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IT Desktop Support To Be Wiped Out Thanks To Cloud Computing

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the who-needs-help dept.

Cloud 349

An anonymous reader writes "Tech industry experts are saying that desktop support jobs will be declining sharply thanks to cloud computing. Why is this happening? A large majority of companies and government agencies will rely on the cloud for more than half of their IT services by 2020, according to Gartner's 2011 CIO Agenda Survey."

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Survey? (5, Insightful)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164515)

The naivety into a fud survey disturbs me, not to mention the whole company dependence issue which could lead into a business trap backlash if one fails.

Cloud computing isn't going to kill anything.

Re:Survey? (4, Insightful)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164559)

To be fair, hype overload is killing brain cells.

Re:Survey? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164607)

agree. I run a service desk. Cloud computing doesn't eliminate the morons using computers. Cloud computing won't change a thing except provide new challengers to my tier 1 techs.

Re:Survey? (5, Interesting)

El Torico (732160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164881)

How many times will you hear, "The cloud is down!"?

Re:Survey? (4, Insightful)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164889)

Surprisingly often, if past incidents are anything to go by.

Re:Survey? (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164903)

Yep, and it will stop the entire company from working when it happens.

Managers will start to think that individual PCs will prevent that...and we'll begin the circle of computing all over again. Just like the last time.

Re:Survey? (2)

paiute (550198) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164913)

How many times will you hear, "The cloud is down!"?

Which reminds me - I really haven't heard the kind of marketing/meme support for this new cloud thing. I mean startup named Cumulonimbus or Translucidus or bending to the new task old metaphors like silver linings, etc.

Re:Survey? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164929)

How many times will you hear, "The cloud is down!"?

Do you not read any tech news at all?

There has been current and major failures with all the cloud services. Microsoft's most recently, and it was for more than a few minutes.

Are you confusing the "cloud" with the "internet?"

And....when this happens, you have ZERO control over resolving the issue, you sit and wait.

Re:Survey? (5, Insightful)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164611)

So you no longer need a computer to "access the cloud"? And here I was labouring under the impression that the majority of support jobs were related to hardware faults, OS problems, malware and user error, how "the cloud" will stop this happening is a mystery.

Re:Survey? (5, Insightful)

CSMoran (1577071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164627)

So you no longer need a computer to "access the cloud"? And here I was labouring under the impression that the majority of support jobs were related to hardware faults, OS problems, malware and user error, how "the cloud" will stop this happening is a mystery.

The dumber the terminal, the fewer hardware faults, OS problems and malware, no?
Although in practice we can expect a dumbing down of the user base too :).

Re:Survey? (2)

MitchDev (2526834) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164645)

"Although in practice we can expect a dumbing down of the user base too :)." Does IQ measurement go below zero?

Re:Survey? (3, Informative)

ongelovigehond (2522526) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164701)

Average and standard deviation are fixed by definition, so the IQ distribution will stay the same. In theory, you can already go below 0.

Re:Survey? (5, Funny)

JazzHarper (745403) | more than 2 years ago | (#40165033)

Indeed. Stupidity is bottomless. You can get dizzy gazing into it.

Re:Survey? (-1, Troll)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164733)

"Although in practice we can expect a dumbing down of the user base too :)."

Does IQ measurement go below zero?

Yes. [teapartypatriots.org]

Re:Survey? (0, Troll)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164887)

You don't say. [demconvention.com]

Re:Survey? (5, Insightful)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164679)

So you no longer need a computer to "access the cloud"? And here I was labouring under the impression that the majority of support jobs were related to hardware faults, OS problems, malware and user error, how "the cloud" will stop this happening is a mystery.

The dumber the terminal, the fewer hardware faults, OS problems and malware, no? Although in practice we can expect a dumbing down of the user base too :).

At some point it's got to to run an OS, maybe on a backend server instead of a workstation but it's there. Where there's an OS and users, there will be malware. The hardware faults will transfer to "server" instead of the workstation. An interesting change will be that a hardware fault that takes down the box will impact multiple users instead of just one. You will get the benefit of redundancy if you're running a real server, though.

As an aside, we had cloud computing in the 80's and 90's. We called it Client-Server and used terminals connected to unix servers (in my case specifically, HP-UX). Now we're doing the same thing, just with different hardware and software.

Re:Survey? (5, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164765)

Having really dumb terminals does simplify end support though. Computer not working? Pull it out, put in a new one. Send the old one back to the manufacturer. It means one IT worker can support many more computers, and needs less training thus lower pay. This is very good from a business perspective, but very bad for job satisfaction. Telecoms went through something like that when the old click-and-bang mechanical switches were replaced with solid state boards that were just swapped out, thus reducing highly skilled engineers to the role of 'pull anything with the fault light lit and stick in a new one.' A lot of them retired early.

Re:Survey? (4, Interesting)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164905)

Having really dumb terminals does simplify end support though. Computer not working? Pull it out, put in a new one. Send the old one back to the manufacturer. It means one IT worker can support many more computers, and needs less training thus lower pay.

Only if you've divided up your roles... But so many companies have people "wearing many hats" that, in practice, it will be the same person doing the virtualization AND the "desktop" support of the virtual-desktops... Which means he'll need far MORE training than current helpdesk people. In fact, what it really does is makes IT hiring that much harder for most organizations because now you can't just hire somebody who knows Windows desktops for the helpdesk/workstation VM admin role--you would need to hire somebody who knows VDI or Xen Desktop (or something else.)

Re:Survey? (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164931)

Where are these dumb terminals? Off the shelf PCs are standard in businesses everywhere; swapping them out might not be practical for a large organisation as they might not have enough spares on hand for more than a few failures. That happened a few times back in Nortel.

Re:Survey? (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40165017)

Same with a lot of computer and electronics repair, in the old days they actually repaired them like replacing a bad chip or capacitor or welded a bad connection. Then they were replacing whole cards instead of components and eventually mostly replaced the whole box. They went from highly skilled jobs to simple manual labor to glorified delivery boys. It doesn't even matter if they are repairable, it just isn't worth a skilled person's time to look at cheap, small electronics anymore. Even warranty repairs are becoming more and more warranty replacements, it's not worth it to fix one item compared to increasing the capacity of the production line to produce some replacements.

Re:Survey? (0)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164957)

In terms of malware, Windows created a computer monoculture for the enterprise desktops. Servers have more diversity than desktops. You might see a large drop off in malware.

One more step to getting rid of the user (2)

k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164993)

The dumber the terminal, the fewer hardware faults, OS problems and malware, no? Although in practice we can expect a dumbing down of the user base too :).

And to fix the final problem: get rid of the dumb user. And then nobody will complain about faulty hardware and software. We're heading in that direction anyway. How many researcher jobs have been lost to the Google search box?

Re:Survey? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#40165029)

Funny, I seem to remember a similar idea - about how dumb terminals were going to take over the world - back in, ooh, about 1998, 1999. Have we really gone full-circle already?

Re:Survey? (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164847)

Not to mention deploying OS updates, new versions of client-side software for their cloud-hosted services, and fielding all the troubleshooting that comes from that.

Re:Survey? (4, Informative)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164945)

This was one of the early arguments for Unix/Linux.

Windows because it offers the possibility of a rich client has: complex breakable hardware, which is unique to the user, a complex OS and applications susceptible to malware. A thin client erases all those issues. The hardware itself is far less breakable, and isn't unique to the user. You can just have spares and have them fixed "whenever". The OS just has to boot the hardware and connect to the servers, and the applications all exist remotely. Think about your television as the hardware, the cable box as the OS and the shows as being applications. The TV rarely breaks and when it does it can replaced with another generic television.

Now .... you are replacing your desktop team with a more complex system admin and operations team because the local system But right now, as a legacy of Windows, most companies have both complex server solutions and complex desktop solutions.

Re:Survey? (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164651)

The sad part is nobody seems to remember we have been down this road before....show of hands, anybody remember the whole "thin client push" in the dot bomb days? I sure do, you had all these companies pushing "the net/server' would solve everything, all your IT needs and problems just poof! Gone. anybody else remember that? So what happened?

The exact same things that is gonna happen this time, worries about data security, having a whole office sitting on ass if the network ever goes down, lag and crappy hosted apps not being as good as rich desktop apps, which BTW none of these problems have been solved by replacing net or server with cloud. I guess history doomed repeat and all that.

Re:Survey? (5, Interesting)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164691)

The sad part is nobody seems to remember we have been down this road before....show of hands, anybody remember the whole "thin client push" in the dot bomb days? I sure do, you had all these companies pushing "the net/server' would solve everything, all your IT needs and problems just poof! Gone. anybody else remember that? So what happened?

The exact same things that is gonna happen this time, worries about data security, having a whole office sitting on ass if the network ever goes down, lag and crappy hosted apps not being as good as rich desktop apps, which BTW none of these problems have been solved by replacing net or server with cloud. I guess history doomed repeat and all that.

Yep, and long before that we had unix terminals connected to a central host. "Cloud computing" will hit the enterprise, and in a few years the enterprise will move on to something else.

Re:Survey? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164707)

"So what happened?"

People realized that using Windows as a thin client is as useless as a diamond tipped cutter for cheese.

Re:Survey? (2)

El Torico (732160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164899)

...a diamond tipped cutter for cheese.

That may be handy for a block of 25 year old Parmigiano-Reggiano. Then again, I already have a chain saw, so I might try that instead.

Re:Survey? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164745)

While I expect that the data security/control concerns and UX deficiencies will be(if anything) worse with served-from-offsite-across-a-WAN-by-who-knows-who 'cloud' stuff than they were with served-from-our-datacenter-over-the-network-by-IT thin client stuff, it does seem likely to me that the impact on local IT staff will be different.

In my rather painful experiences with thin clients, the client hardware itself is practically bulletproof; but the terminal servers are more than touchy enough to make up for it. Each one combines the worst aspects of managing a desktop and a server and the whole exercise largely ends up saving you a modest amount of money on clients that you spend on server gear instead.

With 'cloud', however, the care and feeding of the application server is(at least in theory) also abstracted for you. User plugs in URL, user receives email. This generation often doesn't feature particularly 'thin' client hardware, running a contemporary web browser is far more intense than running an X11/RDP/ICA client; but you hide much more of the server complexity behind the vendor.

Re:Survey? (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164999)

Terminal servers were a terrible idea. Take desktop thick client apps and deploy them remotely. That makes no sense at all. You get the disadvantages of thick client hardware, the disadvantages of tremendously expensive servers. OTOH because the apps aren't distributed you don't get the advantages in versatility of thick client. The worst of all worlds.

In the browser based solution, the goal is not to save money on client hardware. You can't, because browser apps are something like 100x more CPU intensive than local applications you might very well up your client costs. The goal though is the clients are fully generic. Any and all sufficiently powerful computers can run the remote app without any additional support. That allows for work from home culture, which saves you on real estate.

Re:Survey? (3, Insightful)

c (8461) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164795)

> The sad part is nobody seems to remember we have been down this road before....

Yup. I see "cloud" and I immediately think "client-server". Well, "client-virtual server hosted on some random network somewhere in a collection of physical servers", but whatever.

You can shuffle stuff between the client space and server space all you want, but 90% of day-to-day problems will still be found between the keyboard and the chair.

Re:Survey? (2)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164939)

I see cloud, and think of mainframes.

If the mainframe goes down, all the dumb terminals are useless, and any work is lost. Specially written software that only runs on a handful of computers of the same type, and cost overruns that makes even the most outrageous licensing deals from Oracle and MS look like blue-light specials.

Not that mainframes weren't fun, or powerful, in their heyday. But there is a major reason the PC took off.

But the best part of all of this is that I get to sit back, with a box of popcorn and a large drink, and watch an entire generation of marketing / companies built around clouds commit seppuku, for free. You can't pay money for this kind of satisfaction.

And someone will have to explain to me why any sane company would want to outsource the in-house IT. I am somewhat biased, but of all the places you could start with slashing the costs thereof, you start with the one that most executives understand the least about...I suppose they've never had the wonderous experience of "if you don't know what it does, don't touch it."

Re:Survey? (3, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164973)

Sure this cycle has been repeated since the 1960s.

1) There are real advantages to centralization for some applications
2) There are real advantages to distributed for some applications
3) There are substantial additional costs in being both distributed and centralized

3 encourages people to move towards one extreme or the other. The conflict between 1 and 2 pushes the back towards the center.

Computing generations (2)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164975)

"nobody seems to remember we have been down this road before"

Yes. When I talk to a new class, I often find it useful to draw a spiral showing the development of IT - emphasizing "we have been here before":

  • "Big iron" with dumb terminals (pre-1980, centralized computing)
  • The first PCs (1980s, decentralized computing)
  • Thin clients (1990s, centralized computing)
  • Modern PCs (2000s, decentralized computing)
  • Cloud services (ca. 2010, centralized computing)
  • Mobile computing (coming fast, decentralized computing)

Obviously, each iteration is slightly different than the one before, and there are big overlaps. Still, a spiral going around 3 times captures the spirit of computing history rather nicely. Note also - as so often, the cycle length of 20 years is pretty close to a human generation. Just like each generation thinks it invented sex, each generation thinks it has completely revolutionized computing.

Re:Survey? (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164685)

The naivety into a fud survey disturbs me, not to mention the whole company dependence issue which could lead into a business trap backlash if one fails. Cloud computing isn't going to kill anything.

Quite agree. How exactly will people access the cloud? They won't be having the cloud itself - they'll need laptops and tablets to access it. Like those things won't need support? Even if support was to come from the cloud, that's only valid when internet connectivity is fully functional (not always the case) or there is nothing physically wrong w/ the part. But for those 2 key cases, IT support will always be needed. Maybe less frequently, but no way will it go the way of the dodo.

Dream On (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164519)

Yea, right, for about 5 min. then the internet connection on the client side is down;) what then?

Re:Dream On (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164597)

You don't need desktop support for WAN outages.

Re:Dream On (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164971)

Yea, right, for about 5 min. then the internet connection on the client side is down;) what then?

Go home and work from there.

What a bunch of useless buzzwords (5, Informative)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164533)

There's no article here. It's just a bunch of marketing crap.

Re:What a bunch of useless buzzwords (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164601)

Even the basic premise doesn't stand up to a cursory glance. In order to use cloud computing people are going to need computers, which are going to need er, support. Doesn't matter what they are being used for, its the same machines.

Re:What a bunch of useless buzzwords (1)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164743)

Even the basic premise doesn't stand up to a cursory glance. In order to use cloud computing people are going to need computers, which are going to need er, support. Doesn't matter what they are being used for, its the same machines.

Yes, but if the support is lowered to "Swap out dumb terminals when they're broken and call Dell for hardware swaps" then you can do that with 1, 2 guys. If the OS and all the apps are hosted and served up remotely... ...Actually...

This isn't anything new, is it? Dumb terminals have been around for decades and didn't end the desktop. Every few years they come up with a new term for it -- this time it's apparently "Cloud Computing" -- and the tech pundits, hoping for clicks, talk about how it's going to be the year of the post-desktop.

Re:What a bunch of useless buzzwords (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164771)

one or two guys working for a little above minimum wage. If there is no need to actually diagnose and repair anything, the training time is reduced to a one-day orientation course.

Re:What a bunch of useless buzzwords (2)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164639)

In a way the article is right - but it ends up that we are turning back to the mainframe computer with terminals. The difference is that the terminals are a bit smarter today.

Re:What a bunch of useless buzzwords (4, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164653)

Anyone in IT who thinks this is news is a teen or a manager who was never technical. Mainframes were the first attempt at "cloud computing". Then we had mini-computers for distributed processing. Then to micro-computers with centralized computing again (telnetting and terminal emulations, BBS, etc.). Then distributed again as PCs grew in power. Then centralized/cloud again when servers had a resurgence in the '90s (the birth of RDP, Citrix, VNC, etc.). Then that was abandoned as PCs became more powerful than the servers of 2 years before. And now we have the massive push for "cloud" again. Same shit, another decade.

And it's *always* cheaper to in-source (provided you can find the appropriate resources). You can either do it yourself, or you can pay someone their cost, which could be your cost, plus 20% or more overhead and profit. So outsourcing costs you a minimum of 20% more than doing it in house. But all the consultants swear it's better to outsource - to their company. That's like hiring the Fox and Co security company to guard the hen house.

Re:What a bunch of useless buzzwords (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164719)

"And it's *always* cheaper to in-source (provided you can find the appropriate resources)."

Not really some things have economies of scale and startup costs.

But as long as you're not a small business, or you'll only ever what one, then it's probably cheaper to go in-house. If you are a government or large business it's nearly always cheaper to in-house, but then you can't play silly accounting games like you can for per month service charges.

Re:What a bunch of useless buzzwords (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#40165001)

But as long as you're not a small business, or you'll only ever what one, then it's probably cheaper to go in-house. If you are a government or large business it's nearly always cheaper to in-house, but then you can't play silly accounting games like you can for per month service charges.

It depends on which tools you're actually using, and where they are. Most of the tools I use on a daily basis at work are online. All I really need to do my job is a net-connected workstation with a decent browser and a connection to the company intranet (either by VPN or actually plugged in to the company network). I do have MS Office on my office workstation, but all of the functions I'm actually using with it exist in the web-based version of Office.... it's nice to have the desktop version of Outlook installed/running because of the way it integrates with my voicemail and desktop alerts, but I'm not tied to it. In fact, the only tool I use on a daily basis that actually needs to be installed is Remedy, which is a painful piece of shit to work with, but could probably be coaxed to run under Wine.... my understanding is that they're already working on a web-based interface to the databases I access through Remedy, though, because they have realized that it's probably not a good idea to continue trying to support a 15-year old 16-bit database application. :(

When you have an office set up like that, especially one that's spread across multiple locations with tens of thousands of workstations to support (most of which only need access to the network and a working browser), it really doesn't make sense to have an in-house IT staff at all locations, especially if the business you're working in doesn't involve computer support. Set the system policy up so that users can't fuck anything up, and aside from hardware attrition, workstation software support is pretty much a thing of the past. The result is that we need a *much* smaller IT department, which largely consists of hardware support people and tool owners, at which point it makes most sense to outsource it.

Ultimately, it depends on what you're doing.... there will always be industries where it makes sense to have in-house IT, because there are tools which need to be installed. There will also always be industries where the desktop itself is largely unimportant, and where it's economical to outsource IT.

Re:What a bunch of useless buzzwords (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164799)

And it's *always* cheaper to in-source (provided you can find the appropriate resources). You can either do it yourself, or you can pay someone their cost, which could be your cost, plus 20% or more overhead and profit. So outsourcing costs you a minimum of 20% more than doing it in house. But all the consultants swear it's better to outsource - to their company. That's like hiring the Fox and Co security company to guard the hen house.

By that logic, you'd never need anything like suppliers, partners or subcontractors, it'd be cheaper to do everything yourself right down to making the PC all the way from mining silicates. Supporting your basic desktop is not something unique to your company and there's typically economics of scale. I doubt you need exactly twice the IT staff to double from 200 to 400 users. For an outsourcing company that might be increasing the desktops under management from 10,200 to 10,400 instead, they can do it for less because of economics of scale.

Just to take one very obvious example of non-core activity at least here in Norway a lot of the big companies use one of the same two-three big cafeteria operators. Why? Bigger quantities of food both in purchasing and in preparation, better redundancy in kitchens and serving staff and all the overhead is spread across more customers. By far most companies would prefer to simply hire in a company that's specialized on doing exactly that if there's a reasonable number of suppliers they could switch between. When to take the total cost of doing it in house, it just isn't worth it to most companies.

Re:What a bunch of useless buzzwords (4, Insightful)

Geeky (90998) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164805)

And it's *always* cheaper to in-source (provided you can find the appropriate resources). You can either do it yourself, or you can pay someone their cost, which could be your cost, plus 20% or more overhead and profit. So outsourcing costs you a minimum of 20% more than doing it in house. But all the consultants swear it's better to outsource - to their company. That's like hiring the Fox and Co security company to guard the hen house.

Not always. Take email, look at the costs of using Google mail vs. running a complete, resilient mail system. Control over your data aside, for most small to medium businesses gmail will be a lot cheaper, not to mention more reliable and functional.

Re:What a bunch of useless buzzwords (1)

randomsearch (1207102) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164815)

> And it's *always* cheaper to in-source (provided you can find the appropriate resources). You can either do it yourself, or you can pay someone their cost, which could be your cost, plus 20% or more overhead and profit. So outsourcing costs you a minimum of 20% more than doing it in house. But all the consultants swear it's better to outsource - to their company. That's like hiring the Fox and Co security company to guard the hen house.

Simply untrue. I'm an academic writing and reading a lot about cloud computing right now, and I can tell you that studies and anecdotal reports both show that outsourcing in its traditional and cloud-based form are both cheaper - *provided* that you are starting from scratch. Migration is another issue entirely.

RS

False premise (1)

Vario (120611) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164859)

And it's *always* cheaper to in-source [...] You can either do it yourself, or you can pay someone their cost, which could be your cost, plus 20% or more overhead and profit.

I agree that in-sourcing can be cheaper as you do not have to pay for overhead and profit. Your argument relies on one premise, which is completely broken.

Your cost to do something is almost never their cost. So if they can get to the same result with 50% or sometimes far less due to economies of scale adding another 20% is still much cheaper than paying for in-source. Even if you in-source you have to pay for the whole infrastructure. Your email server needs a backup, UPS and staff, whereas the cost of a UPS in a large datacenter is split over millions of users.

Re:What a bunch of useless buzzwords (2)

sco08y (615665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164891)

There's no article here. It's just a bunch of marketing crap.

What about that graph at the top? It's in 3D! With reflections and everything!

And it clearly shows how all your devices can be connected to one of those screw and nail organizers you can buy at Home Depot.

Wiped out or shifting? (4, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164537)

You always see this kind of language when disruptive change occurs (e.g. production lines Vs. hand built, car Vs. carriage, electricity Vs. coal, etc) but all that really happens is the jobs shift from one area to another, and that people need to adapt or die.

Desktop Support MIGHT decline, but we will see growth in service level jobs at third parties. Instead of having in-house IT staff teach people how to use e-mail, you'll have someone across the country or globe do the same job.

I guess one might argue that you can shift the jobs abroad, but as we've seen in the last few years such out-sourcing is not cost effective in the long term (or at least with skilled jobs it isn't).

Yeah right (2)

Foske (144771) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164543)

Sounds like wishful thinking to me. I don't believe in the cloud, and I think many will follow when the first mayor cloud-outage or data breach has occurred. Also, staying connected to the cloud is a challenge itself, which will still require a lot of jobs. We recently had a three day down-time in our organisation, which effectively made them three lost days. Connection issues to the internet are a daily thing, but since we don't use the cloud that only delays my Slashdot posts...

Re:Yeah right (2)

Bongo (13261) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164841)

I agree although perhaps it isn't outages that'll put people off. Just musing this as I once again waited for the very unreliable bus this morning -- yet I still use public transport.

I think the cloud needs to do something that can't be done any other way, and that's the reason people would use it, and even depend on it. Like syncing stuff because it is too much hassle trying to remember which docs I copied to which piece of hardware, or like setting my device at home to record a show using my mobile, or using my mobile as a boarding pass. These are all new applications that people find handy. And sometimes they don't work, but they're still handy.

But putting it all in the cloud just for the sake of it? Why? What's the point? You'll need some IT people on site, if only to plug in those wires to the cloud, or show people how to login to the cloud, or decide which cloud to use.

Not that these are the best examples, but like, Apple: yes you can reinstall your whole operating system from the cloud if you need to in a disaster. Google: your whole system is just a local cache and really it is all in the cloud which you need most of the time. The first is something new you couldn't do before. The latter is kinda, well, why? The latter would make sense if laptop hard drives were still tiny. Instead they just give you a tiny hard drive, because well, why?

If I removed the kitchen and bathroom I could live in a smaller cheaper house. But again, why? It isn't so expensive to add a kitchen and bathroom, and they're very handy.

Survey-vertisement (4, Informative)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164557)

This survey is done by Gartner, and thats all you really need to know. Basically its a clever ad for Gartners consulting services "cleverly" disguised as a survey to try to give it some sort of credibility.

This isnt the first time they have done this, this wont be the last. I remember back in 2003 they basically came out with a survey that stated something along the lines of "by 2010 around 50% of all US IT jobs will be offshored...oh and apropos of nothing, we just HAPPEN to have an offshore IT consulting service. What a coincidence! Contact us now for a no-fee consultation, and remember, 50% of all jobs, you dont want to be left behind, call today!"

However their predictions werent even CLOSE to being true, I would be surprised if 10% of all IT jobs are now done offshore, still a large % to be sure, but nowhere near what Gartner was predicting. Of course, Gartner doesnt have a vested interest in being truthful, they have a vested interest in creating alarmist headlines to try to drum up business for their shitty consulting arm.

Re:Survey-vertisement (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164573)

Well, they were not lying. They were just off by a few years. 50% of IT jobs were going offshore by 2006. By 2010, they were all back again...

Re:Survey-vertisement (1)

fwarren (579763) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164667)

These are the same people that predicted the massive rise to hundreds of millions of Netbooks after the first Netbooks hit the market. From 2009 we can see that their 2012 predictions are off. They did not see Microsoft killing the Netbook market. They also failed to note at the time the rise of the iPAD.

It is almost to the point that if Gartner predicts something I can be sure that is the ONE thing that won't happen.

Re:Survey-vertisement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164883)

That. Gartner doesn't make money if people do things they know which work. They make money by having clueless IT and business execs charge off into things they know nothing about, and for which they just happen to offer consulting services.

However, don't underestimate this. "Cloud computing" may be (ok, is) snake oil, but most executives are idiots who never listen to their own people about anything. The whole off shoring trend was a perfect and tragic example of managing by following the heavily marketed and hyped trend. Of course, since no executive ever makes a mistake ever, we will continue to be stuck with poor decision making.

goose peeking out from within my anus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164561)

could a goose fit inside a rectum and peek out of the anus and make noises?

Re:goose peeking out from within my anus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164579)

Yes, I have one now, but his web feet are tickling me inside.

Re:goose peeking out from within my anus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164587)

No, you moron, that's a duck.

Re:goose peeking out from within my anus (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164715)

No, you moron, that's a duck.

Thats no duck; thats an insurance company.

Re:goose peeking out from within my anus (1)

The_Crisis (2221344) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164751)

Thats no duck; thats an insurance company.

That's no insurance company, that's a space station.

Good riddance (3, Insightful)

coder111 (912060) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164575)

I don't really like "cloud" as a solution for this, but I think desktop support is a waste of resources. Be it thin clients, remote administration, Linux on desktop or whatever, but anything that cuts down desktop support is a good thing in my book.

And if you are worried about lost jobs, well, breaking windows is also a job, but it does no good. These people would be more beneficial to society doing something else.

--Coder

Re:Good riddance (2)

DavidRawling (864446) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164617)

Desktop support isn't just about the hardware and OS. It is also about "how do I do X" and "I can't access the Internet". Both of which require hands on help, if not always, certainly often. Plus as others have said, it is a poorly disguised marketing effort by Gartner, so ignore it .. SITREP normal for now.

Re:Good riddance (2)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164749)

[Desktop support] is also about "how do I do X" and "I can't access the Internet". Both of which require hands on help, if not always, certainly often.

Accessing support on the cloud when the 'net is down is... challenging. (True story: we had a taste of that yesterday due to a bad BGP route pushed by an upstream provider. Irritating as blazes — Slashdot was one of the sites I had trouble reaching — but fascinating to watch and see which of our core services had been outsourced.)

Re:Good riddance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164873)

I thought most IT professionals spent their time fixing broken Windows.

Re:Good riddance (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164955)

Nonsense. They spend much of their time explaining to users why their latest machines are lacking "cup-holders."

Seriously (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164581)

Who validates such bullcrap to be published on slashdot ?
There is not even a single argument or anything, just FUD and buzzword.

Re:Seriously (2)

thomst (1640045) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164717)

And Anonymous Coward asked:

Who validates such bullcrap to be published on slashdot ? There is not even a single argument or anything, just FUD and buzzword.

In this case? Samzenpus.

desktop (desk side) vs service desk / remote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164589)

Whilst there may not be much need for desktop support positions I would imagine a number of service desk people for remote support would be needed. The company I work for has essentially been doing cloud infrastructure for the past ten years - think terminal servers and citrix. You may not need much desktop (desk side) support but you do need people to help with general connectivity, basic workstation management, printing and process issues.

Will the cloud magically train users? (5, Insightful)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164595)

I worked in desktop support for a number of different companies. (I've also done software testing, and programming.) Currently, I do end user support for a vertical software package.

Anyway, in ten years across four different firms supporting everything from commodity hardware to custom software, one thing has remained constant. Most support calls aren't for the sort of configuration and installation issues that the cloud solves. Rather, most support calls are for users that are unable (or unwilling) to read the manual or to show the user how to do things that are either too basic or too complicated to have been included in the manual.

Moving to the cloud isn't going to magically make a user understand the difference between a short cut and a file. Nor is it going to explain to them what those numbers in that report that hits that one table in the database means.

If the printers are in the cloud, (0)

Marrow (195242) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164851)

Do you have to chase your pages around the parking lot as they descend from on high?

Re:Will the cloud magically train users? (2)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164997)

Hmm. I've noticed a perverse kind of...obsession among management types to 'get rid of IT.' I don't know if it's inter-company politics, or pure jealousy, but the talk / attempts lately seem more...intense. There is no real reasoning behind their desire to remove IT, just a feeling.

And I say obsession, because that's what it is. You can have 30+ incidents or attempts by one group or another to outsource IT, have wasted hideous amounts of resources doing so, and have everyone know that it's a mistake to even think about it, yet someone will give it another go. I'm starting to think that some of the other departments have let the "IT is here to serve you" i.e. "they are your gophers and willing bitches" go to their heads, and think, for some odd reason, that outsourcing IT will result in better service ("Hey, if we don't like they way they treat us, we can just cancel the contract" -> "Hey Idiot, if you just imported all of the companies data to a third-party, and you don't pay, they lock you out of your own database; plus, God help you if you took advantage of their API, no one else will be able to use that software without a rewrite.").

Anyone that knows anything... (4, Insightful)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164609)

If you know anything, you know that's nonsense. For one thing, most companies require services not offered by the cloud. Beyond that, never under estimate the user's ability to not be able to find the O.N. button or otherwise screw up a foolproof system.

The IT situation is going to change. It always does. But abstracting it all to the cloud isn't possible unless you have a custom database designed for the amazon cloud or something and even then you've got the whole IT department that manages that.

Beyond that you have local files. Telling businesses that they can't get access to anything if the internet drops isn't going to work.

There are just so many serious fatal problems with this idea.

This funny little video touches on a few:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4EbCkotKPU [youtube.com]

Yes yes... evil M$... insert hiss and boo... but we're talking about end user business software. Have fun clawing Excel out of their cold dead hands.

Re:Anyone that knows anything... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164845)

It's obvious that you don't really know either what is meant by "the cloud" or much about it... The cloud is a term which I don't really like much as it lets a lot of IT Managers abstract things that they know nothing about and then sound like they are experts, however the concepts behind the term work well.

Take your obsession of hanging on to desktops for local files and some strange notion that you need to "custom" design something for the cloud.

Even here in local government we are working now toward introducing a virtual desktop infrastructure where users will use dumb terminals either to sign on to a virtual machine or to a virtual desktop. In management lingo it's a "cloud" service, in reality it's racks of servers with virtual machines running on them, to the user there's no difference between this and a full local machine (unless the network goes down, in which case these days they'd have difficulty anyway). The user will get their own desktop, their own storage that to them appears to be local but the cost of the kit on the desk becomes so little you can litterally throw away the old kit when it fails and slap a new box in. On top of that the users "local" files now follow them from machine to machine and they can access their own machine remotely very easily. It also means that all support for the OS and applications can easily be handled from the datacentre... the list goes on.

The idea that the world stops if the network goes down as a reason to not get this kind of set-up for any *large* organisation is nonsense. If you are a fairly large organisation the likelyhood is that your world stops if the network goes down in any case, no access to email, no access to hosted applications... the list goes on.

Re:Anyone that knows anything... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164901)

I understand your point and mostly agree, but I'd like to play devil's advocate: if the network goes down and you have a regular desktop, you can still work on your reports, spreadsheets, and etc. that are all locally stored on the PC for at least some period of time. If the same documents were stored on a cloud PC, you'd be 100% unable to do anything for the duration of the outage.

I'm not saying that the costs outweigh the benefits, but it's not as simple as you make it out to be.

Re:Anyone that knows anything... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40165021)

Have you actually worked in support? You're handwaving his (true) point that there are major differences here from the customer's perspective.

When the LAN drops, you have Bob to yell at, and since Bob's very job rests on fixing this problem you can rest assured that he will bust his hump to fix it and prevent it from happening again. If the cloud goes down, you're looking at some faceless support organization for whom you are merely one client. Maybe they are better, maybe they are cheaper, but when accounting has no access to the general ledger, those distinctions tend to become fuzzy. What's the point of IT (a cost center in the minds of executives already) when they can't even be responsible for downtime?

Losing the Internet when all your stuff is local has an impact, sure, but intra-company e-mail still works, and everyone has access to their local files. Losing the Internet when you're on the cloud means all productivity comes to a standstill. Even losing local network may not stop everything in a traditional setup, but any disruption in local or outside access stops everything in the cloud. And again, you may have demonstrably less downtime with the cloud, but the first time the CEO's Administrative Assistant can't do something that she would have been able to if you weren't cloud-based, you will find yourself trying to sell people what they've already bought.

It's not as simple a decision as you seem to think. The idea that a structure that introduces new ways for things to go wrong is completely risk-free, and all alternatives are "nonsense" is pretty naive, actually.

you really mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164673)

will rely on Mumbai

Sir, I haz no LAN/web access at my desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164681)

Just contact the cloud they'll fix it.

But Sir, how c.. -I'll be at a meeting.

And the user will hardly perceive any change... (0)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164683)

... as I never got any kind of help from a Help Desk that effectively gone further than dictating me a Dog =P Damned F.A.Q.

Dilbert has it all figured out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164693)

http://www.dilbert.com/2012-05-25/

http://search.dilbert.com/comic/Cloud%20Computing

How do we make links on this site? There's nothing in FAQ about it.

Re:Dilbert has it all figured out (2)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164747)

Standard HTML works. In this case, you're looking for text [slashdot.org] .

Why Slashdot hasn't migrated to a modern standard such as BBCode is beyond me, but oh well. It is what it is.

Re:Dilbert has it all figured out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164923)

BBCode is hardly modern - been around for a long time. The only advantage to BBCode is that it's slightly easier to use than HTML. Otherwise it's the same damn thing in principle.

BTW, you seemed to have a boo boo in your own HTML which is funny.

Gartner Strikes Again (3, Insightful)

RonVNX (55322) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164705)

"Desktop support" isn't really about desktops. DUH. It's about users, who won't be going anywhere, and will continue to need to have their hands held for even the most trivial of things.

Maybe "the cloud" will make Gartner go away. The Cloud can do anything right?

Analyst reports are thinly veiled advertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164711)

What many people don't realize is that analysts make the majority of their money by selling rights to the 'analysis' and favorable quotes to companies that are subject to the analysis. Give them some money they'll even keynote for you, favorably of course. Want to brief them on your product? That'll be a 'fee' of $x you know to cover 'expenses' etc.

Given enough money you could get Gartner to see a future of mobile data centers powered by clowns on unicycles. Heck forget PUE they'll invent you a new clown based metric.

The only reason they have any perceived value is due to the 'objectivity' they represent, a perception purchased to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from companies marketing funds.

Posting as AC as I am not speaking for my employer who loves analysts.

Who still has desktop support? (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164741)

Seriously. Hasn't everyone already been 'empowered' to fix everything on their own? Help desks haven't been anything more that ticket cutting password resetters for years and years. Oh you have a problem? Yeah let me kick that up to level 2 and maybe they'll get back to you in a week or two.

Re:Who still has desktop support? (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40165009)

Shhhh, don't spoil the entertainment for the rest of us. It's not often that you get advance notice that a company is going to be failing, let alone in such a splendid way.

Unlikely... (3, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164777)

Even as more apps are becoming web based, in the short to medium term users will still be accessing them using the same desktops they always have and will still need support for them.

Perhaps long term, users can move to simpler dumb terminals that have less to go wrong and thus require less support. But that's less, not none... Things can still go wrong, one of the primary functions of desktop support is unjamming printers and replacing toner which despite promises of the paperless office won't be going away any time soon.

There will also be a need to debug network level issues, as a dumb terminal is useless without its network...

So sure, desktop support will be reduced but not "wiped out"...

The other half.. (3, Insightful)

scsirob (246572) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164793)

Perhaps the article is right that more than half of IT is going into a cloud. That means that almost half will still be in-house, and it is usually that half which requires the IT support staff. It is local, customized applications that need attention. Sure, a word processor can be ran anywhere. But your CRM system will not be so easy to move into the cloud, Regardless of what cloud vendors are trying to tell you.

The IT staff is here to stay.

good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164869)

I always found the lame "pc technician" shitbags who work those jobs to be morons.

Time to start taking the Cloud seriously (4, Interesting)

randomsearch (1207102) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164877)

There's an awful lot of scepticism on slashdot about the cloud, which is healthy in a way, but I think in general people are hugely underestimating the impact that cloud computing is going to have on IT deployment. It is going to affect us all; software as a service holds huge challenges for the free software movement, some skillsets such as traditional IT support are not going to be as useful, and the way we write software is going to change further.

I'm no cloud zealot, I've just been reading about it a lot and talking to Cloud providers (some large, some medium-sized) and academic experts. I've tried to answer the many points that have been brought up here:

-- "We've been down this road before."

We have, but things *are* different now. Firstly, we have sophisticated and mature virtualisation technologies that allow efficient coresidency and management of VMs. Costs per CPU hour have dropped. Internet access is incredibly pervasive. The "post-PC" era of tablets and smart phones are producing a huge demand for cloud-based storage and services. Does this mean cloud will automatically be successful? No. Does it mean that comparisons with previous era's are not necessarily correct? Yes. If you want another example, tablets didn't 'work' in the past... but now they do.

-- Moving to the cloud won't change anything.

Yes, and no. We will still need IT to manage the cloud services, and engineer bespoke cloud products. Users will still require support. But you're no longer talking about rolling out O/S updates across your company, or installing the latest version of Word. No more capital investment in some server hardware, no more long-term planning of purchases of those servers. If a thin client is broken, you just replace it, and maintaining those thin clients is a hell of a lot easier if they're dumb.

-- Bespoke solution X won't work on the cloud.

No, it won't. But your Exchange server certainly can be moved to the cloud quite easily. In fact, many companies start their move to the cloud with Exchange, and then migrate to live apps... the point is, that you don't have to move *everything* to the cloud in order to make savings and find other benefits.

My advice is, go learn about cloud computing, start looking at the architectures that cloud applications use. Read up on Amazon Web Services and try it out. Take a look at Google App Engine. Read a few books looking at the business case for the cloud before you dismiss it.

RS

Re:Time to start taking the Cloud seriously (0)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 2 years ago | (#40165003)

I do desktop and software support, let me give you my real world reactions...

Costs per CPU hour have dropped.
We know! We haven't upgraded our computers since 2006, and we're still running everything under Windows XP.

Internet access is incredibly pervasive.
Why can't I connect to the server to fix it? Oh. You firewalled off all internet access.

The "post-PC" era of tablets and smart phones are producing a huge demand for cloud-based storage and services.
Tablets? We won't even get our employees cellphones!

All I see with the cloud is having your software/data on servers no one is willing to be responsible for.

are they including things like XenApps? (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164919)

If they include things like the use of Citrix XenApps then I can see a sharp decline...local cloud based application publishing will reduce desktop support to almost nothing... especially if those companies are able to move completely to thin clients.

What'll actually happen (4, Insightful)

jht (5006) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164921)

A lot of today's internal server support jobs will go away. But there will still be network infrastructure to support (somebody has to manage the switches, firewalls, and access points), there's still going to be desktop support (PEBKAC errors, hardware, and malware), and there will likely be at least some local resources that need to be managed. We won't have a lot of people managing Exchange servers or Active Directory anymore. Or actually we still will - they'll just be working for the cloud providers instead of the client company.

Besides that, this will open up opportunities for outsource support firms (disclaimer: I own a small one). Companies will still need specialized support resources on occasion, just likely not enough to employ a lot of them as staff. They will get that expertise as-needed to supplement what they have in-house.

I refute it thus (kicks user) (3, Interesting)

UncHellMatt (790153) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164925)

Bless my users and their black little hearts, desktop support is highly unlikely to ever vanish. Certainly change, certainly remote desktop support (ie gotoassist) will increase, however there will still (likely) be situations where an actual person is going to be needed to go directly to a person and help.

With the increase in mobile computing and potential to see the desktop PC effectively vanish in 20 years (or less!), you will still have people who not only shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a means of communication more complex than smoke signals, and you will still need someone at the ready with a fire extinguisher. The current generation of tech savvy middle school age children will, of course, be part of that next generation of mobile users. However, problems happen. Mobile users will, most likely, still have an office which needs to be set up, which needs to have a person come and assist in problems. They will still need face to face time to help sort out issues, train in the use of a device, and possibly troubleshoot. I have many users who experience abject terror at the prospect of setting up even the most simple minded of USB printers, activating a phone, or even plugging in speakers! Odds are such phobia won't just up and vanish.

There is also a more human element that many people desire when dealing with technical issues. Perhaps we'll see more situations like Apple's genius bar, or *shudder* Geek Squad, taking shape in the business of support. But who knows? At this point, pundits shouldn't attempt to speculate about the IT industry in 2 years, let alone 8 or 20.

Master Control Program or MCP (1)

bigdogpete (1796228) | more than 2 years ago | (#40164963)

Need I say more?

Cloud Resolving PC and Server problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40164987)

It's easy to understand how the cloud will resolve computer and server problems... as long as it's a cloud of magical server and computer fixing pixie dust. ;)

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