Need a job in IT? The cloud needs you

There's big demand now for cloud engineers and architects -- but not many people able to fill them

It's always interesting to me to see the job growth in emerging spaces, such as cloud computing. Typically, the hype is huge around a concept (such as SOA, client/server, or distributed objects) about 8 to 12 months before there is notable job growth. This is often due to companies not understanding the value of the new technology, as well as to the lag in allocating budget and creating job reqs.

Cloud computing seems to be a different beast. After no fewer than four calls last week from headhunters looking for cloud architects, cloud engineers, and cloud strategy consultants, I decided to look at the job growth around cloud computing, using my usual unscientific measurements. This included a visit to the cloud job postings at indeed.com, which provides search and alerts for job postings and tracks trends.

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I figured that I would see a line that looks like the bunny slope, gradually sloping up from left to right. Instead, as you can see below, I saw extreme heli-skiing: Since January 2008, the growth in job postings that mention cloud computing has hit 350,000 percent. (Of course, those are all kinds of job postings that mention cloud computing, and some are perhaps not cloud computing jobs. But still.)

cc-job-trends.jpg

While I just have my personal experience to draw upon, this seems to be the largest inflection around a hyped space in IT that I've ever seen, especially considering we've been in a downturn in which many companies have reduced IT jobs.

There are only a handful of qualified people out there who actually understand the basics of cloud computing, much less the details behind cloud computing architecture, implementation, development, testing, and security. Thus, I suspect we'll see many jobs filled by the wrong people -- and the bad results that come from that. The larger issue is that the people doing the hiring also don't understand cloud computing, so they don't realize that the "expert in Amazon cloud service" claim on a résumé actually means the candidate can purchase books and shoes using the site's "one click" feature (true story).

So what does this rapid growth in cloud-computing-related jobs mean?

First, and foremost: I will stay fully employed. :-)

Second, the salaries of cloud computing experts will be driven up significantly as too many jobs chase too few qualified candidates.

Third, the need for cloud computing training will explode, including architecture, planning, testing, security, and deployment. There's lots to learn there, and it's very different than on-premise systems, trust me.

Finally, we'll have to deal with the many positions that will be taken by less than qualified staff. Thus, there will be some frustration around the productivity of cloud computing that in most cases will be traced back to a talent issue, not the technology itself. We saw the same thing with SOA.

Start that training and update your résumés, people.

This article, "Need a job in IT? The cloud needs you," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments on cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.

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