I’ve been asked more than once during interviews whether utility computing will ultimately cost IT jobs. With fewer physical assets to manage and with the ability to automate a great deal of the mundane labor intensive operations, the logic is there should be need for fewer system administrators. However, this is a rather poorly though out analysis.
Utility computing eliminates labor by substituting technology. At 3tera, we routinely find system administrators who run hundreds of systems. Even a thousand isn’t out of the question. Compare that with 20 to 30 in typical IT environments and the ROI become pretty obvious. So, what about the jobs?
Economics, and the history of technology, suggests that when we encounter a step function in cost overall usage increases by a greater multiple than the cost reduction. Of course, this assumes demand is elastic and I haven’t seen any indication that demand for computing overall has been satisfied. This is why minis, PCs and the Internet didn’t reduce the number of IT jobs. With each of these new innovations IT related projects got done quicker and more cost effectively. After a period of ajustment each caused a rapid increase in IT jobs associated with the new technology that dwarfed any losses of older job functions.
Accordingly, I find it odd to suggest that utility computing will eliminate IT jobs. Quite the contrary, I expect to see a rapid expansion of IT jobs as more users learn the advantages of utility computing.