24 Nov What cloud computing means to your job
Technology has been accused of making many a job disappear, like the production line or the accounting office. And it is not done yet.
A company often resembles its communication and technology system. In the era of cloud computing that the tech industry is moving into, that seems to suggest that companies will have smaller departments, quickly analyzing data and endlessly experimenting.
That means change is on the way at the many companies that will adopt cloud computing over the next few years. Middle managers: This is not good news for you.
“Technology shapes styles of work,” said Ed Lazowska, who holds a chair in computer science and engineering at the University of Washington. “One critical advantage of the cloud is that sharing becomes dramatically easier.” He foresees more collaboration and outsourcing of work, and more specialization into whatever a worker, team or company does well.
A corporate organizational chart from 100 years ago looks like a factory, with little workers at the base like parts, assembled by managers into units that interact with or fit into larger parts. Layers of white-collar jobs died in the “corporate re-engineering” boom 20 years ago, after email and networking replaced middle managers carrying plans among departments.
Outsourcing and off-shoring happened once the dot-com bubble put lots of fiber optic cable under the ocean. Otherwise, you couldn’t have so many call centers in India, or manage a global supply chain.
In cloud computing, computer servers are pooled through management software. Power is dialed up or down depending on the workload, and the system is continually reconfigured, based on data about the next workload. To see how this changes a workplace, look at the structure of the biggest cloud companies around.
“You learn to harness feedback,” said David Campbell, the head of engineering at Microsoft Azure, the name of Microsoft’s cloud. Early on, this means lots of “A/B testing,” or putting up two versions of a website to quickly see which the customers prefer.