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                                                                            NOVEMBER 2010

                                                    T E X A S S T AT E T E C H N I C A L C O L L E G E • F O R E C A S T I N G

      CLOUD                                                 T     he exact definition of cloud
                                                                  computing varies. Some industry
                                                                                                               that, in real time over the Internet, extends
                                                                                                               IT’s existing capabilities.”1. This notion of IT

                                                        stalwarts even criticize the use of the term as        resources as a service or utility rather than a
                                                        unnecessary marketing hype. Traditionally,             capital expenditure sets cloud computing
                                                        computer services like email, file services, and       apart from more established terms like
         BY DR. CAROLYN ROARK                           web hosting each run on a dedicated server.            clusters or distributed computing.
                                                        This is expensive and inefficient because                  Cloud computing has it roots in
     MICHAEL BETTERSWORTH                               it requires maintaining separate hardware              technologies and practices developed for
      Texas State Technical College                     installations and does not allow computer              datacenters like those that power familiar
                                                        resources to be shared between applications.           services such as Google, Yahoo, YouTube, and
                                                        By distributing applications across a number           Amazon. These all run in large distributed
                                                        of servers, computer hardware resources can            datacenters that enable fast and easy access
    Cloud computing refers to the                       be shared dynamically as required by each              through Internet browsers or, increasingly,
increasingly        common       practice      of       service. Put simply, cloud computing enables           mobile devices. Behind the scene are racks
using virtualization to deliver scalable                more flexible and cost effective access to IT          of servers running various operating systems,
information computer services. The                      resources.                                             middleware, and applications connected
popularity of this business practice is                     A recent InfoWorld article summarizes              through networks of switches and load
generating new demand for technical                     that cloud computing is “a way to increase             balancers. These are, in turn, protected by
competencies         across         a     number        capacity or add capabilities on the fly without        firewalls and VPNs. All require significant
of existing occupations including:
                                                        investing in new infrastructure, training new          amounts of air conditioning to keep cool and
systems and network administrators,
                                                        personnel, or licensing new software” and              electricity that must be carefully managed to
software developers, and information
                                                        that “cloud computing encompasses any                  ensure systems are up and running smoothly.
architects.      The        distributed      and
                                                        subscription-based or pay-per-use service              CONTINUED ON PG. 2
customer-focused nature of these
services requires employees with
strong     communication,               teamwork,
and analytical skills as well as an
understanding          of     the        business
implications of technical decisions.
College IT programs should update
curriculum       modules        to        prepare
students      for    administering          cloud
services in datacenter operations
as well as software development
within virtualized environments. IT
professionals currently unemployed
or displaced will benefit from additional
certifications         in       virtualization
and other relevant competencies
discussed in this issue. ■                                     Traditional Topology                                              Cloud Topology

                          This scene is repeated throughout the world        quickly, and demand for skills to enable that growth
                          in massive interconnected datacenters over         is climbing as a result. If you have skills related to
                          redundant fiber backbones. Cloud computing         IT operations, application administration and
                          enables customers to tap into these resources      operations, or software development, now may
                          and only pay for what they use, rather than        be the time to dive into the cloud.”3 A search of
                          shouldering the expense of a dedicated             Monster.com produced over 200 job openings
                          datacenter.                                        in Texas that include cloud-based skills in the
                             Private clouds are hosted within an             required responsibilities. San Antonio-based
                          enterprise and offer greater control with          data hosting and cloud computing provider
                          associated infrastructure costs. Public clouds     RackSpace lists 148 Texas job postings alone

   “The bottom line       are owned and operated by third parties and
                          provide increased scalability and flexibility
                                                                             at the time of this analysis. Like many other
                                                                             emerging technologies we have studied in the
 is that IT use of the    without upfront capital expenditures. More         past, this innovation drives new competencies
                          recently, hybrid cloud computing services          within existing occupational categories.
     cloud is growing     integrate both customer-owned and third            Target occupations include traditional IT
    very quickly, and     party infrastructures.                             titles such as network administrators, systems
    demand for skills                                                        administrators, database administrators,
                                                                             and customer support technicians as well as
        to enable that                                                       information architects, solutions architects,
  growth is climbing                                                         and business analysts. There are also a number
                                                                             of new sales and marketing and management
    as a result. If you                                                      positions posted for cloud-related services.
   have skills related                                                       The resulting productivity gains realized
                                                                             by cloud computing also reduce IT staffing
     to IT operations,        The growing importance of cloud                needs in some instances.
           application    computing is evidenced in the recent bidding            Employability requires both deep
      administration/     war between Dell and HP for control over           technical expertise as well as strong analytical
                          utility storage company 3Par. This company’s       and communication skills. As we have seen
           operations,    expansion from predominately data storage          in previous tech brief topics, the convergence
          or software     into cloud computing, utility computing,           of various technologies is driving demand
                          and virtualization made it an attractive           for technical expertise across multiple fields
  development, now        acquisition for quick entry into the cloud         and with a big picture view of how systems
  may be the time to      computing market. Gartner estimates the            work together in order to troubleshoot and

dive into the cloud.”
                          2009 market for cloud services at $46.4            anticipate issues. Cloud computing jobs
                          billion and forecasts a 224% increase to           require employees with strong teamwork and
                          $150.1 billion by 2013.2 There is some             communication skills who can collaborate
                          debate about the exact size of the market due      with peers and work directly with customers.
        James Urquart,    to varying definitions. Regardless, it is clear    Myopic technicians and, conversely,
                Cisco     that cloud computing is growing rapidly as         managers lacking technical expertise need not
                          a subsector of information technology. More        apply. College programs should address these
                          importantly for our readership, this growth is     competency requirements through project-
                          generating new job demand and marketable           based learning and interdisciplinary teams
                          competencies worthy of attention by college        that mimic the realities of today’s 21st century
                          administrators and faculty.                        workplace.

                             Cloud computing commentator James
                                                                                An analysis of current job postings by
                          Urquart of Cisco Systems states, “The bottom       Simply Hired places the average salary for
                          line is that IT use of the cloud is growing very   cloud computing jobs in Texas at $98,0004.


       Network and Computer Systems Administrators                          $67,642
       Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts                     $76,419
       Computer Specialists                                                 $77,022
       Computer Support Specialists                                         $47,341
       Database Administrators                                              47,341

                                                        Source: Texas Workforce Commission

Salaries will vary by company and based on         A10, Cisco); VPN and firewall configuration;
location, industry, certifications, and years of   monitoring tools like SolarWinds; knowledge        Virtualization is
previous experience. Traditional labor market      of TCP/IP ports and services; and other more
data does not include a job classification         specialized knowledge based on the employer’s      the core enabling
specifically for cloud computing; however,         infrastructure. Network administrators must
the table above provides LMI data for cloud-       also have basic understanding of the same
                                                                                                      technology of
related IT occupations.                            competencies as system administrators.             cloud-bases
                                                       Virtualization is the core enabling
    The exact competency mix for cloud
                                                   technology of cloud-based services. Put
                                                   simply, virtualization enables applications,
                                                   platforms, operating systems, and hardware to
computing varies by company and the specific       run independently of one another. VMware
target occupation. Employer interviews and         is the current market leader in virtualization.
job postings indicate a strong need for system     Microsoft’s competing platform is Hyper-V.
administrators with a preference for the           Xen is a popular open source option. Citrix is
Linux operating system as well as Microsoft,       a leader in desktop virtualization. Given the
Unix, and Solaris. Technical competencies          increasingly pervasive nature of virtualization,
include: deep knowledge of associated file         it is clear that some aspect of virtualization
systems and partitioning; kernel settings and      should now be a de facto component of
working at the command line; web services          any information technology curriculum. A
like Apache; email fundamentals (SMTP,             useful summary of over 100 virtualization
POP, IMAP) and related services; databases         vendors can be found at www.virtualization.
like MySQL; security and encryption                info. In some cases, cloud providers provide
technologies including SSL and public/             web frontends that enable clients to scale up
private key management; authentication             and down various services as needed and at
and directory services such as LDAP/Active         various price levels, effectively automating
Directory; as well as scripting (php, perl,        the backend virtualization process.
python) and basic HTML for developing                  Because Texas is home to a large number
and debugging web applications. System             of datacenters, there is also a unique
administrators must also have fundamental          demand for hardware specialists. Texas
knowledge of networking.                           State Technical College’s high performance
    Network administrators require advanced        computing (HPC) program was developed
knowledge, including: configuration of             to specifically target staffing needs for large
switches, routers, concentrators, and the use      datacenter environments. According to
of associated management tools; DNS and            department chair Walton Yantis, hardware
zoning; IPSEC and IPv6; routing tables, traffic    specialists must have competencies in
management, and load balancing (Zeus, F5,          electrical wiring, electrical maintenance and

repair, power management, refrigeration and         is hosted elsewhere or is merely invoked as
other specialized training required to operate      needed as an Internet service. Skills such as
large computer installations—the functional         contract management, the creation of service
backend of cloud computing.                         level agreements, and security management
    In addition to these technical competencies,    change as the portfolio changes.”6 The IT
job postings and employers clearly underscore       Infrastructure Library (ITIL) certification
the need for 21st century skills, including:        addresses many of these competencies and
the ability to resolving complex customer           was mentioned in a handful of job postings
issues; conduct creative problem-solving            reviewed for this brief.
to identify the source of problems; listen to          Tech blogger and Blue Mountain Labs
the needs of customers and clearly anticipate       founder David Linthicum suggests that cloud
and communicate possible issues; work               computing is actively transforming systems
closely with others as part of a team; advise       administration as a career. Says Linthicum:
on potential pitfalls that a customer may           “We’ll morph into system managers, not
experience; and suggest alternatives that may       system operators. Thus, we can focus on the
better serve the stability and security of the      business, not replacing failed storage servers,
customer’s solution.                                or swapping out power supplies. Moreover,
                                                    we’ll be much better at leveraging existing

EMPLOYER                                            services, thus we’ll again be more focused on
                                                    the business functionality, and not as much

                                                    the technology.”7 Systems architect Frédéric
                                                    Faure writes, “The systems administrator’s         Cloud computing
    Jay Bathershell, managing principal             craft is therefore evolving between a physical     is actively
of ClearView, a Dallas based company                infrastructure and an Amazon Web Services-
with a network of data centers, says their          type Cloud infrastructure: he is becoming          transforming
organization requires employees with                more and more of a developer.” Faure goes
multiple specializations, including network         on to caution that cloud services will not
technicians, systems administration at              replace systems administrators for most            administration
                                                    organizations, but will likely change the
various levels, all the way up to information
                                                    roles they play.8
                                                                                                       as a career.
architects or infrastructure architects.5
ClearView looks for employees who can                  Looney and Bathershell see a major
do more than support servers and other              logistical change on the horizon, driven by
hardware; they look for project managers            technologies like cloud computing. Says
capable of big picture thinking, people             Bathershell, “As I look in to the future, more
who can understand and communicate the              and more I see the concept of the virtual
impact of implementing various technology           worker, being able to work anywhere at
strategies. He recommends an understanding          any time. Being able to work with different
of business analysis as well as technical           countries, and to work remotely.” Looney
mastery. In other words, these are not your         offers an example from their own field in the
average “rack and stack” technicians.               area of server management; until now one
    Bathershell is not alone in seeing a need for   administrator could manage a maximum 20
interdisciplinary knowledge in the growing          to 25 servers in most cases. He says, “With the
virtual marketplace. According to Educause,         advent of virtualization, that is going north of
future growth in cloud computing will have          75 maybe one to 100. You are reducing your
extended implications for professionals             headcount. That person may be paid more,
across multiple disciplines: “IT professionals,     but it will be less people than before.” Both
business professions, lawyers, auditors,            recommend that educational institutions add
and others will need new skills to manage           exercises in remote computing services, as
an infrastructure and service portfolio that        well as collaboration in virtual teams.

                                       GROWING PAINS
                                                                                             Offer fast track options. Colleges should

                                                                                         consider offering compressed workshops,
                                           As with any new innovation, there are         boot camps, and other “fast track” style
                                       some challenges facing cloud computing            training leading to technical skills mastery

      Smart phones and mobile
                                       worthy of consideration. For Frank
                                       Dzubeck, an industry commentator for
                                                                                         and industry certifications when applicable.
                                                                                         Current IT professionals, including workers
                                                                                         displaced by recent economic trends, will
                                       NetworkWorld.com, these boil down to
apps are now fully integrated
                                       five key questions that must be answered.9        find these training options an invaluable
into our daily lives. There are                                                          means of keeping skills up to date. A number
                                       Security—data theft has become a lucrative
apps     for   social    networking,                                                     of companies have created cloud computing
                                       criminal activity, and cloud servers often
discovering a new place to
                                       store sensitive information that must be          training seminars; for example, platform
eat, checking a bank balance,
                                       carefully protected. Performance—service          management company RightScale hosts
getting    directions,    and—the
                                       level agreements must account for availability,   regular webinars and archive previous sessions
most popular—playing games.
                                       legal, budget and insurance requirements          on their websites, and Stratos Learning
Consumers               increasingly
                                       depending on clients’ unique requirements.        both introductory courses and specialized
expect companies to enable
                                       Management—interoperability            among      training.11 Prof. Brad Armosky, of UT-
easy and convenient access
to their services through a            various internally and externally hosted cloud    Austin’s Texas Advanced Computing Center,
mobile     device.      Even   local   services introduces new complexity that must      recommends free, online systems such as
governments and schools are            be considered to minimize inefficiencies.         HPC University, CI Tutor, and MIT Open
launching apps of their own.           Vendor lock-in is also an issue in some cases.    Courseware.
In our next TechBrief we look          Governance and Regulatory Compliance—a
at mobile applications, explain        large portion of the information traveling
the differences between native
                                       through the cloud is subject to regional
apps and mobile web apps,
                                       and national governance and differences
and    make     recommendations
                                       in standards and oversight can make data
on steps colleges should take
                                       storage and transfer a complicated prospect,
to ensure their graduates have
an advantage in this growing
                                       especially when multiple nations are involved.
industry sector.                       And finally, Financial—Dzubeck points out
                                       that organizations may need to consider how

SUGGEST A                              to classify cloud computing costs as variable
                                       or fixed IT cost.
                                           Despite these growing pains, as a

Do you have a technology or
                                       recent Infoworld article states, “among big
                                       metatrends, cloud computing is the hardest
                                       one to argue with in the long term.”10
occupation you would like TSTC
Forecasting to consider research-

ing? Submit your topic online at
www.forecasting.tstc.edu .

                                       FOR COLLEGES
                                          Update existing IT programs. Colleges
                                       can best respond to the emergence of cloud
                                       computing with modifications to existing IT
                                       programs in systems administration, network
                                       administration, network security, software
                                       development, and information architecture
                                       with particular emphasis on virtualization
                                       fundamentals and certification.

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                                                       Texas State Technical College                                                                       Waco, TX
     Texas     State   Technical College
                                                       3801 Campus Drive
Forecasting is charged with identifying                Waco, Texas 76705
emerging technology trends, evaluating
potential workforce implications, and                  RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED
providing Texas colleges analysis of
potential new training opportunities.
Our mission is to strengthen the
competitiveness of Texas by ensuring
employers have a highly skilled workforce.
Visit us online at www.forecasting.tstc.edu
for the latest forecasts and to submit your
comments and research topic suggestions.

                Michael Bettersworth
                 Associate Vice Chancellor,
                  Technology Advancement
             Texas State Technical College

                                                        Vist us online at www.forecasting.tstc.edu

   Eric Knorr and Galen Gruman, “What cloud computing really means: The next            June 2010): 33-43.
 big trend sounds nebulous, but it’s not so fuzzy when you view the value proposition   7
                                                                                            David Linthicum, E-mail interview, July 22, 2010
 from the perspective of IT professionals.” http://www.infoworld.com/d/cloud-com-
 puting/what-cloud-computing-really-means-031.                                          8
                                                                                         FrédéricFaure, “Cloud AWS Infrastructure vs. Physical Infrastructure”. Highscal-
   Ben Pring, Robert H. Brown, Andrew Frank, Simon Hayward, and Lydia Leong
 ,“Forecast: sizing the cloud; understanding the opportunities in cloud services.”      http://highscalability.com/blog/2010/7/8/cloud-aws-infrastructure-vs-physical-
 (Gartner 2009). http://www.gartner.com/DisplayDocument?id=914826                       infrastructure.html
  James Urquhart, “Exploring a healthy cloud-computing job market.” http://news.        9
                                                                                         FrankDzubeck, “Five Cloud Computing Questions.” Network World.com http://
 cnet.com/8301-19413_3-20015267-240.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=TheWisdo                www.networkworld.com/columnists/2008/080508-dzubeck.html, par. 11-12.
 mofClouds                                                                              10
                                                                                          Todd R. Weiss, “Big Guns for Hire: supercomputing in the Cloud.” Computer-
   Simply Hired. Retrieved from http://www.simplyhired.com/a/salary/search/q-           wrld.com, http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9178932/Big_guns_for_hire_
 cloud+computing/l-texas                                                                Supercomputing_in_the_cloud_?taxonomyId=159&pageNumber=1.
     Jay Bathershell and Jay Looney, phone interview with the authors, Sept. 2, 2010    11
                                                                                          Rights Scale. “News and Events” http://www.rightscale.com/news_events/events.
     Richard N. Katz, “Looking at Clouds from All Sides Now.” Educause Review. (May/

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