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Analyzing the Impact of Cloud Computing on the IT Department

Organizations that opt to utilize cloud services may choose to go “all the way” on the cloud

Modern innovations in networking technology, virtualization, Big Data processing, storage, and analysis, along with cloud computing, are giving new shape to the information technology realm of today and the future.

Organizations have, for many years, effectively sourced a number of non-core business functions to outside service providers.

Marketing, accounting, customer service, sales and administrative staffing are just a few examples of such outsourcing; today, organizations can also get computing services on demand in virtually any location, and tailor those services to their specific needs. Such "micro outsourcing" can apply to functions such as processing, storage, software, security, and support.

Organizations that opt to utilize cloud services may choose to go "all the way" on the cloud, or only source some business functions such as marketing and sales funnels, tech support, or customer relationship management, to name a just a few, while keeping others in-house with on-premise solutions.

Given the cost of ownership implications of on-premise solutions for information technology and organizational processes, in conjunction with Big Data and its impact on everything from marketing to disaster response, it's almost impossible for organizations to avoid sourcing at least some portion of business functionality to cloud-based solutions.

In a paper recently presented by the Association of Information Technology Professionals, John McDonald, CEO of Cloud One, said, cloud computing is really "all about economics." Efficiency in resources and skills, along with collaboration on a global scale, means huge savings for organizations, many of which are migrating toward cloud computing out of the sheer necessity to compete.

As organizations move away from old school, inflexible methods, toward the benefits of the on-demand, customizable resources that come with cloud computing, the cloud revolution continues to compel the evolution of IT departments; architecture, control processes, security, staffing, specialized knowledge, and software needs are all required to advance and develop.

In the past, computing infrastructure parameters were determined by analyzing the anticipated peak load of an organization's data needs. By attempting to anticipate the maximum level of potential need, and hoarding enough capacity to meet the demand should it arise, IT departments inevitably created an IT infrastructure that was either short of capacity, or resulted in extreme waste, especially with regard to tasks that held cyclical usage patterns.

Likewise, data centers demanded the need for additional office space, special construction with raised floors, patch panels, server racks, cabling, cooling equipment, temperature alarms, energy consumption, stringent security protocols, and more.

Today, CIOs can give more thought to function than form, leaving those kinds of logistics and expenses to outside service providers.

With regard to professional skill specialization, the need for construction and maintenance of computing centers or resources is, though not entirely defunct, arguably no longer a core competency.

As organizations move toward SaaS supplier relationships that offer resources in a cloud-based environment, IT professionals, who once specialized in the maintenance of data centers and on-premise solutions, find themselves at a professional hurdle; those who wish to advance in their field, or even stay in the game, must place the continuation of their education high on their list of priorities.

Top skills and industry knowledge that IT professionals may need to develop are data mining, data security, data analysis, service-oriented architecture (SOA) system administration, cloud architecture, artificial intelligence, and Platform as a Service (PaaS) design and implementation, as well as systems and platform knowledge around Hadoop, Java, NoSQL, SQL and C++.

In addition to the traditional realm of computing knowledge, IT pros must also expand their understanding of business function and strategy, as these aspects of enterprise are becoming increasingly influenced by Big Data, thus blurring the lines between the traditional responsibilities of the individuals that comprise the C- suite.

The bottom line: IT professionals are increasingly apt to find themselves spending more time in the boardroom than they do in the data center, an entity that could very well become atypical in an organizational campus.

More Stories By Ophir Shalitin

Ophir Shalitin is the VP of Marketing at SysAid Technologies, a provider of IT Service Management solutions deployed at over 100,000 companies around the world. SysAid integrates all essential IT tools into one service desk.

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