Integration Skills at Heart of the Cloud

Susan Hall

We've heard a lot about the increasing role of IT in innovation and driving business growth. As InformationWeek says of IT pros of the future, as companies move more of their software to the cloud:

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They'll need to be better business problem solvers, like Salesforce.com specialists who sit with marketing teams and cook up new ways to use that software to help them. They'll need to be big picture thinkers, like someone who anticipates how executives might make better use of an iPhone, rather than someone who just knows how to get corporate email onto the device. And they'll need to be first-rate program managers, people who can drive projects to the finish, not just take orders and knock out the technical piece of it.

Panelists at a session on cloud computing at Wired magazine's CIO Leadership Forum in New York this week agreed that the cloud will call for new skills beyond a focus on security and operational efficiency.


Bob Kelly, a Microsoft vice president for server and cloud platform marketing, cited a need for more people to tie different cloud services together and back to in-house systems. He told Computerworld:

Most of the work going forward will be integration, and architectural in nature. There will be a need for people in all levels who are thinking about a composite world. You have to think about how parts fit, which is an architectural mindset. ...

As Informatica's vice president for cloud marketing, Darren Cunningham, told our Loraine Lawson in an interview:

Where we have seen the most success is where IT is involved early and where integration is considered very early as opposed to let's get up and running and we'll think about integration in phase two or phase three.

Loraine's been on top of this topic, with posts on the importance of cloud integration and the work involved. David Linthicum has proposed this formula for the skills required: cloud architect = enterprise architect + SOA architect + cloud technologist. He says of that role:

... the cloud architect needs to be an expert in the existing cloud computing technology: public, private, and hybrid, including IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. You can't build something unless you understand the tools and raw materials that are available, and the same goes for bringing cloud computing technology into the enterprise to form solutions.

Our Mike Vizard described the stakes this way:

Done right, cloud computing will allow IT organizations to recast the role they play within their organization. Rather than being a hindrance, cloud computing provides the IT organization with a framework through which the business can integrate data at will. In the context of business, information is power. Ultimately, it's the job of the IT department to give business executives all the power they need to effect change as rapidly as possible, which is a role that ... the next generation of IT leaders is more than eager to play.

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