Momentum 2012: Cloud and automation no threat to IT jobs, claims EMC

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EMC has waded into the debate about how cloud, big data and the push towards automation will affect the jobs market, claiming IT pros have little to fear.

At the storage giant's Momentum user conference in Vienna, Austria, this week, the focus has been on the transformational impact cloud, big data and mobile are having on the way end users access IT.

These changes were touched on by Adrian McDonald, EMEA president of EMC, during yesterday's keynote presentation.

Our belief is that employment in the IT industry will still flourish and grow in the cloud.

"The pace of change both in society and IT is far quicker than it's ever been," said McDonald.

"In my 24 years at EMC, I've seen a number of generations of IT and significant transformations, but nothing as big as [what] we are currently seeing.

"This presents an opportunity and a threat...for business and IT."

Over the coming years, these changes will result in users "standardising on everything" in the cloud and the automation of IT processes at scale, he claimed.

"In cloud...people will standardise on scale, on chipsets, on applications and databases...and the automation of information will never be more important," said McDonald.

"The main benefits [will be] that the cost per unit of IT will go down dramatically and performance will go up...[and we will achieve] a degree of agility that has not been there before."

He was quick to stress these benefits will not come at the expense of jobs, but admitted the role IT workers play in their organisations is likely to change.

"People are concerned about these changes because they worry about their own jobs and employment, [but] it is our belief that employment in the IT industry will still flourish and grow," said McDonald.

"There will be more people [working] in IT in five to 10 years than there is today, but many of them will be doing different types of jobs."

As an example of this, McDonald cited the growing demand for data scientists as an area IT workers could move into.

During a post-keynote briefing with IT Pro, Christopher Preston, senior director of integrated technology strategy for the Information Intelligence Group at EMC, backed McDonald's view.

"We've gone beyond the hype cycle with big data now and people are seeing the raw potential and [appreciate] that it requires a new skill set," said Preston.

"The traditional business or data analyst who knows about business intelligence is not necessarily the right person to do it, so there are opportunities there."

Another relatively new job that has emerged is the role of the cloud architect, which could also open up opportunities for IT workers.

"Just a few years ago [that job role] was nowhere to be seen in the IT lexicon [because], at first, cloud was viewed as competitive, but now it's a core part of the IT infrastructure," he explained.

"So having architects and experts in how it all works and fits together is going to be of huge value to organisations."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.