Cloud Computing, Downsizing and Shoe Makers

I think we are in trouble…By we I mean IT people mainly Operations. Over the last few weeks several articles crossed my way most of them are about massive layoffs by major IT companies, I think that within few months there will be more unemployed highly skilled experienced workers than employed ones, and given how everybody were talking about how in demand tech people are and how tech jobs have always dominated the top 5 jobs in any survey more people than ever are studying to become IT guys. If I was a university student, I’d definitely consider doing a career switch.

layoffs in the IT industry

It all started in 2010 with layouts in technology companies, a trend that didn’t stop and carried over to the first 2 Quarters of 2011, The major bulk of layouts will take place in Q3 though, already several IT companies announced their plans to lay off thousands of employees. CISCO announced that they are laying off 12,500 employees(15% of its workforce), RIM then went on to layoff  2,000 employees (10% of its workforce), That’s 14,500 highly skilled workers that are now looking for a job in the IT industry. Notice how apple isn’t mentioned here? Elegantly put by Time Business Magazine they talked about how the american industry is being driven off the cliff by MBAs, putting streamlining ahead of innovation can yield such results, after all once profit rather than technology is the focus of a company it seizes to be generate revenue, Being run by an innovative engineer rather than an MBA Apple has retained its focus on innovation and thus managed to retain its position in the market.

To top it all off the American government announced that its shutting down 40% of its Data Centers, choosing to switch to cloud computing instead which takes small infrastructure foot print and a smaller number of engineers to operate, that’s thousands of operations engineers getting laid off. Generally cloud computing is gaining momentum and as more and more people switch from classical data centers to cloud based Data center jobs are going to get more and more scarce. Outsourcing had a similar impact, the problem though is unlike outsourcing jobs don’t get shifted from one country to another, they simply seize to exist, and as cloud computing becomes more and more stable and easier to implement I believe this trend is going to increase.

Generally as any industry gets more and more stable,  less workers are needed to operate it, I believe that infrastructure and Data Center operations reached that point, Its becoming stable enough to automate its management. Luckily being in Application support, and given how unstable some of Oracle applications are (Siebel/FMW) I’m on the safe side, For as long as people are using one of these notoriously hard to operate Oracle products I’ll be needed, cloud or not operating it is just hard, as a matter of fact hosting it over cloud based systems may require additional work to maintain their stability. My job is safe as long as Oracle doesn’t drastically improve their products stability within the next few years, as for the increase in unemployed highly skilled operations engineers, I don’t really have to worry about that since Application Support is more of an art rather than a skill you can learn, in other words, its really hard to become an application support engineer, and when it comes to getting hired it all comes down to your experience and the projects you worked on.

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