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The sky is falling, the sky is falling, and the cloud is ‘gonna’ kill my job.

Rparker on ‎12-03-2013 11:00 AM

Guest Blog by:  William Dupley, HP Enterprise Group Chief Technologist


Over the past few years I’ve been involved in the IT modernization and transformation of more than forty companies and governments worldwide and I’ve never seen a time when fear has been so prevalent in the IT community.  There seems to be the unreasonable belief that because the cloud is coming, my job will go away.  Nothing is further from the truth.


Cloud services, both private and public do in fact reduce provisioning, maintenance and administrative work, but companies have focused on eliminating this work for years.  The ratio of maintenance and administration to innovation labor has decreased as companies move to a more pervasive use of automation technology and introduce quality improvement programs like Six Sigma and Lean.  This however, does not equate to an elimination of jobs in IT, on the contrary there is an explosion of work in the innovation arena.


There’s also a false belief that everything will move to public cloud services; this also is not happening.  The recent Coleman Parkes report on how IT services are actually delivered in companies today, and how they expect to be delivered in 2016 provided some enlightening insights.  The report was based on 550 telephone interviews with business and IT executives from all over the world.  The results stated that currently, about 15% of IT services are being delivered from public cloud services and 28% are delivered from traditional IT.  The rest were being delivered from a private cloud solution, either managed by IT or managed by another private company.


The Parkes report stated an intriguing fact: public cloud services are not growing at a very fast rate.  In fact in 2016 it is expected that services delivered from the public cloud will still be about 15%.  They do predict an increase in private cloud adoption and a drop in traditional IT.  


I am not surprised at this.  In additional reports I’ve noticed that cloud computing seems to be entering the trough of disillusionment.  The fact that cloud computing has entered this stage is a natural step in the acceptance of a new technology.  It demonstrates that companies are now starting to really understand the heavy lifting that is required to make this new technology truly work in their environment.


So what are the issues and how can we as IT professionals help?


There are three 800 pound gorillas that need to be addressed when companies are considering implementing a hybrid cloud solution.  Now when I say hybrid cloud I mean much more than just infrastructure as a service, I mean the building of an integrated application ecosystem like the integration of Sales into the back office systems of a company.


  1. The first gorilla deals with the need for a security gateway.  Some popular cloud service providers do not support a dedicated VPN connection which has been the historic way of facilitating B2B integration, so an additional security gateway needs to be added.

  2. The second gorilla deals with the fact that as an IT organization, we are still accountable for disaster recovery and must protect our company if the cloud service provider fails.  Therefore we must arrange for the cloud service provider to publish back to our company an archived copy of the all the data on a regular basis so we can restore service somewhere else if they fail.

  3. The third gorilla deals with record retention policy enforcement.  In most companies IT must enable record retention policy enforcement, so this again requires a cloud service provider to publish record information back to the company so it can facilitate record retention.


These facts illustrate that the new work of IT is all in hybrid cloud integration and this is all innovation work.  It’s true that the old work of Patch Tuesday, and San, Server, LAN and database provisioning is quickly being eliminated by both private and public cloud services, but change has always been a part of our industry.  With 35 years in the IT industry I’ll be the first to admit to having retired many skills I used in the past.  I no longer develop software in Fortran, HPL, Basic, CPM, or DOS.  I no longer need my Motorola 6809 assembler skills, they are long gone, and so will much of the current provisioning work that we do now, but that does not mean that jobs are going away, they are just changing, and we need to rapidly pick up the new skills required in order to fulfill the new roles in our companies. 


There are four new roles that companies will need IT professionals to fulfill – or need to evolve the skill sets of current professionals.

  1. Help them clearly understand the business value of new technologies  we must use business terms like revenue growth, operating margin improvement, asset efficiency, and increasing market expectations when we relate the benefits of a new technology

  2. Become an advisor to show them how other companies are creatively using new technologies like big data and cloud services to achieve their business goals.  

  3. Be the trusted information source on what cloud services are available, and what they can do.  We need to change our enterprise architecture to include cloud services and become solution assemblers versus solution developers.

  4. Become the conscience of the company not the enforcer.  It is my experience that business units do not want to willfully compromise the security of the company; they just don’t always know the impact of their decisions.  


This all requires embracing the era of convergence with modern and new solutions, and new work and new skills. In essence, it requires IT move from “infrastructure integrators” to “infrastructure innovators and business service experts”. I believe it is a great time to be in IT. We are moving into a new era of innovation and we can lead our firms and governments in prosperity if we embrace the new roles and the new work that the new style of IT demands.





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