To what extent do IT skills have to change in the cloud?

Balancing the demands for driving innovation and improving efficiency is no small task; however, the cloud has offered a route for IT departments to achieve these objectives, whilst keeping a lid on costs.

At the same time, as the cloud is a relatively new technology, it is creating processes which require new sets of skills across all areas of IT: that is, to understand not only the technical aspects of the cloud model selected - be it IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) PaaS, (Platform as a Service), SaaS (Software as a Service) – but also whether a public or private cloud infrastructure deployment option is chosen, and also the management issues involved in cloud delivery and governance.

This evolution means that the scale of new skills required is now larger than anything the industry has ever experienced and therefore, budgets, resources and time need to be assigned to ensure that migration to the cloud is a smooth one. For in-house IT departments, the emphasis has shifted towards managing relationships with third party providers; negotiating contracts and defining SLAs to ensure that the required service levels are delivered.

One of the key benefits of the cloud is that it now enables CIOs and IT departments to play a more strategic role. This means working more closely with the business to help achieve overall objectives, whilst freeing up capability and budget to focus on the areas of business that need most attention.

This is true to some extent, although I'd argue that this is a role that IT departments should always have had and the CIO's that exemplify best practice in the set up and running of their IT departments will already have taken on this role; but in many cases, CIOs simply have never had the time. The difference with the cloud is that, unless the organisation opts for a self-managed cloud solution, IT departments are 'freed' from many of the day to day tasks which previously took up so much of their resources.

The management and operational changes that the cloud creates will mean that, at all levels, from CIOs to IT operational staff, skill sets will need to adapt accordingly. This is where the role of the cloud broker and managed service providers specialising in the cloud can remove much of the burden, as they can effectively provide many of the required skills for successful cloud adoption.

Furthermore, choosing a Managed Service Provider who is focussed on business outcomes and establishing a real partnering relationship with its clients should enable organisations to leverage the full extent of the service provider's expertise and experience to obtain objective advice and guidance which they can trust regarding other areas that are not covered by their own in-house skills including Cloud Consultancy, Cloud Transition, Migration and Capacity Planning.

Clive Grayson is an experienced IT executive with a background in business development, strategy, consultancy and professional services. As Director of Service Strategy at Business Critical IT company Attenda, he is responsible for the company’s service and product strategy.

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