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The era of ICT - a cloud perspective

Thursday, 08 Sep 2016

Written by Richard Magalad, ACS Victoria Cloud Computing SIG committee member
Richard Magalad
"Many hands make light work" John Heywood Proverbs (1546)

One of my CIO friends mentioned 4-years ago that Jetstar, with $4B turnover, employed around 6 fulltime IT staff due to their significant use of the Cloud.  I'm not 100% sure if the head count was accurate or if it was another airline, it's still an interesting situation to have such a low-number of IT pros for a large company.  Even if they outsourced many IT tasks to the likes of IBM, Di Data, EDS, CSC, Tata, etc.; it still resonates an amazing low ratio.

Compare that to my first IT job in the early 90s, I was one of 2,000 IT staff supporting 8,000 non-IT employees.  In 2007 I saw within my own IT firm, each tech (including myself) managed an average of 100 desktops, laptops and servers.  In 2010 we migrated all our clients to the latest trend of hosted Exchange and we found 30% of our support calls disappeared overnight.

Some techs nowadays manage an average 300-400 (or more) desktops and servers, simply because we don't have to deal with annoying on-prem issues like power, cooling and patching.

This evolution in the ISTM segment of our industry changed my life.  Before 2010 my Sunday night ritual before going to bed involved checking the status of all critical servers, followed by words that my significant other hated; "Honey, email server problem, I have to go to work.  Don't wait up"

I still check my server dashboards every Sunday and casually say" "Honey, email server problem.  Zzz. Zzz."

Wake up Monday morning, check my dashboard and say "Honey, email server is back online"

I slept easy knowing that behind the scenes were hundreds of busy techs running around in data centres and NOCs trying to fix problems 24x7.  The major difference was it wasn't me fixing things.

"They took our jobs" South Park TV show episode Goodbacks (2004)

This controversial episode of South Park echoes the mindset and perception that Cloud is taking away jobs.

The hard-working techs I employed years ago are not unemployed today, in fact, they've move onto amazing jobs doing very cool things because bandwidth and Cloud makes it easier.  To say that the market will employ less techs due to Cloud is in my opinion, quite the opposite; our skills in networking, routing, and firewalls are especially crucial now more than ever.  Jump into your dashboard in AWS, Azure or vCloud and you will face the same technical challenges we saw only a few years ago on-prem, but today it's all managed on your browser.

Infrastructure techies like myself are doing more with less staff, but it amazes me today that I keep meeting people doings jobs that did not exist 5 years ago.  Cloud companies like Xero are employing code-cutters developing apps on smartphones platforms that also didn't exist 10 years ago.

Facebook and Uber employ thousands around the world; not as many employees as Ford or Mac Donald's, but when I'm hungry at midnight, I can order burgers & fries via my Facebook account, delivered by an Uber driver in a Ford.

I believe Darwin had the right idea about evolution, so I wonder if he lived today, would he see the same happening in the tech world, where the strong and agile rise to the top.  If he was alive, I'd invite him to our ACS Victoria Cloud Computing SIG (Circa 2016).