IT organizations will be providers of cloud services of one type or another to customers and/or business partners."

Plus, 79% agreed that "cloud service brokers that provide integration, management, security and other services across public cloud offerings will emerge as powerful industry players by 2015."

But the uptake in cloud services will occur much faster than four years, attendees felt. Fully 64% agreed that, "By 2013, the percentage of customer systems managed by third-party providers (including cloud services, hosters, outsourcers) will double from its current levels."

Interestingly, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to rapid adoption of clouds, private or public, can be IT employees who fear how their jobs will be affected. So says Mike Pearl, a cloud computing consultant for PricewatershouseCoopers. He tells the story of one of his client companies that was building a private cloud and falling behind schedule. An analysis showed that the IT staff had "subconscious resistance" to the project because they "were not sure what their jobs would turn into" once the daily tasks of managing systems were turned over the cloud, he says. Once the CIO created a very clear roadmap with new job descriptions for the IT employees, they became excited for the change and the cloud project was speedily implemented.

Respondents in this survey seemed less fearful of the job implications of cloud computing. When asked if they thought "75% of IT jobs will no longer exist as currently defined by 2015," 64% disagreed (only 20% agreed, the rest were unsure). Likewise, some 52% disagreed with this statement: "By 2013, most IT organizations will have gone through painful restructuring; brought on by the demands of building effective private clouds and/or capitalizing on public cloud." However, one-third did agree and the rest were unsure.

At more risk than enterprise IT employees are the vendors. 79% of respondents believe: "By 2015, at least one of today's top 10 IT cloud services vendors will have gone out of business, due to financial problems (poor business model, limited/no profitability, etc.)."

Meanwhile, optimism runs low that cloud computing will become more secure and reliable than it is today. Some 77% of respondents predict that "By 2013, there will have been numerous major public cloud failures and/or security breaches."

Even so, IT professionals don't think that they'll be kicked to the curb if their suppliers suffer outages because the systems that would be affected wouldn't be critical. 62% of respondents agreed with the statement: "Between 2011 and 2014, most CIOs will deploy only 'non-business-critical' applications in the public cloud."

Julie Bort writes the Microsoft Update and Source Seeker blogs for Network World's Microsoft Subnet and Open Source Subnet community sites. Follow Bort on Twitter @Julie188.

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