Thursday, February 23, 2012

Entering the Cloud

Day 1 of Cloudscape IV. After some technical difficulties, blogging for GridCast is now properly set up.

One key theme that came up through the morning session until the coffee break is the fundamental changes that will inevitably hit the "tin operators" (D. Wallom), i.e. those that operate the bare metal hardware. "Operating tin" will become a low-skill job as hardware provisioning will become commodity, just as building PCs out of components is a commodity these days.

What will happen to those people? Who will train them to new challenges? What is the impact on IT staff and data center operators that we Cloud disciples are asking to "empty their data centers and buy that services from elsewhere" (A. Powell)

These are the key questions on the social-economic aspects on Cloud computing that have to be tackled. However, change does not only happen to technology, change has to happen in IT personnel mindsets, too.


andypowe11 said...

Re: David's point about 'low skill' activities, I think we have to be careful with our words here. Just because electricity is a commodity, doesn't mean that running the electricity grid is a low skill activity... far from it. It just means that you and I don't have to become skilled in running an electricity generator. So skills will transfer... in one direction towards the commodity providers and in the other towards other skill-sets in the PaaS or SaaS or service management layers.

Simon Leinen said...

Unfortunately I haven't been there, so I don't know what David actually said... but Andy's remark resonates with me. "Operating tin" has been elevated to an exciting discipline (again) by folks such as Amazon and Google, who do so at unprecedented scale. On the other hand, one should hope that many part-time "tin operators" for whom this is merely a burden where they cannot add much value, will be relieved from this and have more time available for other - hopefully more productive/customer-oriented - tasks. That is the official cloud mantra so beware the marketing; but I think it has some merit.

Anonymous said...

Andy, you're right. The bottom line, however, remains true: people's skill-set will change - has got to change. People who were proficient in running the electricity generator will have to look for something else since running the electricity generator is no longer a required human skill!

Anonymous said...

@Simon - I am sure we three do agree on the topic. When you (your company) decides to do "tin operating" business then this had better be done at scale and professionally. But it is important to not confuse "tin operating" as a a business model and tin operating as a human's task and individual skill.
In academia we frequently do see part-time "tinops", and University IT departments that happen to be human tin operators - see Andy's comment on having to start looking at universities as enterprises.