Great points Cornelia.
Matthew Keller wrote:The employees that maintain hardware will go work for the Cloud company now. I'd assume the number of machines to maintain will either stay the same or grow world wide. The systems admins will just administer the machines through the Cloud companies interface now and still work for the same company. The application developers will also still work for the same company. So, it seems that the only people that necessarily have to change their place of employment are the hardware experts. I'd assume there are economies of scale at these larger data centers so there will probably be a need for fewer hardware people but I think they will get paid more.
To add a little more detail to my previous post. I work for a large hotel company and I'd say we are half way into the cloud at the moment, so I'm not just imagining what happens, I'm describing exactly what I see. Our system admins are very busy because they are still doing all the same things they did with our in house data center. For example, instead of configuring firewalls and opening ports on an F5, they are doing the same thing on AWS Route 53 and setting up things like Bastions (jump boxes), security groups, etc. You still have to configure all your own custom security and servers, you just do it the Amazon way. In fact we even have to SSH into the Amazon EC2's and configure software. You can start out with a nice cloud native image but you still have to set up your own software. Of course you can make AMI's and only do it "once" and build your Elastic Group from there, but there is still plenty of work to do. The really exciting thing is that now there is even more to "play with" like leveraging Cloud Front to cache your content all over the world. I think a system administrators job has gotten more interesting with all this technology rather than being lost.
We still develop lots of code in house. SAAS works great for HR systems like Workday but every business I have ever worked for has plenty of custom stuff they always need written. The devops code needs to be continally maintained, and updated as well. I wish every automated deployment only involved copying a war file to a server but a lot of our systems are more complicated than that. We could probably keep a person busy full time writing nothing but Chef and Ansible. Also, QA people can no longer just be manual testers. They have to be developers in their own right because we have them write Selenium scripts in java. I see application development continually growing. In fact, we are having a lot of trouble finding java developers at the moment. I'm becoming burned out on interviews because the recruiters can't seem to send us anyone qualified lately. Demand is way ahead of supply.
No doubt that the hardware guys that maintain the racks, the power backup system, the fire supression system, all the stuff in the data room will need to change jobs when this switch over is complete. Even if economies of scale mean that Amazon will only need half of those employees per customer, I still think the growth of the cloud industry will out race the supply of hardware guys. The better the cloud gets, the more people will find uses for it, and the more servers will be needed. That is why I don't think the hardware people will be losing their jobs either. They will just become more centralized. Probably a lot more will be living out in the country near the large data centers, and enjoying cheaper housing.