I think most of us know that the world is not really a meritocracy. We know that the value of many things is not necessarily intrinsic to the item; value is based on perception. That's a large part of the economic theory of supply and demand. The more people want something, the more it should cost.
I ran across a piece that surveyed some salaries and it shows that people working with cloud platforms are commanding higher salaries, even when the underlying technologies are the same. It seems crazy, but that's the world we live in. Perceptions drive a lot of things in the world, especially the ones that don't seem to make sense.
Should you specialize in cloud technologies? In one sense, the platform is not a lot different than what you might run in your local data center. Virtualized machines, connections and deployments to remote networks, and limited access to the physical hardware. There are subtle differences, and learning about them and working with them, could be good for your next job interview, when the HR person or technology-challenged manager asks you about Azure.
Part of your career is getting work done, using your skills and talents in a practical and efficient manner. However a larger part of it, IMHO, is the marketing of your efforts and accomplishments. The words you choose, the way you present yourself, these things matter. I would rather be able to talk about SQL Azure as a skill, and then relate that to local Hyper-V installations of SQL Server than the other way around.
If you are considering new work, or interesting in the way cloud computing might fit into an environment, I'd urge you to take a look at SQL Azure or the Amazon web services. You can get a very low cost account for your own use, and experiment. You might even build a little demo for your next interview that impresses the person who signs the paychecks.
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