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Expect to see new categories of jobs arising from cloud computing, as well as new breeds of IT vendors.

The rise of cloud computing in firms of all shapes and sizes means faster and broader access to computing resources. But it also means changes in job descriptions, and a need for vendors and enterprises alike to reconsider the type of working relationships they have.

These are the conclusions of a new study of 500 IT and business professionals and 400 IT firms just released by CompTIA, the IT vendor industry association. This is the association’s third annual study of cloud patterns.

More than three out of five companies report they are adding new types of skillsets to their IT departments to keep up with growing cloud requirements. Skills now in demand include private cloud developers and administrators, departmental liaisons, integration specialists, cloud architects, and compliance specialists, the report states. Expertise in these areas is also being sought from IT vendors and consultants, the CompTIA study finds.

In addition, three fourths of the IT service suppliers in the study say they are seeking to beef up their vendor-neutral credentials showcasing knowledge and expertise in cloud computing.

Types of Skills/Roles Companies Have Added to IT Departments

Skills to build private clouds -69%
Departmental liaisons -64%
Integration specialists -63%
Cloud architect -61%
Compliance Specialist -44%

Source: CompTIA

At the same time, end-user companies affirm that the rise of cloud is generally having a positive effect on IT employment. While some CompTIA’s data also reflects that the net effect on IT jobs tends to be positive overall. For the second year, “reductions in IT headcount” was one of the least popular reasons that companies chose as a motivation to move to the cloud. Only 20% of businesses indicated that they had reduced IT headcount as a result of a cloud transition. In contrast, 32% indicated that they had done some restructuring of the IT department, and nearly half of those companies had built new roles related to cloud computing, such as workers skilled in building private clouds or departmental liaisons who understand the needs of various lines of business.

IT managers are taking action to build these new skills, the study confirms. Two -thirds of companies in the survey who reported undergoing an IT department restructuring also reported that their IT staff had taken training to build new skills. “This training may often be initiated by the employees,” the study states.

At the same time, the IT department is undergoing a major transformation — from coding and monitoring to more of a consulting role. IT managers are being called upon to work with the business on designing go-to-market strategy, and identifying technology resources that will help the strategy materialize in the fastest and most efficient way possible. “While this may start with simply purchasing new tools for monitoring cloud environments,” CompTIA notes, “ultimately the new roles that are being created are leading to a new function, where the IT team is more tightly integrated with lines of business and understands business strategy as a primary objective, then uses technology to achieve that objective.”

Outside players will also have a role to play in moving organizations to cloud. Currently, about 21% of enterprises have contracted with a third party for cloud transitions, CompTIA notes — a 23% each, large companies and medium-sized companies were the most likely to have contracted with an outside firm. In contrast, only 11% of micro firms and 19% of small firms have worked with an outside company. “These are the firms that would have the greatest need since they lack internal expertise, but they are also the firms that may not have experimented with cloud solutions beyond simple applications,” the study concludes. “As these firms explore more advanced uses of cloud computing, the demand for cloud services from solution providers will rise.”

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