A new Gartner list of cloud computing trends shows how nervous the burgeoning use of cloud makes IT departments, which traditionally controlled what applications and data ran and on what devices. That’s all changed and now IT has to change too.


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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  1. See the self-serving aspects of Gartner’s report here.

    “need to establish “formal decision frameworks” to make the best possible cloud decisions”

    Guess who is going to provide these decision frameworks to IT departments?

    Barb, next time you write these, please add some of your critical thinking, instead of repeating things verbatim.

    1. i guess i figured that Gartner’s self interest was clear. but you’re right, a pointer would be helpful as in guess what Gartner sells? IT consulting to IT departments!

      1. Huh!? Firstly because firms like Gartner etc provide IT consulting to IT departments, hence they can see trends closely and analyse better. Also, this talks about downsizing of the IT department – if it was self interest alone, then why would they publicise something that kills their golden goose. If that was the case, then I would come up with a report that allows IT department to deal with cloud and protect their jobs.
        The cloud effectively puts control (of usage) into the hands of business users who so far have been charged arbitrarily by IT department for computing usage (because there is no other model to divvy the charge – not malicious). The pay per use model will charge business IT usage like any utility bill would. In such a case, a formal decision framework will need to be established to “buy” computing usage. You seem to assume above that the decision framework can only be done by IT and that too only with Gartner’s help. To that, I ask you to consider the following – today the business users already have decision making frameworks in place to buy their supporting consumables i.e. paper, electricity, clips, pens and pencils, water, etc etc. It is called the Procurement Department – which can very well extend it’s repertoire to “buy” computing usage as well.

  2. Bill Cornell Monday, April 2, 2012

    “Forward-looking IT departments…”

    Oxymoron alert!

    1. I so agree – I have abandoned my IT career and have become an entrepreneur, partly because nobody expects an IT leader to be an innovator. They actually expect you to be a politician / bureaucrat / staller / union man. Then the IT folks wonder why everyone hates them

  3. Ever notice how IT is a favorite target of media articles? It’s because traditionally most of the tech spending has gone through IT. The media analysts want it taken out of the hands of people whose core competency is to procure, have experience at this very task, and put it into the hands of people who don’t have mindset for it and can be easily manipulated. This is a media war that IT people are too busy to fight and don’t have any way of fighting. Gartner’s agenda is pretty obvious.

    1. Some of the message gets diluted but the fact is, cloud is the new delivery model for IT. This isn’t a war on IT, it’s just an evolution. Between you and me there are SAP and Oracle guys who say “pshhh cloud whatever.” Those guys are too busy to fight. They will lose their job.

      1. Depends on what your critical infrastructure is supporting and what you are doing on it. No trend just another market, they ALL have their inefficiencies…trust me I work for a bunch of hackers.

    2. sorry, but I agree that IT departments need to have their monopoly dissolved. They are risk averse, bureaucratic, unimaginative, and resistant to progress. Most companies will be better off with their IT team gone

  4. Marilyn Evabs Monday, April 2, 2012

    Oh dear .. the late 80s » early 90s saw us face the same dilemma. Minis & PCs gave business the opportunity to go it alone & fire the internal IT dept., which charged well but treated them like mushrooms !!
    While IT depts. remained in denial for years companies such as IBM seized the day creating IBM GSC; GMH IT became such a successful company that EDS bought them out & small software houses .. many still in business .. found their start-up opportunities.
    It was only the ability to network PCs & thus re-exercise control, that enabled the return of IT depts.
    Are we going to repeat the ostritch trick so soon or are we going to learn how to provide Customer Service ??

  5. Awesome point of view.

    The transition of power (knowledge and accessibility) to the business is inevitable. They need the technology to solve Business issues. Look at spread sheet. How much of every day business computing was done in spread sheet? Would you like to be the IT person who insisted that all calculation needs to be done by IT?

    How long do you think that person lasted in the business would?

    IT should help Business follow established SOA standard to integrate in cloud as they should helped them writing better formulas. (My apology on my grammar since english is my second language)

  6. It is interesting how we, the IT community have allowed technology advances to influence the business so strongly and so directly. If we look across to the old CMMI there is a danger that just as we were approaching that 4th level of a managed system, another apparent technological boost allows the business to take us back to level 1 or below. Gartner’s point is valid that the business needs more advice but it is us that must integrate better to the business and the executive so that they have clear advice and guidance.

    Conscious of the various arguments and opinions about the ‘cloud’, a cynic might say that it is external suppliers driving straight into the business because they are an easier target for a direct sell than the IT dept. We as organizations should be looking to protect ourselves from that or at suggested earlier we’ll be back in the mini days!

  7. Richard Kaminski Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    Yes, it is comming. Major players in cloud technology will select the internal hardware and become advisors as to what software companies should purchase to run their businesses. IT departments will shrink and things will run much more smoothly. There will always be a need for programmers and business analysts – but that need will be at the cloud consulting companies who will supply those specific talent sets to their clients and integrate the resulting enhancements into their base software offerings.

  8. comparethecloud Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    I can only base this result on solid facts. Out of a sample of 100 companies accessing my website http://www.comparethecloud.net in January the initial enquiry always come from the CEO or managing director level rather than dedicated IT staff. This is a trend that will continue as the market drivers are targeted towards the business rather than the IT function.

  9. Jeffery Schulte Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    As a small IT company providing custom cloud solutions, we have had great success in supplying an integrated approach to our cloud service. It is true that many of our clients reflect this sentiment at first…

    “cloud computing trends shows just how nervous the growing use of cloud services makes IT departments.”

    However, after we show them that we are a compliment to their efforts, e.g. hosted DR and business continuity services, onsite remote management, and hosted managed services. They realize that this frees them up to spend more time on innovations within their respected companies and less time on administration.

    As a smaller provider we can take our clients to our ‘cloud’ and show them the physical equipment they will utilize.

    This takes all the mystery out of it, and allows everyone to optimize using the right combinations of services that ultimately make not only the company better off, but IT staff too.

  10. Bruce Culver Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    IT can play a great role in embracing Cloud capabilities. The biggest hurdle for IT regards to “embracing” is the speed aspect of the Cloud. We are no longer in the SAP / ORACLE world of 24 months to implement and scores of consultants. Your CEO needs the advantages faster and cheaper. SAP and ORACLE can’t deliver on those two counts.

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