By Paul Moxon, Senior Director, Product & Solutions Marketing
When the cloud becomes the primary operating model for the enterprise, the IT department’s role will change. It will no longer be a systems administrator, an arbiter of what the enterprise can and cannot have. Instead, it’ll be a service administrator, an agent who is there to help users get the most out of their cloud-based applications.
First, IT will need to change its view of security. Traditionally, IT has owned security and acted as the guardian of data and systems access. But with the move to the cloud, most security will be provided by the cloud provider, which means IT will have to act as a liaison between the business units (BUs) and the cloud provider, helping the former understand the security model of the latter, and helping the latter build a security model which takes the former’s particular needs into account.
Next, IT will need to reposition itself as a trusted advisor. In a stark reversal of the traditional view of IT as an inhibitor of productivity, IT will now be viewed as an agent who works in the best interests of the business units, as the business units will be free to choose the cloud-based applications they wish to use without consulting IT. Rather than heavy-handedly dictate which applications the BUs can and can’t use, IT will be tasked to passively suggest best practices for the BUs, and do everything in its power to ensure their success.
Further, IT will need to reconsider its key internal processes, things like helpdesks, support policies, and support procedures. Today, those processes are based on the premise that all processes are on-premise and within IT’s control. But with a third-party cloud provider involved, IT will find that there are limits to what it can do, that their existing model won’t necessarily accommodate cloud-based systems and applications. It will be imperative, then, for IT to fully own its role as a service administrator. Failing that, the BUs will be apt to bypass IT whenever they have a technical issue and instead go straight to the cloud provider, and IT will lose even more control.
Finally, IT will need to switch its thinking from “maintenance mode” to “strategic mode.” Today, some 80 percent of IT’s resources are focused on systems maintenance — merely keeping things up and running. But when the cloud becomes the primary operating model for the enterprise, and maintenance falls squarely on the shoulders of the cloud-service provider, IT will have the time to change their reputation in the organization. They should determine which critical business initiatives they can support, consider how emerging technologies can benefit the enterprise, and take this opportunity to become more proactive and less reactive.
Of course, some applications will likely never move to the cloud. When it comes to those applications, IT’s role will remain unchanged. For example, a trading algorithm at a Financial Services company — a proprietary application with high intellectual-property value — may simply be too integral to the value of the enterprise to ever comfortably host off-premise.
But most applications will find a home in the cloud, and it’s up to today’s IT departments to anticipate the coming paradigm shift and embrace the opportunities it will create for them, not the least of which will be the chance to gain a reputation for facilitating productivity and lose the reputation for inhibiting it.