Big Switch To Work From Home

What happens when IT departments switch from in-house networked services to utility services? There’s going to be a lot of IT people looking for work. At least that’s what Nicholas Carr predicts, in his latest book, The Big Switch. According to Carr, computing power is undergoing a transformation, moving off desktops and into massive data centers, where it’s cheaper and more efficient.

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Companies used to produce their own electricity, but eventually power generation and transmission technology advanced to the point that they all joined the grid. According to Carr this is about to happen with computing power too. Larry Ellison and Oracle have promoted the idea for ages, and Amazon’s EC2 (Elastic Computing Cloud) and S3 (Simple Storage) services already provide a centralized utility users can tap in to rapidly and cheaply develop scalable applications.

One development that will help make the transformation to utility computing happen is Cisco’s new Nexus 7000, a network switch that can route 15 terabits of data per second, 20 times more than any switch currently available. Especially significant, the new switch will handle short-haul Fibre Channel and Infiniband cables plus Ethernet, allowing servers and drives to talk to each other hundreds or thousands of miles apart, and allowing multipurpose ‘virtual systems’ implemented entirely in software to cooperate across the country.

What does all this mean for work at home jobs and freelance home businesses? As companies move to the grid, their IT departments will drastically downsize according to Carr. He forecasts the day will come when there will be just one person sitting at a PC issuing commands over the Internet to a distant utility much as Craigslist, YouTube, and Flickr do today–minimal staff making maximum use of the infogrid.

Work at home programmers and content producers such as writers, artists, reviewers, and editors will become the virtual workforce supporting the virtual systems. Given that 66% of workers say they’d rather work from home, and given increasing gas prices and traffic snarls your opportunity to undress for success may be just around the corner.

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