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How to structure your IT team for the Cloud

Moving to the cloud requires new skills inside of an organization, the IT team of an organization of the future will focus more on consulting and guiding the business in technology decisions than on building or even running IT.

The new reality — the need for speed plus a tech-savvy workforce, IT services is becoming shared responsibility between the business and between the IT organization. As business users increasingly need to do their jobs, IT will act as guides for these business people to make sure the technology the business is building is secure and scalable.

Business managers might as well go out to the cloud to grab the services and deploy and even maintain the services they need, but they won’t do it without IT people being involved, IT project managers will not be running one project at a time but overseeing numerous projects simultaneously.

When considering what skills are needed to thrive in the cloud, new roles being:

Cloud architect – has an understanding of enterprise architecture, SOA, and the new directions that cloud computing can take both of those disciplines. The cloud architect is a jack-of-all-trades, but master of cloud and have a detailed knowledge of PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS, including the players and solutions that are available on the market.

Cloud security specialist – is perhaps the most important role and skillset to understand the new security models and enabling security technology relocate core business processes and data to private, public, or hybrid clouds. Core skills here are an understanding of what changes with regards to cloud security issues and understand newer security models and technologies, such as federated identity management and the ability to support data encryption both in flight and at rest in and between clouds.

Cloud developer – core skills are an understanding of core PaaS platforms, private or public, and how applications are designed, developed, and deployed on those platforms. This is a creative and innovative position. They work with cloud computing by leveraging free trial accounts to create applications on their own time. While that may seems scary to you, those are the types of developers you want on your side.

Cloud infrastructure manager – Cloud computing requires special attention to networking and remote or local server monitoring. Skills required here would be knowledge of existing network, application, and database management approaches and technologies, and a deep knowledge of the cloud providers and/or technology you’re leveraging. I would suggest you target those better infrastructure managers in your IT organization and retrain them.

Provider specialist – is the person who understands the details around the cloud providers you’re leveraging—public, private, or hybrid. This means that his or her skills are all about being the go-to person in terms of questions that need to be answered and problems solved around a specific provider.

Bottom line

The success of the IT organization of the future — at least at global companies — will depend on pushing the IT services to be centralized, and the IT roles needed to support the unique qualities of each geographical region of business.

The transformation of IT organizations from technology-doers to expert guides is an important step, the IT team needs to be organized more as a consulting team than a builder’ team. Getting to this point there need to be a change in the business’s perception of IT as a service, the main focus initially for the IT organization, is to educate the business on the complexity of the IT infrastructure required to support the business — and how that differs fundamentally from the type of consumer IT purchased at Media Markt.

One way to go about getting the business units aligned is to set up “sandbox environments” for proofs of concept, building architectures that support cloud and mobile apps, and allowing business areas to self-provision iPads and iPhones.

However, many companies have difficulty understanding exactly what those skills are, the scope required, and the timing. There are several ways this can play out. Many companies take the position that cloud computing is much the same as traditional computing, and that their existing teams and skillsets will suffice. That’s a huge mistake. Others will rapidly retrain their existing staff to the use of the cloud.

The bottom line is that IT roles skillsets always changing to support IT, the use of cloud computing is not much different. What is new is the degree of change that needs to occur in a relatively short period of time. Leveraging cloud computing to the fullest is all about the talent you have around you. Investing in training, consulting and mentoring will be the way to go.

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