Best Argument: Yes
Audience Favored: No (69%)
Only the most agile and adaptable are going to survive
Jason Perlow: As in the zombie movies, only the most agile and adaptable are going to survive the datacenter apocalypse.
During my five-year tenure at IBM, beginning in the summer of 2007, I was heavily involved in the business of consolidating and relocating datacenters and performing different kinds of IT transformation and migration types of activities. These were very large, long-term projects engaged with large IT organizations that netted a significant amount of revenue for the company in the form of hardware, software, and services. For a time, we had many such deals running concurrently.
At the time I left the company, the pipeline began to run dry, and we started to look into ways we could use those skill sets of IT practitioners in doing other things, such as private cloud implementations.
Over the last six months, I've been hearing from my former colleagues that things have really, really slowed down since I left.
In the cloud, organizations can take advantage of self-service and pay-as-you-go infrastructure using the existing applications that they have today, and are willing to do more with less, putting transformation activities off for the time being.
That includes laying off some of their own staff, and deciding not to outsource as much to large services players like IBM as they used to.
Unless you have skill sets that are easily translatable to income in cloud and big data, you're probably going to end up as dead wood at a large services delivery firm.
It probably goes without saying that if the healthiest and largest of the consulting and professional services firms in our industry is going through a preventative workforce rebalancing act now, then I shudder to think about what the weaker ones are going to eventually have to do.
Or what the fate of the rank and file of many of the people who work in corporate datacenters and have sysadmin and implementation roles is going to look like, for that matter.
There will be jobs
David Gewirtz: Uh, no. Apocalypses haven't exactly lived up to their promise, now have they? Y2K? Meh. 2012? Yawn. The cloud? Well, it's not like all those servers are going to run themselves, now are they?
I know, you're thinking that's the point: they're automated. Yeah, when they work. But someone has to create the automation, someone has to maintain it, someone has to update it, and someone has to fix it when the programmers, who should have been paying better attention, instead got distracted for a week by a new release of Halo or a new Game of Thrones.
The computer biz is a cyclical business. We once had mainframes (think olden-day cloud). Then we went to PCs. Then we went client/server. At each of these transitions, there was going to be a job apocalypse. Sure, some of those old RPG and COBOL programmers didn't make the transition, but there were certainly plenty of IT jobs to go around.
The big secret is you have to keep growing your skills. As long as you keep learning, you won't be left behind in the excitement over cloud computing. There will be a tremendous amount of IT work to do, from porting legacy systems to defensive security to integrating mobile users to building distributed applications and on and on and on.
Might you have to learn some new skills? Sure. But will the entire industry of IT people come to a screaming halt because we have enormous data centers and use browsers to interface with them, rather than using an MMC plugin? Nope. There will be jobs. No doubt about it.