The Cloud Does Not Eliminate the Need for IT

cloud computingA misconception we frequently see is that somehow “The Cloud” will solve all IT business requirements and eliminate the need for IT support personnel. This is untrue and is in fact a dangerous mode of thinking for business of any size.  The Cloud does not eliminate the need for IT.

“The Cloud” is a newer marketing term that essentially means the same thing as “hosted software and services.” This means software that is installed and runs on a web server managed by another party.  Traditionally, software has all been installed locally “on premise” – on workstations and laptops and local physical servers.

With cheaper computing resources and faster Internet connections, it’s now feasible for companies to reduce the time and effort needed to install and maintain some core IT business applications by using a cloud service provider.

But moving core IT applications to the Cloud doesn’t eliminate the need for IT staff; it simply changes the IT management landscape.

Transitioning to cloud-based services should move IT support and management staff/resources away from fixing and administering internal pieces of hardware and software to managing network infrastructure, managing business data and designing IT-business strategies.

Before the Cloud, IT systems and staff tended to:

  • Have static, inflexible, top-down network organization

Internal systems were deployed in a specific configuration and run for five years (or more) before they were retired and replaced with new systems.

  • Use on-premise data storage

Nearly all business data was stored on-premise which means all data had to be secured and backed up by IT staff.

  • Spend lots of time fixing physical computer problems

Laptops, workstations and servers used to be fairly unreliable. Hardware (hard drives, power supplies) failed often. Many IT departments simply treaded water, running around putting out fires all day.  There was no time for strategy or data management.

With Cloud-based services, IT staff is shifting towards:

  • Designing redundant Internet infrastructures & managing / monitoring traffic

It is absolutely essential that Internet links are reliable when depending on Cloud services for critical business functions.  This increases the complexity of business networks and requires more oversight.

  • Supporting access to cloud applications on a variety of devices (PC/Mac/Phone/Tablet)

People now expect to be able to access critical business data from any device – whether it’s owned and controlled by the company or not.  IT needs to consider this.

  • Keeping IT resources documented and secured

Tracking myriad cloud resources, vendors, SLAs and support contacts is the responsibility of IT.

  • Tracking the movement of important business data through cloud systems and ensuring the right people have access to it

Security and compliance becomes much more challenging when business data lives offsite!

  • Securing and backing up business data wherever it lies

Just because the cloud provider says they will protect the data doesn’t mean IT isn’t still ultimately responsible for ensuring there’s a backup copy elsewhere.

  • Enabling and deploying new systems to get more value out of business data as it lies in the cloud

IT’s true value in any organization is making sure the organization is getting real value out of their IT resources.  Designing systems that help an organization be more productive and more effectively address their clients’ needs is the end goal of any effective IT support organization.