An organization’s decision to move services into the public cloud will have an impact on the IT department, but the level of impact will vary depending on exactly how the organization chooses to accomplish the transition.
Dipping your toes into the cloud
If your organization is just dipping its toes into the cloud paradigm, the impact on your staff will be relatively minimal, but they will still be affected. Your staff will need to learn the ins and outs of managing the transferred services and will need to gain an understanding for how the selected cloud provider manages security and availability to ensure that the service availability meets organizational needs. This may mean learning about how a provider’s different zones work with one another and now applications between zones interoperate.
An all virtual machine cloud environment
A move into the cloud can be as simple as just running all of your virtual machines inside Azure virtual machines. In a case like this, your IT still will need to learn about the various virtual machine creation options they have at their disposal as well as about Azure’s virtual networks (which enable virtual machines to talk to one another), endpoints (which enable Internet access to Azure-based virtual machines) and all of the other items that comprise the service. Of course, there’s more to the cloud than Azure, but there will still be a learning curve, regardless of which provider is selected.
From a skill set perspective, this kind of move will have an impact, but if you already have people well-versed in all things virtual, the impact should be negligible. However, by eliminating virtual machines in the data center, an organization may find themselves able to reduce technical staff and replace those skills with more business-focused technical skills, which can have a positive impact on time to market for new ventures.
It’s already tough to integrate local applications with one another, but as you begin to move services into the cloud. IT staff will need to learn how to easily integrate these services with local applications. Most applications aren’t standalone. At the very least, various business processes will need to be reconsidered as organizations move services into the cloud. For example, identity management systems needs to be extended to encompass new platforms.
No matter what, a move to the cloud will force your IT staff to pick up contract management skills in some way. With services running in someone else’s environment, your staff will be at the mercy of that provider. Rather than being able to directly fix issues themselves, they will need to partner with your provider to resolve problems.
Scale brings challenges and opportunity
Perhaps most importantly, as organizations build applications at “cloud scale” they gain the ability to access what amounts to unlimited computing power. Business applications can now leverage massive computing resources that weren’t available in house. Developers may not be prepared for this reality and may not have the knowledge to leverage this kind of computing power. It means accessing and using data in ways that may not have been possible before. As cloud applications are able to scale to higher levels, developers need to be able to imagine what is possible with that kind of scale and translate that into a usable product or application.
Remember also that a migration of infrastructure into the cloud could provide an opportunity to redirect skill sets toward more business-facing outcomes. There could be rising expectations inside the organization to move in this direction.
Action Item: The skills that your team currently has aren’t useless in the cloud era. However, they do need to be extended to include the challenges and opportunities that present themselves with cloud services.