Gartner to IT: Get a grip on cloud services, or else


A new list of cloud computing trends shows just how nervous the growing use of cloud services makes IT departments.

It’s easy to see why. IT staffs used to hold the keys to the kingdom — controlling what applications and data ran where and on what devices. That’s all changed — a lot — with the consumerization of IT and the advent of compute power that in-house developers can spin up on Amazon Web Services and pay for out of petty cash — without IT approval. Ditto the departmental use of easy-to-expense software-as-a-service applications. All of that erodes the power of IT folks.

Gartner, the big researcher, says it’s high time for IT to grab the bull by the horns, according to a list of 5 cloud computing trends released Monday.

For one thing,  Gartner sees a growing need for what it calls cloud services brokerages (CSBs) — a new breed of middlemen that sit between the corporate users of cloud computing services and the cloud vendors themselves.  These brokers would vet and/or approve cloud services before they get deployed.

According to Gartner:

Gartner believes that IT departments should explore how they can position themselves as CSBs to the enterprise by establishing a purchasing process that accommodates cloud adoption and encourages business unit to come to the IT organization for advice and support. The enterprise CSB approach can be implemented by modifying existing processes ad tools such as internal portals and service catalogs.

Forward-looking IT departments are already positioning themselves as facilitators of new-and-improved services to their end-user business units. (For more on this, see GigaOM Pro–subscription required.)  For IT to retain its grip, it has to be seen as a solution provider, not a department whose default position is to shoot down requested services.

Companies also need to establish “formal decision frameworks” to make the best possible cloud decisions, Gartner said.

While cloud computing’s ability to shift IT spending from capital expenditure to the more palatable operational expenditure, it should also be used to raise the lowest common denominator of IT services. IT resources should be used for “higher-value-added” activities for the business and to support innovation — not just to keep servers running and the lights on. Global systems integrators are also positioning themselves to take on this role.

IT departments are clearly on notice here. Recent Microsoft-funded research by IDC showed that the use of cloud computing will result in millions of new jobs in the next five years. That’s the good news. The bad news for IT is that whatever job growth there is will not come in IT. The automation that cloud computing provides will take on more of what traditional IT departments have done in the past so smart IT people need to get better acquainted with the services they can provide to their in-house end users, aka customers.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Maurizio Zanetti

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