Research firm IDC, in a study paid for by Microsoft, predicts that cloud computing will generate nearly 14 million jobs globally by 2015 — based on the premise that companies that move to the cloud will see increased revenue growth and cost savings that will lead them to create jobs.
Cloud computing refers to putting data and applications on remote servers and data centers, rather than storing them in a company’s own mainframes. Users can then access the data and applications through the Internet.
Microsoft, of course, has a large interest in touting the benefits of the cloud. It offers an array of cloud services and company executives have repeatedly emphasized how important they think the cloud is to the future of computing — and to the company.
The IDC study, being released today, predicts that IT innovation enabled by the cloud could help increase business revenue by $1.1 trillion by 2015, which would lead to an increase in the number of jobs across many different fields.
Different industries will generate job growth at different rates, with more than half of the predicted job growth being in small- and medium-sized businesses, according to the IDC report. The banking, communications and “discrete manufacturing” industries could see growth of a million jobs each, the IDC study says.
The predicted job growth is also likely to differ by region, with a majority of those new jobs coming in emerging markets, particularly China and India.
“The basic rationale for job growth is that IT innovation allows for business innovation, which leads to business revenue, which leads to job creation — a premise that is not unique to this study,” the IDC report says.
So far spending on cloud services is only a small percentage of the amount companies spend on total IT services — about $28 billion in 2011 (compared with more than $1.7 trillion in total IT spending), according to IDC.
Many companies’ IT spending is tied to the maintenance of “legacy systems,” and moving to the cloud would free up some of that budget, according to John Gantz, senior vice president and chief research officer at IDC.
There are “lower capital constraits with cloud,” he said. “That translates to job creation. … These are jobs in all sectors of the economy, not just IT departments. … Even small companies in emerging economies have a chance to better themselves through use of the cloud.”