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Cloud Computing and the Changing Role of IT

By John Dixon, Consulting Architect, LogicsOne

On Tuesday April 29th, I participated in another tweetchat hosted by Cloud Commons. As usual, it was an hour of rapid fire conversation and discussion amongst some really smart people. This time, the topic was based around “cloud computing and the changing role of IT,” and there were some great takeaways from the dialogue.  Below are the six questions that were asked during the chat as well as a quick summary of my thoughts and the thoughts of the group as a whole.

  1. How is cloud computing changing the role of IT?
  2. Besides cloud, what other trends are influential in changing the role of IT?
  3. What steps should the IT department take to become a trusted advisor to the business?
  4. How should the IT department engage with the business on cloud purchases?
  5. Should the IT department make reining in rogue cloud services a top priority?
  6. How can the CIO promote innovation in the era of lower IT spending?

Question 1: How is cloud computing changing the role of IT?

  • The main point I wanted to get across in question one was that corporate IT is no longer just a provider of technology, but, rather, they are a provider of IT services.
  • IT needs to be relevant to the business. They can do this by developing valuable service products
  • IT now needs to be extremely proactive. No more sitting around waiting for something to go wrong… instead get out in front of demands from the business – understand the business’s specific issues, and proactively evaluate emerging technology that may be of benefit
  • All in all, I’d say most of the group was on the same page for this answer


Question 2: Besides cloud, what other trends are influential in changing the role of IT?

  • The most popular answers from participants were: big data, analytics, virtualization, mobility, BYOD, and DevOps. It seemed like every answer had at least one of these included in it.
  • A couple others I threw out were distributed workforce and telecommuters, social media, and the overall increased reliance on IT for everything


Question 3: What steps should the IT department take to become a trusted advisor to the business?

  • The key here is that IT should not try to ALIGN to the business’s demands…IT should PARTNER with the business
  • Another point I brought up was that IT needs to show the business that IT is another provider in a competitive market – corporate IT needs to shows that they deliver more value than alternative providers. After giving this answer, I got a couple questions wondering why IT should compete with 3rd parties rather than leverage them? My point was that cloud opens up competition in the market for IT services and that the business now has a choice of where and how to procure services. At this point, it’s a reality; corporate IT is just another competitor in a cloud world.
  • A great answer from Jackie Kahle (@jackiekahle) was to tell the business something they don’t know about their customers by providing data-driven insights. In her opinion, and I agree, this will encourage the business to turn to corporate IT more often.
  • Another good answer from George Hulme (@georgevhulme) was to give users and the business viable alternatives with clear risk/reward/benefits delineated.


Question 4: How should the IT department engage with the business on cloud purchases?

  • My first answer was that IT should source their products and services with the “provider of best fit.” I got the following reply: “that implies choosing best of breed vs. integrated. Cloud practically makes best of breed a foregone conclusion.” The point I was trying to make, and the answer I provided, was that there are varying levels of cloud providers out there so IT departments still need to choose wisely.
  • Andi Mann (@AndiMann) suggested departments need to honestly evaluate their own ability to deliver. He stated in-house IT is not always best and that organizations need to proactively look for cloud to do better. Again, a point I agreed with.


Question 5: Should the IT department make reining in rogue cloud services a top priority?

  • No! Enable and harness their creativity by asking them to use a cloud portal sponsored by corporate IT!
  • IT should treat the business like a customer.
  • The majority of the group agreed that embracing rogue IT was the correct strategy here…not attempting to rein it in.


Question 6: How can the CIO promote innovation in the era of lower IT spending?

  • Ah, the CIO’s favorite saying…”Doing more with less”
  • Provide a means for “safe” Rogue IT (more on that in my summary)
  • Another concept that was echoed by some members of the chat was the idea of adopting a fail-fast culture. Cloud can enable faster deployments, which allows you to try more things quickly, and if you do fail, you can move on. This increases the pace of innovation by enabling the business to take on more “risky” projects – the software development projects that are great ideas but may not have a clear ROI.


My summary

Especially during the past year, in tweet chats and various other forums, consensus on the use and benefits of cloud computing is gaining unanimity. The most significant points:

  • Corporate IT should be a provider of whole IT services “products” and not just technology – and cloud computing can enable this
  • Cloud opens up the business to a competitive market for IT services, of which traditional corporate IT is only one option (thus the role of corporate IT evolves from technology center to order-taker to broker of services)
  • Rogue IT is not necessarily a bad thing; some of the best solutions may come out of rogue projects


GreenPages has been having internal discussions and discussions with customers around the concepts highlighted in this tweet chat for some time now.  Because of where the market is heading (as voiced by the thought leaders who took part in this chat) we have developed our Cloud Management as a Service (CMaaS) offering. The product addresses the top issues that are now coming to light – transforming corporate IT into a provider in a competitive market, allowing for a safe place to innovate without being encumbered by policy and process (addressing rogue IT), and going a step further, enabling consistent management across cloud environments. The premise behind CMaaS is to turn the cloud inside out – to manage your internal environment as if it was already deployed in a cloud environment. Glance at this whitepaper I wrote about the concepts behind cloud management as a service, and let me know what you think. I’d be very interested to hear people’s takes on whether or not a product like this can address some of the needs in the marketplace today.

If you would like to learn more about CMaaS, fill out this form and someone will be in touch with you shortly.

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