For the last week I’ve seen a number of articles pointing to the fact that cloud computing is creating millions of jobs. Fourteen million worldwide by 2015 according to a recent article from Forbes citing IDC research.  It’s going to be 2M jobs in India, 200K in the UK, 70K in Canada etc. Great news, isn’t it?

But beyond the excitement, what does that really mean? How many of these jobs will be net additions and how many will be replacements of existing jobs going away? That unfortunately is not stated.

Through virtualization, we reduce the number of servers needed. This has a direct impact not just on the manufacturers, but also on the amount of operators required. Through standardization and automation we reduce the amount of operators even more. OK, we will need some people to set-up the automation, but the amount is less than the operators that disappear.  Otherwise the ROI of the investment doesn’t stack up. Self-provisioning reduces the call center team that responds to business user enquiries. And I can go on like that.

For a number of years, IT departments have been reducing their costs, and the cloud, particularly the private cloud, has been a good way for enterprises to do that. Obviously public clouds are being created all over the place and they require people to run and manage them. But the jobs that are done in the public clouds are no longer done in the private ones, so there is a balance transfer between both models.

The question is really how analysts, or anyone,  make these estimates. Cloud will definitely allow us to do new things. The consumerization of IT means there will be more cloud datacenters, but if I remember right a Google datacenter is managed by a couple of people, so we aren’t talking about huge quantities.

Software development is shifting to the cloud so many software developers will be cloud developers in the near future. But are they new jobs?

I would love us to have a technology that reduces costs while increasing the number of jobs. But frankly I cannot really imagine how this would happen. According to the Forbes article, since jobs are being created as a result of increased business revenue from cloud, the jobs will be across the breadth of enterprises, in areas such as marketing, sales, finance and administration, production, and service. Fine, but the marketing efforts going into cloud services will not go into the services they are replacing. Ultimately, the amount of money the world population has to spend is not increasing exponentially, and an increase of 14 million jobs by 2015 is an exponential increase.

So, let’s keep them honest, right?