The Next Hot IT Job: Service Broker

IT architects may not lose their jobs to cloud computing, but they might find themselves in the role of IT service broker because of it.

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If you look at the most popular roles in enterprise IT today compared to a decade ago, you'll notice that key IT roles have changed dramatically. Today's hot IT jobs -- including security engineers, server virtualization administrators, and mobile developers -- were nonexistent or played a far less significant role in the past. We can expect the same to happen in the future.

One role starting to develop prominence is what's known as an "IT service broker." And if you don't think your department needs one now, you probably will see the need in the not too distant future.

Gartner's Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014 called out the IT service broker as a position that would be gaining importance in cloud-leveraged organizations. The broker's responsibilities are to work with public, private, and hybrid cloud service providers to assist in the design, implementation, and support of cloud services. Each organization is different -- it's the duty of the service broker to understand those differences, translate them into the optimal cloud strategy, and then work with service providers to create a custom service at the lowest possible cost.

If you were to read the above description of what an IT service broker does, you might conclude that businesses using cloud services will no longer require in-house technical experts such as network and server architects. But this assumption would be misguided. In-house technical staff will still be required, but their duties will change. The main difference is in how their technology expertise will be applied as they move to the service broker role.

Translating information back and forth between business leaders and service provider architects will likely arise as the biggest challenge IT service brokers will face. A clear understanding of business drivers -- and the optimal cloud technologies available to facilitate those business goals -- will be needed.

That means that service brokers will need to understand the technical nuances of current and future cloud technologies. When there are dozens of technical ways to accomplish the same business goals, someone has to be responsible for choosing the right technology for the job. Ideally, this would be a former network engineer or server administrator on the inside who can work closely with the business leaders.

As cloud adoption continues to pick up steam, I expect many network and server virtualization experts to abandon their jobs as in-house data center architects and migrate to positions as IT service brokers. IT professionals who can translate business needs into technical designs are prime candidates. If these employees have the capacity to communicate both on technical and business levels, they will be able to settle in nicely to the next hot IT job.

Private clouds are moving rapidly from concept to production. But some fears about expertise and integration still linger. Also in the Private Clouds Step Up issue of InformationWeek: The public cloud and the steam engine have more in common than you might think (free registration required).

About the Author(s)

Andrew Froehlich, President, West Gate Networks

President, West Gate Networks

As a highly experienced network architect and trusted IT consultant with worldwide contacts, particularly in the United States and Southeast Asia, Andrew Froehlich has nearly two decades of experience and possesses multiple industry certifications in the field of enterprise networking. Froehlich has participated in the design and maintenance of networks for State Farm Insurance, United Airlines, Chicago-area schools and the University of Chicago Medical Center. He is the founder and president of Loveland, Colo.-based West Gate Networks, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and data center build outs. The author of two Cisco certification study guides published by Sybex, he is a regular contributor to multiple enterprise IT related websites and trade journals with insights into rapidly changing developments in the IT industry.

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