This month I've visited both Oracle Open World as well as the SOA Symposium. The one hot item that links both conferences is ....... Cloud Computing. That seems to be the newest fad at the moment.
I had several discussions with advocates and opponents to this idea.I've been thinking about Cloud computing a lot. So here's what I think about it.
I'm an advocate of SOA, as you all know. According to Gartner, we're climbing away from the 'Trough of Disillusionment', meaning SOA is rapidly becoming more mature and mainstream. I agree. Already we see SOA being used with EDA and CEP, which is a good thing too. A logical next step would be Cloud Computing. I see Cloud Computing as the logical next step for 'location transparancy'. It's a combination of location transparancy and SaaS, I guess. There will come a time when a consumer of a service doesn't care where the service is hosted. He will care about who will host it. Companies will look for best-of-breed service producers.
It reminded me a bit of my own history. When I started out as a COBOL programmer in 1984, my first task was to maintain an existing financial system that was built within the company. That's (almost) unheard of these days. NOBODY builds his own financial systems anymore. There are very good, complete and transparant financial systems (and even services) available in the market. Everybody wins, in my opinion. The customer gets real value for less money, the provider earns more money by selling his services to more consumers. The catch: it needs to be very, very, very secure. A service provider needs to make sure that the data and the service is protected, without lowering the service level. One outtage, or one leak can mean the end of the provider.
A lot of companies will hold back. People want to 'see' where their money goes to. Having servers physically present, having a box with software makes them feel they got something for their money. Running software on a cloud doesn't give the same feeling. However, this will change. Companies will have to change. What if your competitor does his manufacturing using a cloud-based infrastructure for less than 30% of the costs, and you don't? You'll be out of business soon.
So yes, I think it's going to happen. It will take a long time, but it will definitely happen. Of course we will see different types of clouds (public vs corporate), but I think this is good news for smaller companies that can't hardly afford IT personnel, let alone a server park. But it's also good news for the best-of-breed service providers, with the additional effect that services will have to become better and better at the same time.
But, getting to the point of this blogpost, what does this mean for the 'average IT-guy'? I'm foreseeing a shift in our line of business. IT personnel within a company will focus on orchestrating and integrating services from different vendors, and maybe - just maybe - maintain one or two left-over applications that are very specific for the enterprise. Custom made software will become outdated. Consultancy firms will specialize in either business/process consultancy and/or data integration (including warehouses) because that's all that will be left.
Only the larger service providers will have lots of IT staff, as it's their core business. What will be your place in that future?