Weekly Word on the Street: Cloud Computing Expertise in Demand

by Jim Staats | Oct 14, 2011

Take-away of the week is a weather report: More clouds are forming on the horizon in the world of IT services. Organizations big and small are having to adapt as will the technicians of today and tomorrow.

Survey: IT as a Service Gaining Headwind

Based on findings of a recent survey by F5 Networks, the enterprise trend toward IT services on demand, in the cloud, ITaaS or catchy name of your choosing, will continue to get a stranglehold on the industry in the next few years.

Nearly 75 percent of respondents, a group made up of 538 enterprise IT professionals, estimated that the shift to IT as a service (ITaaS) will take place in the coming three to five years, according to survey findings reported by Channel Insider. At least two-thirds of those surveyed have either implemented or are in the process of implementing infrastructure as a service already, according to the survey.

What exactly this means for industry hiring trends in the coming years is not stated explicitly, but with stakeholders being able to select and self-provide IT services on demand, the writing is on the wall. Organizations are having to do more with less, and more flexible service options are ones that depend on less resources. IT pros with cloud computing expertise are going to be more in demand, especially as deployment continues to build.

“ITaaS is a promising option for many enterprises, given the range of demands placed on data centers, which traditionally aren’t flexible enough to adapt to the requirements of today’s applications,” said Karl Triebes, CTO and senior vice president of product development at F5 Networks, itself an IT infrastructure vendor.

Schalk Theron, CIO at cloud content management firm SpringCM, said today’s typical user wants “to obtain a service without having to call and ask someone for it. ITaaS is doing just that.”

Geek Squad Galore: Best Buy Bumps up Hiring

Best Buy hopes to bounce back from lagging sales this year with a healthy increase in its IT staff across the board in coming weeks.

The Minneapolis-based retailing giant wants to reposition itself as a tech leader by recruiting more than 200 skilled IT professionals in e-commerce, business analytics, application development, engineering and project management, according to a recent report in RetailingToday.com.

About half of the new positions are expected to be posted in the next several weeks, officials said. Best Buy recommends CompTIA A+ certification for its Geek Squad computer technicians.

“Bringing in the best and brightest IT talent will help us to achieve our ongoing goals of providing a unique and engaging customer experience - whether in-store, online or across our mobile platforms - and creating a work environment for employees that encourages collaboration and sparks innovation,” said Jody Davids, the firm’s CIO and SVP of global business services.

NASA CTO: IT Help Desks are a Vanishing Breed

Hopefully, attendees at Computerworld’s SNW conference this week in Orlando weren’t a bevy of old-school help desk technicians seeking positive reinforcement on future prospects because the keynote speaker offered little for those seeking status quo.

Tom Soderstrom, CTO at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, informed folks that as more enterprises such as NASA shift their massive chunks of data to public and private clouds for full mobile agility, IT help desks as their known today soon will be a thing of the past.

“Now the workforce and consumers of IT are becoming mobile,” said Soderstrom, whose agency has overseen the launch of 30 spacecraft. “Have you ever called a help desk for your mobile device? What do you do? Probably, the first (thing) you do is Google or Bing it. If you can’t get the answer there, you ask your kids. If you can’t get your answer there, you ask your friends who are like you. For us, that’s the workgroup.”

Soderstrom said with employees using their personal iPhones, Androids and tablets, paying for a 24/7 help desk operation was no longer a necessity.

He suggested that today’s IT help desk workers need to rethink how they approach application development and security for an industry trending toward mobile apps and cloud computing. Soderstrom said it’s been three long years overhauling a change in culture for his own agency as NASA slowly warmed to more of a cloud model and ensuing security adjustments.

Opportunity is out there, he noted, for IT professionals with mobile applications and business intelligence tools that can sift through a veritable data ‘haystack’ of massive proportion to locate the relevant ‘needle’ of information. Today’s statistical analysts will be tomorrow’s most valuable assets, Soderstrom said.

Survey: Nearshoring the New Outsourcing?

Findings from a new survey of IT outsourcing providers indicate there’s less of a rush to establish satellite offices in faraway India as more service providers try to keep operations close to clients.

The outsourcing survey, conducted by Duke University’s Center for International Business Education and Research, shows a decline in savings achieved by sending IT offshore - mainly India - for the past five years, according to a report in CIO.com.

Meanwhile, as Indian providers struggle, the study reveals a groundswell of ‘nearshoring’ in which service providers actually move their operations closer to their clients.

“Access to new markets; integration with growth strategy; and diversifying their ability to coordinate multiple providers, geographies and functions (have all) become very important,” said Arie Lewin, the center’s director and a professor of strategy and international business.

Not surprisingly, when respondents were asked for key factors in attracting new outsourcing clients, workforce skills and training (63 percent), depth of industry knowledge (56 percent) and customer service (46 percent) were a runaway top three.

The sixth annual survey involved 620 service providers from 50 countries.

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