A new report from Gartner suggests that, for specialists in IT contracting at least, keeping one’s head in the clouds is set to become a most lucrative strategy.

The cloud in question, of course, refers to new generation computer infrastructure rather than to the cumulonimbus variety. At the recent 2012 Gartner IT Infrastructure & Operations Management Summit in Frankfurt, Germany, the firm forecast that 5% of all virtual machines on the planet would be run on cloud-based Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) systems by 2015. This is certain to lead to a surge in demand for contractors in the IT skills market who have experience with cloud technology.

Contractors with expertise in the mobile app market will also find themselves being headhunted: Gartner believes that downloads from stores will hit 31 billion by the end of 2012. The firm notes that both consumer and business users download from app stores, making it difficult to determine exactly how many business apps versus consumer apps are in demand; however, in demand they all certainly are.

The cloud is facilitating the management of vast volumes of data, according to Gartner’s vice-president Milind Govekar, with the result that Software as a Service (SaaS) management providers have to deal with unprecedented quantities of data: the age of ‘big data’ is here, and again, IT expertise will be needed to ensure it is handled properly.

Gartner’s report follows the latest Report on Jobs from the REC and KPMG, which showed that, despite a dip in May due to exceedingly challenging economic conditions, demand for PAYE umbrella techies remains healthy. If Gartner’s forecast proves accurate, it is set to grow even healthier.

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