The discussion around cloud adoption is a unique one depending on which audience you are addressing. From a high-level, C-level executives are excited about the business transformation possibilities, but as you go further and further down the organization, especially into the IT departments, there is a different type of attitude. Many IT professionals (both infrastructure and security) view cloud as hype that is designed to either make their lives more difficult or will render them obsolete. This isn’t the first time we saw significant change. Remember the mainframe transition? But the great thing about cloud is that it’s not designed to streamline IT inefficiencies from a role perspective, it’s meant to do more with less. IT professionals need to see that cloud gives them the chance to learn new technologies and become experts in a fast-moving market that will rely heavily on those who can adopt these new skills the quickest.
Forrester analyst James Staten who studies the cloud market believes that the largest hurdle for organizations to overcome towards cloud adoption is the dramatic shift in culture of the IT department. In particular, the fear of being outsourced to cloud providers has created a culture of what Staten calls “server huggers”, IT professionals who resist cloud deployments. The problem is that in order to maximize the benefits of cloud adoption, unless the expertise exists in-house to transition and maintain all aspects of the cloud environment (including infrastructure, application development and deployment and security), we are going to see the need for an increased adoption of cloud services which allow organizations to utilize the expertise of the cloud provider. This is reminiscent of when organizations started leveraging managed security service providers to manage their security postures and IT security professionals started to feel that if their organizations might outsource their roles. But it’s not just the management level that is putting pressure on organizations to rethink cloud adoption, the C level is reliant upon their in-house experts to help them make the case for transition to a cloud model, which is the same group whom is at the heart of the outsourcing debate.
But the key to remember when transitioning to an outsourcing model is that there will be a need to manage these new extensions of the internal IT teams. Managers will now be involved in not just managing their own teams, but managing the outsourcing partners. This is where we will see a large amount of emphasis placed on integration between external and internal resources, and IT teams can outsource the responsibilities for resource maintenance which creates a significant amount of time. This frees up these teams to provide more significant contributions to the organization in deployment of next generation services and transitioning the business from a legacy IT framework to a more efficient model involving cloud environments.
Cloud doesn’t mean that IT teams are going to start losing their jobs, in fact, the move to cloud is seeing a significant number of new roles being created. This includes roles such as cloud architect, security specialist, developer, and infrastructure manager. But more importantly, we will see an increased requirement for developers who can create applications which run in the cloud and specialists who can work with large amounts of information spread across multiple sources (even across multiple geographic locations). This is an opportune time for IT and security professionals to take stock and explore new careers in cloud environments while this new global refresh is happening. As the cloud continues to evolve, there is no end to what kind of roles will be required to maintain this new global infrastructure.