As we all know, the traditional way of building an IT environment is to buy servers, hardware, and licenses and install the software. This is a long and costly process, involving many infrastructure demands and long deployment cycles. This fully internal IT model may be commonplace, but IT as we know it today is being replaced by newer technologies.
Cloud computing is causing a major shift in the IT industry. New technologies have been developed providing, among other things, various ways to virtualize IT systems and to access needed IT resources on the Internet. This means no IT costs for hardware or servers.
This utility-based and service-oriented IT model is no longer a plain hardware or software market. Currently, vendors can offer email apps, production systems, security options, and storage and backup services, to name just a few of the IT components that can be moved to the cloud.
But how do software developers and IT decision makers adjust themselves to this trend? How is the traditional IT industry affected by these newer available technologies?
- IT job requirements are changing as new skills and specialties are increasingly demanded. Before moving to the cloud, the IT staff will need to fully understand the advantages of cloud computing and how it can be integrated into the current business model. Issues such as security and maintenance should be discussed upfront with the cloud computing vendors, and also a good IT department will have to oversee the migration and the ongoing relationship with the cloud provider.
- The IT infrastructure will be crucially changed as more applications are being moved to private or public clouds. Software developers will have to adjust the ways they create and deliver applications.
- The need for IT support staff is reduced, thus diminishing the cost with desktop support. However, a new need has been created to train the employees to work with and understand the new systems and applications.
- The effort to maintain data is also diminished. However, moving data to the cloud equates losing its physical control, as it is stored in the vendor’s data center. Although clients might not be comfortable with this fact, they should understand that data in the cloud can be safer than in-house. This brings us to our next point.
- Security is often high on the list o concerns of IT professionals looking at cloud migrations. Enterprise cloud providers that offer a managed cloud solution have security experts on staff managing the applications, with security options included. A best-practice method is to store the data in more facilities to make sure it is safe. I believe this is better than do-it-yourself.
- Software customization is often another concern. Most of the software that companies use is not “cloud-ready”. This is where the software developers intervene by creating code especially designed for the cloud. Also, cloud providers should put forth their best effort to make this transition easy. However, once the applications are SaaS, the need for the IT department troubleshooting decreases.
I have always said that cloud computing is about shifting the interest from physical resources (IT resources and capital expenses) to efficiency and utility. In the end, cloud computing allows companies to focus on doing what they know best, and not on spending a lot of money and time on IT processes. I believe that the companies which fail to adjust to this trend are going to face serious economic and business disadvantages.