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Cloud: Threat and Opportunity to your IT Organization

Part 1: Technology is about people, not things.

For over three years our company has been on the phone, in the field, tweeting, blogging, presenting, and talking to anyone who will listen about how Cloud is the standard that is going to shake IT service delivery to its core, and why all organizations will ultimately (at least in part) choose the Cloud model over the legacy Client/Server model.

In the beginning computing in the Cloud sounded a lot like ‘pie in the sky’ theory. Since then, market forces (including a recession), rapid technological advancement, and the continued commoditization of IT over the past three years have proven we were right.

More than ever, organizations are asking themselves, “What business are we in?” For the most part, the answer has nothing to do with datacenter management or server support.

The Cloud provides a unique opportunity for organizations to re-focus on core competencies, or to work on building strategic advantages over the competition: being good at Patch Tuesday does not give you this. Worse, it detracts from it. And our clients are realizing this more and more.

Today, when we speak to organizations about the Cloud, there is no longer so much a question of “if.” For the majority of organizations, only three questions remain:

1. When are we going to move our existing systems, and which move first?
2. Onto which platform do we move?
3. Who’s going to help us get there?

Seems like a great victory for Cloud Computing and a big blow to the ‘server huggers’ of the old guard. We’ve now reached a level of awareness and recognition we had only hoped for back in late 2006, when our Cloud journey began.

But somehow I don’t rejoice.

I think about all of the IT professionals out there who have built their careers on gaining expertise, certifications, and experience on the less and less important Client/Server model. These are good people; people with families, responsibilities. What will become of them and their careers?

 

The truth is both harsh and evident: As an IT professional, if you’ve build a career on things like “data backup,” “antispam / antivirus,” “patching,” etc. the demand for your skills will decline exponentially over the next five years. There is already less and less glory to be had in what we’ve been doing up until now. Years ago, if you were able to recover data you were thought of as a hero; today, NOT being able to recover data may get you fired.

Focus on “keeping the lights on” was not something we chose, it was a factor of the previous paradigm. Gartner may have put it best: $8 out of $10 spent in IT add no business value:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cloud changes this. It makes “uptime” a given, which frees up people and resources and, unfortunately, leaves some people in IT with nothing to do.

 

What this trend enlightens us to is something we’ve always known, but may have lost sight of:


Technology is about people, not things.

It’s not about is “system X” working or not working? Is it up, or is it down? It’s about “how are our people using system X to maximize business value for our organization?”

Interestingly, this affects both IT solutions providers like SADA, and internal IT organizations in the same way. Herein lies the opportunity. What can the IT and systems engineers of today do, if they are no longer worrying about “uptime?”

One of SADA’s clients, Mattson Technology, is setting a new standard. After moving to Google Apps, the systems engineers who previously spent their full time managing and maintaining their email systems are now doing something radical:

They are talking to, observing, and seeking to understand how their people use technology.

With each key observation, they are going back and putting new effort into re-engineering processes, and building value-added customizations that provide needed tools to their people. This is the type of skill that IT professionals of the future must master. If they do, it will ensure employ-ability and relevance for years to come.

The reality is most of today’s engineers don’t have these skills. To these engineers we recommend that it’s never too early to start training, cross-training, and developing your resources to meet the IT needs of tomorrow. Make the natural shift from “keeping the lights on” to “adding business value.” The shift is to a higher place in the value chain; it’s simply worth more in the marketplace.

To be continued…

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