Click to learn more about author Lex Boost.
Examining the changing role of today’s IT teams and their members.
For many organizations, migrating to the cloud begins and ends with the decision to move data from some or all of their servers offsite, leverage a third-party data center, and connect back to their premises over a secure, reliable and high-speed WAN.
For others, that’s just the beginning of the journey. An increasing number of organizations have adopted managed services covering network and IT infrastructure management, cyber security, and disaster recovery. Some even select a cloud hosting company to deliver a bare metal boost to their network processing speed.
This enables them to process and analyze critical Big Data trends amongst their customer base. Given the range and scope of hosted options available, it’s no wonder Gartner estimates that spending on public cloud services is expected to hit $214.3 billion by 2022.
Regardless of where an organization falls within the spectrum of cloud adoption, one thing is for sure; cloud adoption will cause an inevitable shift in IT strategy that, in turn, will alter IT team roles, responsibilities and standing.
A Brave New World
One of the first changes that IT teams will notice is that they are no longer directly in charge of so many day-to-day sysadmin tasks. It’s also unlikely that they will have hands-on responsibility for the majority of the data center/server maintenance tasks. In the early days of cloud adoption, these were worrying issues for IT teams as they were unsure what their new roles would be and concerned that efficiencies in the cloud would lead to job reductions on the ground.
Inevitably, this was the case in some organizations, and, in many cases, remains true today. However, for more enlightened management teams, cloud deployment doesn’t mean an automatic cut in on-site IT team resources, but a move towards more intelligent use of in-house skills and a more efficient, proactive and responsive IT team.
With a cloud hosting company in place, IT team members move from network administrators to network managers almost overnight. The best cloud hosting companies will offer initial training to help with this transition, and, as part of their service, provide on-going help desk support to team members.
Nevertheless, it’s good practice for organizations to consider training requirements ahead of any new IT infrastructure deployment projects—and cloud hosting is no exception.
Automating for Efficiency
Going forward, IT teams will undoubtedly spend a more substantial proportion of their day managing and monitoring their hosted services. Many of the time-consuming, manual sysadmin tasks, such as maintaining network health and performance, rolling out anti-virus and patch updates, and running manual back-up and restores, will be delegated to the new cloud hosting company too—and, at that point, will doubtless become automated processes.
IT team members won’t, of course, give up all responsibilities for these critical network management tasks. Instead, they will work closely with cloud providers to ensure smooth, round-the-clock operations. That’s why it is vital to select a trusted cloud hosting company that will grow with your organization over the long term and has the flexibility to adapt to changing business needs.
In principle, at least, IT teams with support from cloud hosting companies should be able to move away from a reactive, firefighting stance. Instead, IT teams, with cloud hosting company support, can take a more proactive approach with a fully developed, long-term IT system management strategy in place.
A Change in Perception
If interpreted correctly, the data available to IT teams from cloud hosting application telemetry should help anticipate future resource allocation needs and keep the network running smoothly. Cloud hosting companies will also be able to provide IT teams with an agile response when requests are made for additional network resources. Hosted solutions allow IT teams to scale quickly and efficiently, so this strategy will also improve the standing of IT teams and help colleagues see even more of their ‘can do’ attitude.
IT teams can propel this change in perception by taking a page out of their cloud hosting provider’s book and reposition their department in terms of service provision—setting clear customer service standards, targets and metrics. This game plan, in turn, will raise their profile amongst senior management, and greatly assist when it comes to requests for further internal and external resources in the future.
IT teams using cloud-based services are very likely to see an increase in data flowing over their networks as their organizations take outsourced, super-charged network hardware and connectivity to enter the world of big data analytics. They will be the gatekeepers of this data flow, so their visibility, influence and engagement with colleagues will change accordingly.
At the same time, IT personnel should expect to work more closely with sales, marketing, and product development teams as the data they produce becomes increasingly relevant and sought-after across the company.
Core IT system performance and utilization data are critical to the success of an organization’s growth and achievement. They are also invaluable in terms of planning, budgeting and future resource allocation. The best cloud hosting companies excel in providing solutions that are easy to interpret and present at management meetings. In this way, cloud hosting companies can support their clients when they need data to back up their future spend requests or evolving IT strategy.
Today, cloud hosting company reputations stand or fall based on customer service standards—not just their roster of technology and vendor partnerships. From what we’ve reviewed here in terms of the close relationship they need to have with client IT teams—that’s not surprising. To keep up, cloud hosting companies will have to deliver solutions that allow their clients to reach and maintain their full potential. With that in mind, the best cloud hosting companies are always looking to develop long-term relationships with their clients so that they can help them grow—and, in turn, grow with them.