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How The Cloud Is Redefining IT Skill Sets

Cloud Computing

Businesses that adopt cloud or ‘as-a-Service’ operational models have the opportunity to generate huge business growth by freeing their IT staff from the daily tasks associated with maintaining an on-premise infrastructure, allowing them to focus on innovative solutions to help grow the company. Transitioning from a legacy infrastructure to a cloud-based operational model unchains the IT team and frees them to implement technologies that will improve the company’s core product and customer service, which is a key strategy for scaling and growing in today’s cloud and technology environments.

For example, one of our customers previously had 10 people working on infrastructure management. He now has 10 people doing application development and working on the company’s core software. The shift has been transformational for the business. The company has made its IT team a strategic driver of growth by redirecting their work from infrastructure maintenance to business development. Through this redeployment of IT staff, the company has grown roughly 20 percent in four years.

Cloud technology offers tremendous opportunity for IT organizations, but it can also be a little daunting. IT leaders must ensure they and their teams have the right skills to pivot from maintaining an infrastructure to owning business growth objectives. Based on our experience helping IT leaders navigate these changes, we recommend following these three best practices:

  • Ensure your IT staff has an appreciation of the core business and its challenges.  Often, legacy IT departments see technology in a vacuum and do not appreciate the business impact – positive or negative – of that technology.
  • Provide training. IT personnel are quite adaptable, but will be unable to keep pace without an investment in training.  Most employees will not only welcome the professional development opportunity, but will feel reassured during this time of uncertainty.
  • Establish a collaborative culture.  Ensure there is a regular cadence of communication between IT staff and your business units.  Also ensure there is opportunity to engage with peers and partners to benefit from the collective experience.

Transitioning to a virtual infrastructure requires the right team 

Today, there is an important distinction to make between having a company’s IT team drive business growth and having an IT team actually build the company’s virtual infrastructure. The reality is that it’s quite challenging for corporate IT teams of any size to keep up with the pace of change around virtualization technologies simply because their plates are too full maintaining day-to-day operations. A cloud service provider whose sole focus is building and deploying virtual infrastructures will have a substantially better understanding of how to architect a cloud infrastructure than an in-house team can hope to have.

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If a company does plan to build a virtual infrastructure in-house, it will need to build a cloud team within the IT department. Because the level of sophistication of these jobs is increasing, deploying a cloud infrastructure simply cannot be someone’s part time job. To successfully execute an in-house deployment, a business needs to take into consideration the fact that it will be supporting two IT departments – one to build its cloud infrastructure and a second one to support its legacy systems.

Moving skills out of IT silos and into business impact

Cloud computing by its very nature is a cross-discipline practice. Through working with hundreds of companies to implement cloud solutions, we’ve learned that the traditional model of IT verticals where network, systems, applications and storage are walled into silos impedes the development of successful cloud computing systems. Businesses will have to break out of these silos to implement and sustain virtual infrastructures, and must require that all of these units become integrated and work together. IT teams and individuals committed to driving growth will mirror this organizational shift and develop a multi-disciplinary skill set.

Cloud computing presents vast opportunities for businesses and IT teams. When a business transitions from a legacy infrastructure to a cloud system, its IT staff is able to focus on developing and improving their core business. This shift can involve some level of uncertainty for the IT team, so  executives should ensure training is available so their employees have the skills necessary to leverage the innovations made available through cloud computing. IT and business leaders should structure the organization to minimize silos and maximize multi-discipline projects and organizational models. These steps will go a long way in helping businesses maximize the growth available through cloud computing.

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