It is abundantly clear that 2015 will see continued migration of enterprise workloads to the cloud, and increasingly those workloads will be of the mission-critical type.
This means that organizations will have to start exerting greater control over their cloud infrastructure which, in an ironic twist, will require greater participation from IT as opposed to the brush-off it has been getting from cloud users so far.
According to Skyhigh, Navisite and other cloud brokerage services, demand for consumer-class clouds like Dropbox and collaborative platforms like Facebook will accelerate unabated in the coming year, but so will the enterprise’s trust in infrastructure as a service, particularly for popular applications like the virtual desktop and data mobility. And as experience with public services grows, so too will the realization that security and availability are no worse than what is provided by in-house infrastructure, despite the high-profile outages that make headlines.
For IT then, the time is right to ramp up cloud-ready skills, says Computerworld’s Sharon Gaudin. Whether the goal is to foster increased use of public, private or hybrid clouds, the increased prevalence of mission-critical data and applications means IT needs to become active in the decision-making process when it comes to designing, building, provisioning and managing cloud-based infrastructure and architectures. This is not likely to be an easy or welcome change for many users who have grown comfortable creating their own data environments, but it is vital if the enterprise has any hope of maintaining the integrity of its most valued data sets.
But don’t make the mistake of simply shutting the door to self-service in the cloud, says Tal Klein, vice president of strategy at cloud specialist Adallom. Rather than increasing risk, it turns out that shadow IT actually increases IT expertise throughout the organization because it demonstrates to users the importance of IT as a critical factor in the business process. The key will be to discourage the single rogue user who spins up all manner of unsanctioned services while supporting enterprise capabilities that allow greater leeway in the cloud without sacrificing IT’s ability to maintain ultimate control.
There are three ways to accomplish this, says IT consultant Scott Koegler. First, employ robust automation to take on repetitive tasks, and then assign less important functions to key teams that can accomplish them quickly. Secondly, it is important for IT to establish a solid foundation of trust with various business groups to undo the attitude that IT is an inhibitor to the business process rather than an asset. And finally, IT must engage corporate entities across the board to determine ways in which the new cloud-facing IT department can enhance the work environment. Note that the only technology factor here is automation – the rest comes from a shift in attitude.
Of course, technology changes from year to year while individual habits can be hard to break. The cloud is an institutional change, and as such will benefit some to the detriment of others. IT’s job in all of this is not to make everyone happy, but to ensure that business activity becomes more efficient and more effective as the competitive landscape continues its massive transformation.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata, Carpathia and NetMagic.