Best Argument: Yes
Audience Favored: No (69%)
Prepare for the worst
Just as I described a bleak future for retail in a previous Great Debate, with shopping malls becoming desolate wastelands due to the ever-increasing movement toward e-commerce, the majority of corporate datacenters are also going to be vacated due to an ever-increasing movement toward the cloud.
Only large-scale services providers, such as Amazon, Azure, Google, Rackspace, and Savvis, and the Tier-1 telcos like AT&T and Verizon are going to actually be able to afford large amounts of datacenter infrastructure, and will be able to provide the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that large corporations will expect in terms of resiliency, failover, and response time.
If IBM's recent acquisition of Softlayer and the forming of a new Cloud Services division means anything at all, it's likely a strong indication that seeing a slump in datacenter relocation/consolidation and business transformation efforts, it would be looking to bring customer virtualized servers in-house, using highly automated provisioning processes that would eliminate the need for a lot of datacenter staff.
I cannot claim to have a crystal ball. But the trends I am witnessing only point to a massive die-off in self-hosted infrastructure and corporate information technology jobs. Only the most highly skilled people are going to be able to adapt to this, much like the protagonists in our favorite zombie movies.
There will always be IT jobs
Information technology. When it works, it's great. When it doesn't work, it sucks. And there's your job security, right there. You know what I mean?
IT has always had its ups and downs, its innovation cycles, its chugging-along cycles, and its rip-and-replace cycles. IT pros have always been around to help design for the new innovation cycle, to keep things running during the chugging-along times, and to fix things when it all goes blue screen.
The cloud is no different. First, not everyone will cloud up. But even for those who do, there will be the design/migration phase which will require IT people. There might be a relatively calm operational phase where some corporations can try to avoid hiring a full IT staff, relying on the cloud vendor.
But there will come a time, as there always does, when the cloud vendor's interests and their corporate clients' interests are not aligned, and things begin to break down.
Add to the normal cycle of things the huge growth in health and security IT, the innovations and challenges that we're always engineering and engineering around, and you realize that the people who keep the computers working won't be replaced by computers any time soon.
But don't forget my cautionary advice: you have to keep trained up. Because while there will always be IT jobs, those jobs will go to those with the experience and training that's needed at the time.
A bitter pill
This debate was entertaining and informative -- and very close. In the end, I went against the crowd and for Jason Perlow. David Gewirtz made several solid points but in the end the cloud will destroy as many jobs as it creates. The cloud will ultimately be a bitter job pill for the industry.