Adjusting IT for Cloud Computing

June 19, 2012 at 08:00 AM

Cloud Computing is not just a paradigm shift for infrastructure. IT operations, accounting and even staffing structure need to be updated to effectively harness the benefits.

In a previous article I illustrated deploying a multi-terrabyte RAID array in the cloud. That takes just a few minutes these days but it used to take most organizations over a month to provision that much storage through their IT channel. Moving to cloud will allow organizations to reduce and potentially eliminate IT staffing around procurement.

From an accounting standpoint, most IT departments are structured and budgeted around a list of services that they provide: server provisioning, incident management, resource monitoring, web support, database support, and infrastructure. These services to the business typically get rolled up into infrastructure OPEX. Actual integration support is often missed in terms of process, time planning, and accounting.

While some roles can be eliminated, there are new roles that need to be filled. As it gets easier to deploy into the cloud, it is important to put process and authority checks in place to avoid cost overruns and "server creep". Easy deployment allows IT operations to put more focus into integration support. This has given rise to the "DevOps" movement:

In computing, "DevOps" is an emerging set of principles, methods and practices for communication, collaboration and integration between software development (application/software engineering) and IT Operations (systems administration/infrastructure) professionals. It has developed in response to the emerging understanding of the interdependence and importance of both the development and operations disciplines in meeting an organization's goal of rapidly producing software products and services.
~ Wikipedia

Operating successfully in this new environment means adding integration support roles that focus on the interoperability between the infrastructure and applications, both during development and ongoing support. IT staffing needs to shift from hardware support to overall platform management and analysis, taking a consultative approach in building environments in which the organization's products can thrive. This requires gaining understanding and supporting the ecosystem of the business, which for some may require a different skill set than what they have currently.

Adopting a model of having dedicated integration support staff and infrastructure support staff will bring transparency to the true operating costs of the product or application. This increased visibility will allow for better planning for IT decision makers.

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