It is that time of year, at least for those of us in the United States or Canada, to pause and give thanks for the blessings of the harvest and the preceding year. This holiday gives us a moment to reflect on the good things we have in life while sharing a feast with family and friends. To my friends and peers scattered across the globe who share my passion for virtualization and cloud computing: we have something to be very happy and thankful for, and that is the future of the employment options in the cloud computing space.

I recently ran across a few articles in CloudTimes, including this, this and this, that paint an excellent picture of the future in the cloud technology space. But before I get into that, let me start with the idea that virtualization and cloud computing have fundamentally changed the way information technology departments are run and staffed simply because of the way virtualization is designed. The technologists who actually touch and work on  physical server hardware are no longer in great demand, since the basic idea of virtualization is to create a small physical server footprint by being able to run multiple virtual machines on less physical hardware. This has been one of the biggest appeals of this technology ever since it made its debut around the turn of the millennium. One might think that this change is ushering in a reduction in overall IT staff, but I would like to suggest that the reduction in this area is accompanied by an opening of the doors in other areas relating to technical needs.

This transfer of skill sets in almost every modern data center around the world is happening so fast that there seems to be quite a shortage of people who are qualified to handle and maintain this growing trend and its needs in the corporate world. For those of us who have migrated to and are working in this new space, the future seems bright, with, at least for the moment, plenty of room for others in technology to increase their skill sets and join in the fun. In my humble opinion, there is currently no better market or skill set to have than in the cloud computing space. If you think about it, this space encompasses quite a few different areas of expertise: servers, desktops, storage, and networking, just to name a few. So, how good does the future look?

Assuming the cloud remains a number-one priority for companies, it appears that the industry is struggling to find the right people to respond to this new environment. In 2012, more than 1.7 million jobs related to cloud computing remained unfilled worldwide. As another example, Microsoft reported that the demand for cloud-savvy IT professionals will grow by 26% annually until 2015 and will create more than seven million cloud-related vacancies worldwide. In Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, IDC estimates a growth of 24% per year to about 1.4 million cloud-related IT jobs by 2015. The Asia-Pacific region will have largest growth (32% per year), resulting in more than 2.3 million cloud-related jobs by the end of 2015.

That is a lot of jobs and a lot of work available, yet we still see and hear about the number of technology professionals who are struggling to find the right opportunity. Unfortunately, for many of them and others, there were 1.7 million cloud-related jobs in 2012 that could not be filled due to the lack of skills and competencies from applicants. This problem, according to Microsoft, will continue to grow by as much as 26% every year until the end of 2015 if the skills gap cannot be addressed.

It is also worth mentioning two other major areas of interest that lack enough skilled and qualified people to handle new needs: security and big data, the latter having recently been spurred forward by the growth of Hadoop.

In review, the good news is that it appears there will be plenty of employment opportunities for the right “cloud people,” at least in the near future. The bad news is that technology people appear to be having a difficult time migrating their skill sets to match the needs of twenty-first-century data centers based in the cloud. For now, that is making the demand for these skill sets almost second to none, and with greater demand should come greater reward. This wave will not last forever, so now is the time to catch a ride, with the caveat that we all have a lot to learn in order to to catch up on or become more valuable in the data center. Let me raise my virtual glass in a toast to you all. May your cloud and your future be bright and shiny as we move into tomorrow in the cloud technology space.

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Steve Beaver (160 Posts)

Stephen Beaver is the co-author of VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center and Scripting VMware Power Tools: Automating Virtual Infrastructure Administration as well as being contributing author of Mastering VMware vSphere 4 and How to Cheat at Configuring VMware ESX Server. Stephen is an IT Veteran with over 15 years experience in the industry. Stephen is a moderator on the VMware Communities Forum and was elected vExpert for 2009 and 2010. Stephen can also be seen regularly presenting on different topics at national and international virtualization conferences.

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