Cloud Requires a New IT Employee to Manage Business Services
July 26, 2011

Russell Rothstein
IT Central Station

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In today’s economy with sluggish job creation, there’s much talk about the change in skills required in today’s workforce. Drill down into the world of IT operations management, and there is an even greater shift happening, related not to the economy, but to cloud computing. The rapid adoption of private cloud architectures is creating ripple effects, not only on the way IT delivers services to its customers, but also on the types of skills IT requires to support these new architectures.

Cloud computing is heralding the most significant shift in IT skill sets since we displaced the armies of punch card operators with the IBM 3270. Cloud is a realization of utility computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand. As Gartner says in a recent report, private cloud services “will require a cultural and political change inside of IT to see the role of operations move to being more proactive — requiring predefined policies, service levels and automated actions to take on the runtime environment, as opposed to the manual initiation of scripts or workflows. This requires very different skills over time — a shift away from rote work toward more planning, service analysis and a better understanding of service users in order to continually improve how the service is ultimately delivered.” (Source: Gartner “Key Considerations in the Development of a Private Cloud Architecture”).

The key phrase used by Gartner is that IT personnel will require “a better understanding of service users”, which means a better understanding of the business which is what’s driving the users to consume those IT services. In essence, cloud will necessitate IT to be more business focused. We have been talking about Business/IT alignment for too long now without sufficient progress; with the emergence of cloud models, this is no longer a choice – either IT upgrades to a business-centric service delivery function, or is ultimately to be replaced by outsourced cloud service providers that can provide utility computing services with greater cost efficiencies. That’s why Business Service Management must be at the center of your cloud management capabilities, in order to effectively plan for and manage cloud services from a business perspective.

To close up, it’s interesting to understand the new roles in IT that Gartner sees as emerging in order to support the delivery of new private cloud services:

  • Cloud service architect (new role): Designs and documents the end-to-end cloud platform
  • Portal developer: Develops interfaces that cloud consumers use to requisition services
  • Workflow specialist: Defines requirements for instantiating automated processes
  • Configuration management specialist: Develops consistent packaging and policy-conflict-free service deployment methods

We trust you are already filling these roles in your IT organization. And while these may not be the best job in the world, they most certainly beat a career as a roustabout.

Russell Rothstein is Founder and CEO, IT Central Station.

Russell Rothstein is founder and CEO of IT Central Station, a social networking site for IT professionals that includes user reviews of APM and other products. Russell has spoken on APM at industry events including Interop, CMG, and CloudConnect. Russell was previously Vice President of Product Marketing at OpTier, a leader in application performance management (APM). Before joining OpTier, Russell was AVP Product Marketing at OPNET Technologies (Nasdaq: OPNT) where he helped lead the company's focus into APM. He was co-founder and CEO of Zettapoint (acquired by EMC) and co-founder of Web 1.0 startup Open Sesame (acquired by Bowne RR Donnelly). Russell began his career at Oracle, deploying Oracle Applications for Fortune 1000 companies. Russell received a BA in Computer Science from Harvard University, an MS in Technology and Policy from MIT and an MS in Management from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Follow Russell on twitter at @RussRothsteinIT.
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