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Is the Sky the Limit for the Cloud Computing?

By Gregory J. Wilcox, Daily News, Los AngelesMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

March 23, 2012--The "cloud" is going to rain jobs.

About 50,000 of them in the Los Angeles area by 2015, according to a survey commissioned by Microsoft.

That's not surprising since one of the company's business lines is selling cloud computing, the phrase the tech industry uses to describe the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product.

"Cloud computing is a new approach to getting applications," said Tyler Bryson, general manager at Microsoft Enterprise and Partners Group for the Southwest.

This could somewhat reverse the general trend of technology eliminating jobs. The survey conducted by IDC concluded that the new jobs will be across a broad spectrum, including communications and media, banking and manufacturing.

Here's how it works: Instead of a company buying its own computer network and hiring staff to maintain it, it meets its computing needs by purchasing services from a third party.

The business buys the processing power, applications and memory it needs and uses the money it saves to add staff, Bryson said.

"Users can figure out how much they want ... and pay as they go," Bryson said of computing services.

Cloud computing has been around for a while and is offered by companies like Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM in addition to Microsoft.

So the job generation has likely already started here.

"You are feeling it now, you probably just don't realize it because there are problems

in other parts of the economy," Bryson said.

James Sinclair, founder of Los Angeles-based Onsite Consulting, a firm that offers turnaround services to hospitality industry businesses, is a proponent of the cloud.

He's got 65 employees and no office. Sinclair said he gave up his traditional office about two years ago and has saved "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in overhead.

And he's grown the company from 40 revenue producers to 65 by retraining employees who did administrative work and other office-related tasks.

"I can find technology that matches my business rather than matching my business to my technology," he said.

Not everyone is buying into the survey's claim.

The industry publication "Information Week" noted that getting an accurate count of the number of jobs created by businesses switching to cloud computing "is more guesswork than science."

"It's an interesting issue and at first you would say, yeah, that makes sense," Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist at the Kyser Center for Economic Research at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., said of cloud computing's job generating capability.

But he notes that information technology jobs would be lost as businesses migrate to the cloud.

"It wouldn't surprise me if there is a net gain of 50,000 jobs but it's not a huge increase," he said. "We'll take any gain we can get, don't get me wrong. Any job gain would be good."

greg.wilcox@dailynews.com

818-713-3743

twitter.com/dngregwilcox

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(c)2012 the Daily News (Los Angeles)

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