The Cloud is Changing IT – and the Skills You Need

A few weeks ago we debated whether or not there’s still a place for the Chief Technology Officer in the increasingly cloud-based workplace universe. At the very least, his role will change significantly.

But that isn’t a bad thing, and in fact, as anyone who is in IT already knows, the department and its role within the enterprise is constantly evolving. So similarly to the CIO’s changing purpose, worries, and responsibilities, those of the larger IT department are changing yet again to adjust to the plethora of cloud services. Cloud services shift management of server workloads and other traditional IT responsibilities onto these outside vendors and third parties “who already have the skills to manage complex infrastructures at a cheaper price than paying for in-house IT department employees.”  On the surface, this might leave IT professionals fearful for their jobs.

But where there is technology, even among the most savvy, there is a need for support and implementation staff.

This article explains it well:

In the past changes to skills have still been based on the fundamental idea that implementing, maintaining and fixing software and hardware is the job of the in-house IT department. The cloud (in its purest form) takes away all that software and hardware, which means the IT department has to find a new role — as  Jerry Justice, IT director at SS&G Financial Services puts it: “IT staff are now advocates and aggregators of technology not support personnel.”

The IT department is already reflecting this in many agile software companies, like our own, that are seeking out the most efficient, cost-effective ways to do high-powered computing. Cloud computing is proving an attractive option. Those who were provisioning and administering these former services on-premise and simply adjusting once more, this time to a role of ensuring business needs and external vendors offering cloud services are matching up harmoniously.

Even the most gung-ho of businesses isn’t going to shift its entire technical infrastructure to the cloud — at least not yet — so that’s going to mean the best IT team is the adaptable one, with a mix of skills for the constant flux of systems, devices, and platforms they’re serving. And there are many industries, like healthcare, where a move to the cloud is still cost-prohibitive, and wracked with security issues. Those will take far longer to migrate, though security advances are bringing about change more rapidly than many could have predicted.

However, crucially, it won’t do for new professionals in the field to only  know how to deliver the cloud effectively. As a recent InfoWorld article says, if you don’t understand how cloud solutions interact with legacy systems and fundamentals of IT, your potential will be just as shaky as someone who has ignored the cloud for years. The key here is a healthy understanding of past and present technologies.

No matter what changes lay ahead, it is certain the best IT professionals and the strongest enterprise teams with be the ones most receptive to changing technologies, shifting roles within companies, and a hybrid management system — combining support for the people within organization, liaising for the cloud services they use, and servicing crucial legacy technologies.