Role Reversal: Will the Cloud Transform the IT Department Right Out of a Job?

A. DeCarlo

A. DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • One-fifth of North American businesses surveyed in Current Analysis’ 2011 study on cloud adoption think the cloud will not change IT’s role in the company
  • The reality is that because the cloud will alter the way businesses consume technology, the IT department can expect profound change

Say what you will about the cloud and the entire noise surrounding the concept, it is time to believe the hype. Sure, it is easy to shrug off the noise around the on-demand delivery model, but a virtualized scheme is no longer some kind of niche idea but rather a pragmatic method that pools resources to supply technology services.  Providers are applying virtualization technology to bend their delivery models to meet corporate demand for more flexible and cost-effective IT services. And though there have been more than a few false starts, the early results are promising with some genuine successes in improved efficiencies, real expense reductions and even more agile working models.

This is the good news story. However, the question remains: What impact is there on the IT team when an organization throws out into the cloud processes that were previously managed internally?  Will IT hear the cloud’s clarion call and transition to play a more ‘strategic’ part in the business or be relegated to an even more tactical role in the company?

With so many providers lining up with cheap and, in many cases, workable services that could supplant the IT organization, it is time technology administrators considered how to make the model work for them.  However, too many IT managers are missing the wave entirely. A recent Current Analysis survey of North American enterprises, “Enterprise Adoption of Cloud Applications and Services, June 2011” found 21% do not see the cloud having any impact on their role in the business.

This departure from reality could prove to be a costly one as providers up the ante with a slew of new features and pricing models. So what should an IT manager do to stay sane? The short answer is to find new ways to innovate using the cloud to deliver end user-centric services. With this in mind, an IT manager can expect not just to survive but to thrive.

About Amy Larsen DeCarlo
As Principal Analyst for Security and Data Center Services at Current Analysis, Amy assesses the managed IT services sector, with an emphasis on security and data center solutions delivered through the cloud including on demand application and managed storage offerings.

3 Responses to Role Reversal: Will the Cloud Transform the IT Department Right Out of a Job?

  1. hotdogneck says:

    It’s definitely something to keep an eye on for I.T. departments, but Cloud Computing isn’t going to just remove the need for Infrastructure departments. There still has to be a presence on site that manages everything the same way it is done today.

    The only real difference will be in hosting operations. Instead of hosting racks of servers on site, organizations that trust their information in The Cloud can farm out their server requirements.

    That gets rid of how many people? A Data Center Engineer maybe? And again, this is only for firms that feel comfortable with having ALL of their information on there on shared servers.

    The Cloud is great in theory, but just wait until a major compromise to sensitive data is made. It will put the brakes on the entire movement. It’s one thing to store your MP3’s out on The Cloud. It’s an entire new ballgame for firms to store their proprietary or customer data out there.

  2. These are all good points. There is no reason to think the cloud will completely replace the IT department. However, the cloud will impact the role on-site personnel play. There is a lot of vendor and service provider messaging around the cloud freeling up IT personnel to play a more strategic role in the business. Though there is definitely some spin to this, there is also truth in that IT will be able to focus on technology that is really core to business innovation. Also, with respect to your observation about danger in the cloud, IT will need to step in to help guide decisions about what data is appropriate for the cloud and which are better kept as part of internally managed workloads.

    There also is likely to be a reduction in the number of IT personnel supporting software delivered via the cloud (e.g. messaging/collaboration applications). In many cases, the staff reductions may actually preceed the cloud implementation.

  3. hotdogneck says:

    Excellent response – and that all definitely makes sense. Thanks!

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