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Exploring a healthy cloud-computing job market

In a struggling economy, the tech industry is a shining light. Even within the strong tech economy, though, cloud computing stands out right now.

While much of the global economy struggles with creating jobs, the high-tech industry has had a better record than most. Yes, there are conflicting reports about IT job growth overall. But in general, the market remains quite strong for technologists.

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Within high tech itself, there is one standout opportunity for experienced, innovative people: cloud computing.

Even with the roar of VMworld-related cloud announcements--and counter-announcements--there have been a few really interesting data points that have come out this week with respect to cloud-related work.

For instance, Boto creator Mitch Garnaat, noted last week that there were 181 jobs listed for Amazon Web Services in the U.S. alone. Rob La Gesse countered that the second largest infrastructure as a service provider, Rackspace, had 175 jobs available in the States. Conversations with sources at Terremark, IBM, and others indicate that they are quickly expandng their cloud teams in response to increasing market demand.

Those providing cloud infrastructure are also seeking very unusual skill combinations that combine infrastructure and data center architecture and operations, with application architecture and operations. Knowledge of server, network and storage, and the application of converged infrastructures to virtualized environments--or at least the ability to understand what that means--seems to be a baseline for the large systems vendors these days, such as my own employer, Cisco Systems, as well as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Oracle, EMC, NetApp, and most others.

Perhaps the most surprising news about cloud jobs this week, however, was from an employment report from freelance contractor job site, Elance.

While development of applications to run in the cloud has largely been associated with Amazon Web Services to date, there appears to have been a sudden burst of interest in Google App Engine developers--in fact, a 10x increase since last quarter.

This burst of demand put App Engine ahead of AWS in Elance's ranking of top overall skills in demand, according to the Elance report.

I find this surprising only in that I haven't seen a lot of evidence of App Engine in the marketplace. But Krishnan Subramanian has a great post exploring why this might be. The combination of VMware's Spring framework with the App Engine cloud model seems to have attracted a large number of small Web applications--a claim that is reportedly substantiated by the research of VMware's Jian Zhen on Alexis.

The bottom line is that IT use of the cloud is growing very quickly, and demand for skills to enable that growth is climbing as a result. If you have skills related to IT operations, application administration/operations, or software development, now may be the time to dive into the cloud.