The cloud is all over the place these days; a single week will see two-three seminars on the subject in India. It is being called the biggest revolution in information technology since MSDOS. (That, by the way, was not a Microsoft product as everyone believes it to be; the company bought QDOS — Quick and Dirty Operating System — from Seattle Computer Products and modified it for IBM.)
What is the cloud all about? One definition is using multiple server computers via a digital network, as though they were one computer. You draw on additional processing power and software when you need it and you pay as you go. Sounds impressive, but it means nothing. As one critic, Oracles Larry Ellison, put it: The interesting thing about cloud computing is that weve redefined cloud computing to include everything that we already do. I cant think of anything that isnt cloud computing with all of these announcements. The computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than womens fashion. Maybe Im an idiot, but I have no idea what anyone is talking about. What is it? Its complete gibberish. Its insane. When is this idiocy going to stop?
If you examine the Hot Jobs for the IT industry (see box), cloud does get a look in. But look closer. What is a cloud architect? Its really a person who exploits the concept for the lay executive and investor. Says InfoWorld (from where the list has been adapted): Ask IT managers whether theyre in the cloud, and theyll tell you they always have been.
The cloud is the sort of thing that spells danger for job aspirants. Everybody is talking about it. So IT courses will sooner or later start offering it as a specialisation. To people like Ellison, it is clear that the cloud is nothing new. So they see cloud courses as a broad overview of the IT domain. Its like going to business school and emerging with a specialisation in general management. Your peers are taking up marketing, finance, production or whatever. You are the ultimate generalist. Hard luck, boss. The only job in the cloud is that of an evangelist. But its a false prophet — Pied Piper version 2.0.
The IT industry changes very fast. If there is a huge build-up over some new arena, a lot of people will get sucked in. It would have been worse if this had been a specialised area. You might have become an expert in C++ when Java is the language of choice. Thankfully, cloud computing can teach you a little bit of everything and a lot of nothing. Your learning process will start once you join a job.
So why are there so many converts? For the CEO, it reduces IT to a comprehensible level. For the CFO, it seems to eliminate expensive buying decisions. But there is bound to be a catch; people are already talking about private clouds. For the companies, its a new marketing technique. Your neighbourhood Parsi Dairy will allow you a taste of a new flavour before you buy it; why shouldnt IT companies do the same thing? They have been doing it with trialware and demoware. This way, you don't end up with permanently crippled software loaded on your system.
Its not in the IT arena alone that you will come across such revolutions. The best way to tackle them is to remember that the only revolutions that matter are the ones that creep up on you unawares. You notice only when you find that your job content has changed and it is also clear that your job requirements are altering. They call it evolution. It is only the headstrong, with his head in the sand (or cloud) who refuses to accept this.
Jobs in the offing
Business architect: The notion that IT is separate from business has faded. Upper management recognises that technology drives the way companies pursue business goals.
Data scientist: Big data represent a huge opportunity. There may be nuggets about customer behaviour, security risks, potential system failures, and more.
Social media architect: Social web tools and services are now entering business at every level, from back-office communications to business collaboration, workflow, and customer support.
Mobile technology expert: Building mobile apps, architecting mobile strategies, and securing those devices are the top concerns facing the enterprise.
Enterprise mobile developer: IT job sites are seeing a rise in listings for creators of enterprise mobile apps. Companies are looking for ways to make sense of mobile data, develop apps, and ensure security compliance.
Cloud architect: IT managers say that they have always been in the cloud. With people now tuned into the concept, demand is growing for IT pros to deliver on the efficiency promised by the private cloud.