Going to the Cloud: CAPEX, OPEX, Facilities, or People

On the 11/1  Virtualization Security podcast we had no special guest but continued a conversation started at Hacker Halted this year. It is the ongoing question of whether or not going to the cloud will cause jobs to be lost. The typical answer was stated at Hacker Halted, that people will need to cross-train with new products, etc. and then they would keep their jobs, but someone stood up and shouted out that this was hogwash. It made a lively discussion from there. So we tackled it on the podcast as well. Will people lose jobs going to the cloud? If so, how can this be prevented? What do you as IT professionals need to do, to plan your careers while going to the cloud?

Going to the Cloud

While Going to the Cloud or virtualization is seen as a savings initially but what type of savings? One of our callers argued that initially virtualization and cloud is a savings in people and nothing else. However, many of us disagreed with what was phrased as a short-sighted view of Cloud and Virtualization. We also discussed reduced budgets and the impact on the IT department. Granted, this all started as a security oriented discussion and about security professionals, but all of IT worries about this eventually. There is no job that is too important that cannot be removed, modified, or changed.

So what does this all sum up to?

  • The industry is changing, working together instead of siloed is a requirement for the future.
  • Any repetitive task will eventually be automated, what we did yesterday by hand will be done tomorrow by an automation tool whether virtual or physical.
  • Going to the cloud may not cost your job

The discussion continued along with each panelist weighing in with their thoughts. Each of us on the panel have gone through major changes in our own careers. We started with antiquated software and have moved to virtualization and cloud, specifically the security field. Is this a sinecure, the answer is no. If an IT organization is required to cut head-count then it will happen regardless. There is no real way to stop it. However, that is not the first response and often short sighted as we said before. There is an arc or even sine wave of IT ups and downs with respect to virtualization and cloud. When we started with virtualization it was all about cost savings, usually facilities cost on power and cooling, but there was a disconnect early on that seems to still exist with new implementations of virtualization and cloud. That is that virtualizing or moving to the cloud allows you to reduce your head count as IT will be managing less physical server, but what about the virtual machines and applications, they still need to be managed? What happens when that number grows from 100s to 1000s of virtual machines? How do you manage them? You may still need people. You may also need specialists early on in the arenas of cloud and virtualization, unless some of the existing people can be transitioned into that role.

Even so, the early adopters of virtualization and cloud are seeing a growth spurt. Their datacenters are filling up with systems running even more systems and they realize that they need to keep their head-count to manage it. But how can we as IT professionals make that transition?

The Transition

That is what it is, it is a transition. You have to take your IT career in hand and move it forward yourself.  Those who do not will not survive. So how do you do this? We even have suggestions just for security folks, after all it is a security podcast.

  • Keep up with modern technology, even if it is using a home lab
  • Get the Education required to learn the ins and outs of virtualization, cloud, and automation
  • If you are not currently involved in cloud, virtualization, or automation get involved, sit in on the meetings: just listen for a while
  • Learn the language spoken buy the new technology
  • Become the automator
  • Become a Cloud relationship expert for your organization: investigate the clouds
  • Even if a siloed environment, work with your other teams closer, find ways to hand off data as needed.
  • remove NO from your vocabulary

Most of this boils down to keeping up with technology to grow your career as we are going to the cloud. Now we know that this advice will not work for everyone and some people will be let go regardless of knowledge, that is the economy today. But there are jobs in virtualization, it is well worth going forth and reinvent yourself.

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