Mind the gap: Does cloud widen the digital skills divide?
How will cloud change the job you do and the skills you need? Or will things simply continue as they are now?
Some say the cloud changes nothing. That it's simply a new moniker, or re-branding even, for what we've always done. That it's simply old IT repackaged for the modern age. Others argue that the emergence of cloud computing as a viable model for the delivery and consumption of IT services changes everything.
Regardless of your viewpoint as to the impact cloud has/will have and level of change it represents, one thing is clear: It will alter the way in which we do our jobs as both end users and IT workers.
A whole new world
From an employee's point of view, the way in which we work in the future will undoubtedly be shaped by future technologies, cloud included. There is widespread debate about what the office of 2020 will look like and many believe that the current habitual pattern of commuting to a 9-5 office job based in the city will soon become extinct.
"There will be a lot more connected devices in the home and office giving us data about everything. Everything will be connected wirelessly and you will have access to your information on whatever device you chose requiring a lot less fat client software and more browser based access. Ubiquitous access to information will be the norm," says Ben Haines, vice president of IT and CIO at cloud storage and collaboration firm Box.
"I see things getting better as we remove barriers to adoption and increase speed of delivery at a lower cost. We will not be talking about transforming Frankenstein traditional on-premise software as everything will be born in the cloud with cloud DNA. There will not be a discussion about cloud vs on premise as it will just be how things are done. Mobility will be the norm as well. We will see the hype around Big Data gone as people would have worked out how to integrate it into their daily work. People will still think that IT is dead and the CIO is not needed but the ones who made the transition will be more valuable than ever."
Should you be scared of the cloud?
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"From a customer perspective, the cloud is providing the flexibility for businesses to innovate at a much quicker pace," says Rob Coupland, UK managing director of TelecityGroup who was also recently appointed senior vice president for training and skills for the Data Centre Alliance.
"It's allowing them to be more creative by testing new services and delivering them quickly to market without having a major impact on the bottom line. The cloud is reducing the hurdle rate for innovation and enabling businesses to introduce new services, with greater speed and flexibility."