IT manager jobs to staff jobs in move to the Cloud

The ratio of IT managers to staff positions is expected to grow as organizations adopt cloud platforms, according to research from Computer Economics.
Written by John Hazard, Contributor

The ratio of IT managers to staff positions is expected to grow as organizations adopt cloud platforms, according to research from Computer Economics.

The typical IT organization usually maintains manager-to-staff ratio of about 11 percent (that number dips to 6 or 7 percent in larger companies), said John Longwell, vice president of research for Computer Economics. The ratio has been volatile for four years, according to the Computer Economics recently released study, IT management and administration staffing ratios. As businesses adjusted to the recession, they first eliminated staff positions, raising the ratio to its peak of 12 percent in 2009. In 2010, businesses trimmed management roles as well, lowering the ratio to 11 percent, Longwell said. But the long term trend is toward a higher ratio of managers-to-staff ratio, he told me.

"Over the longer term, though, I think we will see a continued evolution of the IT organizations toward having more chiefs and fewer Indians as functions move into the cloud or become more automated."

If the ratio of managers is set to rise, the nature of cloud means some managers are more likely to manage resources than staff. According to InfoWorld:

The cloud skill set is largely managerial.

The overall effects of cloud computing on IT jobs will likely resemble those of other trends such as outsourcing, automation, and utility computing: a gradual movement of the IT profession away from the nuts and bolts of technology toward the business end of the organization. "We call the shift the movement from blue-collar IT to white-collar IT," says Ted Schadler, a Forrester analyst. "The cloud is accelerating that movement of technology into the business, with business-process-level expertise becoming more important than ever." Formerly technology-centric jobs will require a lot more nontechnical, business-oriented capabilities, he says, and IT staffers will increasingly come from the business end of the organization.

Drue Reeves, vice president and distinguished analyst of cloud computing at Gartner, described two primary IT roles in the enterprise moving to the cloud: cloud leads (or cloud czars) and cloud administrators. Cloud Leads will be evangelists and consider the strategic role of cloud options for the entire business. Cloud administrators, formerly the network and storage administrators of the enterprise, will primarily manage the relationship with the cloud provider.

For those in operations, the cloud is knocking down silos between roles, turning career storage and network administrators into jacks-of-all-trades, Reeves said.

"Before the cloud, you might have been able to say you planned to be a storage guy forever, provisioning the storage arrays, managing software updates, replacing hardware, cabling. In the cloud, the provider is going to do all of that," he said. "You are going to have to configure the network firewall and determine how much storage you will need and communicate with the vendor, but that will be the same guy. No more separation to roles by IT function"

The move to the cloud is likely to increase the ratio of managers to staff, but it says even more about the changing nature of the IT workplace. It is likely that managers will work for the enterprise, overseeing a service run by staff positions at provider.

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