Cloud computing is often talked about as a technology that will make IT departments obsolete as companies look to outsource their computing needs. This analysis misses the complexity of what’s actually happening in IT departments.
What’s actually happening is Cloud technologies are running in conjunction with on-premise systems and many company companies are choosing to run and maintain their own servers–even if they have a few Cloud applications up and running. This adds a layer of complexity to effectively managing the IT needs of an organization.
Rather than eliminating the role of IT professionals, the Cloud is changing the skill set and job functions expected of the IT department. In my view, there are five new skills that IT professionals will need for a career in the Cloud.
1. Become A Strategic Partner of Business
The idea of IT becoming a “strategic partner” of business has been tossed around quite a bit. In the world of Cloud technologies, I think this requires being versed with the full range of Cloud solutions on the market when performing an ERP software comparison–and being able to communicate how deploying these technologies impacts the range of C-level priorities.
Understanding the technical features and benefits of various technologies is something most IT professionals are already doing. The new challenge (and skill ) for IT will be addressing the C-suite with their own vocabulary and navigating a department where technology expertise varies widely. For instance, the CIO may be convinced that everything is ready to move to the Cloud while the CFO may have lingering security concerns about putting financial information outside company firewalls. Being able to address these viewpoints in business terms will be essential.
2. Learn How to Code and Develop
In a recent conversation with Ben Kepes, Principal Analyst at Diversity Limited, Kepes noted that the division between development and systems operations is blurring. Why? As he explains, “today’s modern platforms are sufficiently robust and self-contained” so that deploying and maintaining an application is much simpler these days.
For the IT community, this means an increased demand for individuals that can code, develop and deploy their own applications. This is a real area of opportunity for IT professionals because there are so many new applications to be built for businesses and a real void of next-gen development talent. Capitalizing on this demand will require knowledge of Cloud platforms such as Force.com and Microsoft Azure. Additionally, it’s important to know popular programming languages such as PHP, Ruby, JAVA or .NET.
3. Learn Cloud Integration Technologies
In addition to understanding how to develop Cloud applications, IT professionals also must understand how to connect them and manage information flow. Deep knowledge of Cloud-to-Cloud integration as well as Cloud to on-premise integration technologies is necessary.
IT professionals should be familiar with third-party Cloud-based integration services such as Boomi and Informatica as well as integration appliances like Cast Iron. Of course, these third-party tools aren’t always sufficient for the task at hand. For this reason, it’s helpful to know how to build custom integrations using SOAP, RESTful APIs and custom integration servers.
4. Understand Enterprise Mobile Security
The proliferation of smart phones and the increasing number of companies that allow ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) creates a significant need for IT professionals that understand how to manage mobile security. While the industry is leaning toward OAuth certification standards, there is no accepted standard for managing mobile security. This means that IT professionals will be expected to stay on the cusp of emerging security technologies that manage permissions and access from work and personal mobile devices.
5. Obtain a Cloud Certification from One or More Providers
The last area that I believe the IT community should focus on is vetting their Cloud skill set. While this isn’t a particular skill, certifications carry weight in the IT world. There are many providers currently offering certification. Amazon, Salesforce, Rackspace, CompTia and others all offer varying types of Cloud certifications.
Obtaining Cloud certification will help with marketability as Cloud skills are sought after by companies. Right now, I think there’s significant opportunity to capitalize on current demand since individuals with Cloud skills are in short supply.
The demand for these kinds of skills will only grow as companies continue to increase their investments in Cloud computing and develop an increasingly complex ecosystem of applications. Since these skills are in short supply, the IT community would be wise to ready themselves for the Cloud market, which Forrester predicts will be valued at $241 billion by 2020. These kinds of growth projections suggest that the opportunities won’t be limited to internal IT departments, but also within ERP software companies themselves. In my view, IT professionals that obtain this new skill set will position themselves for a thriving career in the Cloud era.