There is a growing opinion that the increasing adoption of cloud computing services is causing internal IT personnel to become redundant within organisations. However, there are others that believe there is still a need for system administrators if they are willing to attain new skill sets.


As more organisations move towards the cloud, there is less reliance on physical servers to keep a business running. This puts IT personnel such as system administrators, tasked with ensuring that physical servers, computers and networks are constantly running, out of a job. The demand for such skills are quickly waning. However, there is still a future for system administrators.

“Organisations will still need internal IT staff,” commented Kareem Tawansi, CEO of software development provider, Solentive Software. “However, they will require a different skill set if they are to remain relevant to the organisation.”

“System administrators need to gain new soft skill sets such as vendor management and contract negotiation. For example, they need to ensure that cloud service providers are meeting the needs of the organisation. Other IT skills needed include business analysis, project management and technical leadership. These skills are in high demand and cannot be outsourced,” continued Tawansi.

“Furthermore, their existing skills of fixing computers and understanding application compatibility will remain an asset to any organisation. Maintenance of infrastructure is still required as computers will need to be cared for. Such services are not covered by cloud service providers,” explained Tawansi.

Some organisations looking to acquire cloud services lack the right skill sets internally to help them make the right choices for their organisation’s needs. They require staff with the following skills:

  • Contract negotiation and vendor management – to choose the right cloud service provider for your organisation, you need someone that has the technical skills to understand the intricacies of the service offered and what your organisation requires. Once a cloud service provider is chosen, you will still require someone from IT to monitor and ensure that the organisation is receiving the service agreed upon.
  • Project management – the transition to the cloud is a project in itself and needs to be managed by someone with strong communication skills.
  • Server virtualisation – cloud computing evolved from server virtualisation, therefore skills in this area will be beneficial in becoming a cloud computing expert.
  • Networking – as more users are adopting cloud services within the organisation, this puts a strain on the company network. Networking experts will be needed to ensure that the organisation’s infrastructure network is able to meet the high demand brought on by cloud computing services.
  • Integration – disparate systems will need to be integrated to improve productivity.
  • Information security – new privacy laws means that organisations need to take all reasonable means to ensure that sensitive data is protected and that their cloud service providers are compliant.

Furthermore, software developers will need to have the foresight to develop applications that can tolerate different infrastructure issues such as latency and security. Cloud applications are expected to be used in diverse organisations with wide-ranging infrastructure environments. This also means that they need to be scalable so that they can withstand heavy usage and scaled down as needed.

The need for system administrators has not become obsolete, rather, their role within the organisation has shifted. They will require more soft skills such as contract negotiation and vendor management in order to succeed in this cloud computing world. Such skills cannot be commoditised and are an asset to any organisation.