Cloud A-Z Part 7: 3 challenges of doing business in the cloud

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The key to succeeding in business is to evolve with the times; which, in this day and age, means migrating to the cloud. Obviously, when moving from traditional IT to cloud computing, the mostly heavily impacted team is IT and the opportunity for them is extensive, if handled properly. Three areas must be considered in order to have the best chance at successfully doing business in the cloud:

  1. Plan for shifting IT responsibilities
  2. Professional development
  3. Hiring and keeping cloud professionals

If you keep these three areas in mind as you counsel your customers in their cloud migration, you will help them be successful and validate your role as their trusted cloud advisor.

1. Plan for Shifting IT Responsibilities

Migrating operations to the cloud is likely to affect the day-to-day functions of IT personnel, moving them away from tactical and requiring a more strategic outlook focused on how IT can add value to the company within the new paradigm. This will create holes in the department and require new skills from those within the business unit.
The IT department may want to handle this themselves, but it would be within the company’s best interests to bring Human Resources into the mix. HR is more capable in identifying new roles that will be created, as well as roles that are likely to be reduced or eliminated. In some cases, an existing team member may be groomed for a new role, which brings us to the next section.

2. Professional Development

A plethora of new skills will be required, but they can be roughly grouped into three broad categories:

  • Vendor Relationships: Outsourcing has been a mainstay of business for decades – one that IT has been taking advantage of for years – so there is nothing new here. What is new is the type of outsourcing and the number of vendors involved. There is a real opportunity here for IT personnel who are more interested in the business side of the industry to expand their skills and focus on making a smooth transition from hands-on tactical side to a role that has a higher business focus and value. HR can help provide resources for this growth.
  • New Technologies: IT staff who are more focused on hands-on and not as interested in the business side of the discipline may feel there are no opportunities for them, but this is not true. The different applications still need to be “glued” together, so there is a lot of opportunity in Application Programming Interface (API) development. There are also opportunities for cloud computing monitoring and control. Learning these skills is a little more informal, often dependent on blogs and attending events, so HR may need to adjust their expectations to a more flexible style of professional development.
  • Strategic Business Skills: The advent of cloud computing into a business will allow IT to move from being perceived as only a cost center to becoming a value-adding department that is actively involved in increasing revenue, decreasing costs, delivering solutions and providing other bottom-line benefits. Again, HR can help here. One way might be to team up IT staff with team members who have a more strategic focus. In the event internal resources are not available to fill a cloud-computing role, it will be time to look externally, which brings us to our next focus: hiring and keeping cloud professionals.

3. Hiring and Keeping Cloud Professionals

Like any newly developing technology, there is currently a lack of formal qualifications and a relatively narrow talent pool to draw from. These are two serious challenges to hiring the right people for the right jobs in an IT department that has been impacted by a business’s move to the cloud, but there are two ways around this.

  • Lack of Formal Qualifications: There are alternative ways to assess a candidate’s suitability other than formal qualifications. There is an abundance of cloud communities built by practitioners focused on exchanging information, best practices, and thought leadership. Look into the candidate’s involvement on these sites. That should provide some insight into how engaged and experienced he or she is.
  • Narrow Talent Pool: Until cloud computing becomes a mainstay of the tech industry, practitioners will be scarce and large companies or agencies will likely have recruited the ones who are active and well known. Organizations may be best served to recruit less-experienced cloud professionals or IT professionals that appear to have an aptitude for and an interest in the cloud and the associated skills, and then groom them for the role.

Summary

Although finding and keeping cloud professionals, or grooming current IT staff for cloud, will be a challenge, it will be well worth the effort. If management looks at these challenges as opportunities and uses them to build a more highly skilled workforce focused on adding value to the business, they’ll be one step ahead as cloud computing becomes the more prevalent, and eventually the default, way to deliver computing resources to end-users.

Contact Us

If you have additional questions about these challenges or would like more information on Arrow’s cloud services, contact ECSCloudServices@arrow.com or call 1.877.558.6677.

 Did You Miss Any of Our Other Articles in the A-Z Series?

Abstracted from Rackspace’s “Running a Business in the Cloud.”
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Last modified: November 16, 2016