Gareth Jane, Microsoft SAGareth Jane, Microsoft SA

Local studies show that cloud computing will have a positive impact on jobs and training in SA, according to Gareth Jane, Windows Azure platform strategy advisor at Microsoft SA.

“IT professionals have feared that jobs are going to be lost, but research shows us quite the contrary,” said Jane, speaking at ITWeb’s Cloud Computing Summit, in Johannesburg.

An study shows that, worldwide, cloud computing is expected to bring about an increase in jobs, with a few exceptions. “In the US, there is going to be a slight loss in jobs related to cloud computing, but in most other countries, we see a dramatic increase in the IT skills that will be required,” he noted.

South Africa is expected to see a 135% increase in IT skills demand related to cloud computing, said Jane. “This will not be the same across all industries,” he added. “There are dramatic differences across industries. The impact of cloud on industries like manufacturing will be low, but in more innovative industries, such as media, the impact and requirement of skills will be much higher.”

The increase in demand for skills extends beyond direct employment, emphasised Jane. An increase in jobs created by software development will have a knock-on effect, increasing both indirect and induced employment.

“For example, a software company that starts up will not only need IT professionals, but also graphics and design skills as well as marketing people to get the software off the ground. This is an increase in indirect employment,” he explained. “Then, if a software company opens up, the restaurants and garages around the business are going to be positively impacted – this is induced employment.

In SA in particular, cloud is expected to have a multifaceted impact on business, said Jane. While the increased productivity permitted by cloud-related efficiency and services will affect businesses of all sizes, small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be especially boosted by the increased competitiveness brought about by cloud.


Kenny Inggs, CTO and co-founder of 22seven, also spoke at the summit and reiterated that cloud computing is changing the way we do business.

Kenny Inggs, 22sevenKenny Inggs, 22seven

He says the possibilities for new business models remain one of the most important drivers of cloud uptake. “This is the bit that got me, personally, over the initial hurdle of going into the cloud: it enables ideas and thinking of new businesses that we couldn’t build before.

“In the cloud, you can make everything you do an operational expense, a marginal expense. What that means is that you can structure your model around that to start recuperating the expenses at the right time,” he added.

Economies of scale are another important driver, he noted. Cloud’s operational expense model, along with scalability and low costs, opens up options previously unavailable to those on tight budgets. “We can get access to computing power at a scale that we just haven’t dreamt of before. We can run solutions in the cloud that are scalable and robust, for about the same cost as our electricity.”

While the benefits of scalability are usually spoken about in terms of being able to scale up when necessary, the ability to scale down is important too, observed Inggs. “We often talk about scale as having another hundred servers ready to go, but it’s almost as nice to be able to scale down; to say, ‘hey, I don’t really need this anymore’, and to optimise. For example, over the weekend, when there’s very little traffic, bump it down to two servers. During the week, bump it up to 30 again, and only pay for what you need.”

While the benefits of cloud are manifold, he said, it’s important to remember the cloud both gives and removes control in different areas.

Despite its shortcomings, the cloud is becoming less of a trend, and more just the way things are done, he concluded.