Is Your IT Team Prepared for Public Cloud?

May 05, 2016

Contributor: Susan Moore

Public cloud adoption challenges in-house IT teams and requires a shift in thinking.

Public cloud services are an inextricable part of how enterprises are responding to the digital economy. They are adopting public cloud services to gain agility, enter a new market or try a new idea without too much capital investment. They may also adopt these services for the opportunity to create a business model based on application programming interfaces (APIs).

According to Gartner forecasts, spending on cloud services is growing more than five times faster than overall IT spending.

The adoption of public cloud services impacts most aspects of IT, from the vendors and service providers to in-house IT organizations harnessing the technology to create value for their enterprises.

“ The arrival of public cloud services does not mean that in-house IT is going away any time soon.”

Andy Rowsell-Jones, research vice president at Gartner, said cloud is changing the supply model from a high degree of control by in-house IT to a more arm’s length relationship with a vendor supplying a standardised service to the market as a whole. This transition subjects the in-house IT team to unfamiliar stresses and strains.

“The arrival of public cloud services does not mean that in-house IT is going away any time soon,” said Mr. Rowsell-Jones. “However, it does demand changes to IT governance and new roles and structures. Different skills are required.”

IT must shift from valuing hands-on technical work to valuing, and being able to execute on, service management. As a result, the IT organization itself can become more service-oriented.

Adapt the structure of IT

The first shift often involves a convergence of job families. When dedicated IT teams focus separately on computing, storage and networks, silos are providing the services. Now, the CIO may want a single supplier management function overseeing services sourced from a public cloud supplier. Given this, what type of people are best for the job?

A financial services sector CIO told Gartner, “We’re looking for people with a somewhat higher EQ (emotional quotient) and an ability to manage change — people who are a little less linear and black and white in their thinking.”

Increasing the structural maturity of IT to prepare for cloud requires action in two domains:

  1. Management. Set up a public cloud advisory function to mediate between business units and cloud service providers.
  2. Operations. Beef up vendor management, introducing tools to model the impacts of service failure, supported by a steering committee that governs key public cloud adoption decisions.

Adjust key IT roles

As enterprise adoption of public cloud services shifts IT from traditional hands-on technical skills to management planning, orchestration and control, CIOs must invest in retraining their team in areas including:

  • Change management. IT leaders need to help both IT and other stakeholders cope with the shift to public cloud.
  • Business relationship management. IT must be more consultative with their business peers, embedding themselves earlier in the decision process.
  • Operations management. Public cloud forces a repositioning of data center skills, from managing service elements directly to managing the hosted data center.
  • Security. The risk profile of cloud differs from that of in-house IT. In addition to mastering the technical aspects, IT must liaison with audit, both inside the enterprise and with customers using the enterprise’s services.

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