The cloud represents change to the enterprise, and not everyone is welcoming to change all the time. But in order to gauge the cloud’s impact on IT, it helps to know exactly what is changing, and in what direction. CDW’s latest State of the Cloud Report, for example, finds that, like mobile technology, users’ personal experience with the cloud is informing their decisions at work. As the firm’s Stephen Braat notes, IT should continue to thrive in the cloud era, but will act more as a service broker rather than a director of infrastructure.
With Stephen Braat, general manager, cloud solutions, CDW.
Cole: CDW just issued its latest State of the Cloud Report. What were the most interesting findings?
Braat: There are at least two, the first being that cloud computing has become mainstream, as more than half of all organizations represented told us that they are at least planning to shift specific capabilities to the cloud, if not already piloting, migrating or already there. Beyond that, we found that experience with consumer cloud services is positively influencing IT professionals and the users they serve alike.
As well, two-thirds of IT professionals said that personal cloud use influenced their recommendations about cloud at work and also accelerated organizational adoption. Finally, non-IT management’s playing a bigger role in cloud computing decisions than it did in traditional IT.
Cole: Should traditional IT feel threatened by the cloud in any way, particularly now that infrastructure and application decisions are being made by business units and even individuals?
Braat: No, there is more opportunity than threat for IT in the cloud. Certainly, cloud-based solutions make technology readily accessible to non-IT professionals who are ‘self-directed’ and willing to pay monthly subscription fees, but traditional IT’s role in delivering technology services is just as vital as when it was designing, building and running the portfolio or capital assets under management.
Technologists are now uniquely positioned to add value by delivering category and solution expertise, as well as brokering solutions in the cloud. IT professionals who embrace this expanded role will continue to be regarded as strategic enablers whose fulfillment methods — whether cloud-based or on-premises — satisfy the financial, performance and security demands of the business.
Cole: Are there applications/environments that will function more comfortably in the cloud as opposed to traditional infrastructure?
Braat: The categories of technology currently adopted in the cloud are vast. Firms are increasingly reliant on the cloud to power solutions ranging from office productivity and unified communications to servers and storage to application building — all of which function very well in the cloud. As such, these types and characteristics of the functionality are not determining factors for an organization’s cloud decision. Instead, cloud’s service proposition hinges on an organization’s affinity for opex, on-demand consumption and elasticity. If those commercial attributes are appealing to a firm, then cloud might make sense over traditional infrastructure.