For more than a year now it seems like all anyone talks about is the future of IT being in “the cloud”. Some long time IT pros and journalists have started noting how vendors like Microsoft are putting a lot more focus on developers and their cloud visions.

I first started hearing the rumblings from the IT pro community back as long ago as 2006-2007, in conjunction with the first serious wave of talk about Software as a Service (SaaS); this was before the concept morphed into “the cloud.” I remember Microsoft touting SaaS, even then, as the future of software, and I remember the pushback from the IT pro community. Their concern: In this vision of a world where companies don’t need an IT department, what happens to me and my job?Source

So what does this really mean for IT pros? And are you worried about the cloud taking away your job? Please vote in the poll below. If you have more to say please feel free to leave a comment as well.

[poll id=”7″]


About the Author

Paul Cunningham

Paul is a former Microsoft MVP for Office Apps and Services. He works as a consultant, writer, and trainer specializing in Office 365 and Exchange Server. Paul no longer writes for


  1. Chris Brown

    I think now is an appropriate time for me to jump in:

    I am an Exchange admin for a large org: ~3000 seats. I have just been asked (separate to my day job) to decommission a small organization’s SBS box as they’re moving to a hosted Exchange/Sharepoint solution. For full disclosure, I’m a friend of the owner of this company. That doesn’t change the fact that they’ve taken it upon themselves to move into the cloud and get rid of this (not overly) old server in the corner. I find it intriguing that they did not return to the original SBS admin to get this box removed, and have just had me log on to do it.

    I’m part-way through diagnosis and decommission now (three states away) and will be travelling there soon to rip the desktops off the domain, etc. This is now one less site for all the SMB techs out there, and I think “this cloud thing” is only going to catch on faster and faster.

    If I was a small business admin? I’d be *very* worried. If these guys don’t get on-board they’ll be left behind cleaning coffee out of keyboards and servicing RMAs.

    1. Avatar photo
      Paul Cunningham

      I look after a small SBS environment as well. They’re on SBS 2008 now and since then Microsoft released Windows 2008 R2 Foundation and Office 365. I’ve only glanced at the numbers but I think it is going to be cheaper to move to a solution along those lines for their next upgrade.

      1. Chris Brown

        Well yeah, these guys are in the process of getting their docs hosted as well – they want to go the methodology of “the office is the same as the home”. Doesn’t matter whether you’re on-site or not, you still have access to all the same stuff. I’m a big fan of this methodology myself.

      2. John H.

        I remember once interviewing for four different jobs for small and mid size businesses about five years ago that were looking to hire an IT person. In each case this person would be the only one managing IT for the company. I withdrew my application for three of the four that offered a second interview since I was extremely nervous about the fact that you would be the only person managing the IT resources, and I also kept thinking that much of this could and should be outsourced since there wasn’t that much in terms of infrastructure. In 2008 I was laid off from an IT position at a large company that went bankrupt, and since then I got a job at a lower position for a mid sized company. Since that time I, along with many of my colleagues, have noticed a trend in IT. There are very few opportunities now unless you are extremely specialized, and even then, you will not have secure employment for more than a few years at a time. This line of work has become extremely turbulent, and it will continue threatening jobs as cloud computing turns IT into the equivalent of a power utility in terms of it offering services to companies so that they don’t have to implement infrastructure. I am now trying to transition to something else since there will be few opportunities within 2-5 years, and during this time companies will be shedding IT personnel as more infrastructure is outsourced. I always advise people that want to enter this field to look elsewhere, and focus on areas that can’t be outsourced. This is the only way to protect yourself. Working for a cloud provider is not really an option either since they have small staffing levels when you consider how many resources and customers they service. IT jobs are going away at most places since they are not a core function of the business.

  2. Steve Goodman

    Personally, I think the Cloud (or a move to hosted services) is only a threat if you don’t embrace it. Working in IT shouldn’t be about spending time keeping the lights on and instead working on helping the business (or the businesses you support) solve problems.

    I agree there could be an issue for partners or small IT shops supporting the SMB market, especially if they are stuck in their ways and don’t want to change their methods – if they don’t change another company will come along and attract their customers with Cloud-based offerings. Forward thinking IT providers should be able to see the opportunity though, for example by reselling services like Office 365 they could potentially serve more small business customers with the same head count andd add value elsewhere, too.

    At my organisation we’re already starting to see a trend with internal customers comparing our services to external “Cloud” offerings (or hosted offerings) and to be honest, I find it fun to compete. In general, it’s a motivator to drive down internal costs and modernise the way we deliver services.

    With regards to Exchange though, I wrote a little more a while back about my thoughts about how Office 365 in particular will affect the market and in particular how I think it will affect jobs over on my blog:

  3. Anthony Spiteri

    I think that general onsite/mobile/SMB techs should be worried…there will be a time shortly when all there will be onsite to look after will be desktops (maybe even not) and local file/AD.

    My job is secure because I am in the hosting game…so maybe I am the enemy?

    Yesterday at a seminar I was at, MS was projecting the partner hosted space (hosted Exchange, VM’s, SharePoint etc) to grow 40-40% over the next 12-24 months…even more so than the public cloud offerings like BPOS, Office 365.

    1. Avatar photo
      Paul Cunningham

      Does the hosting game significantly raise the bar in terms of how much skill is needed to work in those companies?

      1. Anthony Spiteri

        I actually believe is lowers skills. When I started out I had to understand how (take Exchange 2003 as an example that wasn’t multi-tentant out of the box) to configure services for multi-tentant services which meant I had to get down and dirty with the backend of these systems and dive into configs, and settings techs wouldn’t even begin to know or understand today.

        I teach my support/L2 techs on the basics and how to configure services (through Control Panels we configure and deploy) and try to give them basic understanding…but the tendancy is to take the easy way and blame the hosted setup when 99/100 no basic troubleshooting has been done…so are we producing lazy techs? Some support/L2 techs won’t even try to resolve issues…Let me Google that for you I generally say 🙂

        MS is making it easy to deploy a multi-tenant environment these days, so you may well need less skill…however I don’t think younger techs will be able to break into the industry in the short term…those that are working in hosting companies are going to be entrenched for the med-long term.

        MS and others are basically warning off new hosting companies from starting because the ones are are in play at the moment have a massive advantage.

        MS also suggested that all the current SMB/Onsite might be looking for different work in 5-10 years….scary!

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