Weekly Update

Why we are moving to a cloud-centric organization

There seems to be a need to recast IT organizations in the shadow of cloud computing.  This need comes from existing organizations that deploy cloud-based platforms, and quickly find out that the organization is not setup to take full advantage of emerging cloud-based platforms.

So, what’s changed?  The way we consume platform, infrastructure, and application services, for a start.  In a traditional IT organization, there is a larger focus on operations and traditional development approaches than when public cloud platforms are around to provide these services on demand.

Specifically, IT has a few new things to deal with, including:

New focus on a consumption-based model.  We need to manage who consumes cloud services versus who needs to buy hardware and software.  Actually, purchasing hardware and software is an easier process to monitor, given that we’re dealing with real hardware and software that is purchased with real money.  This is in contrast to cloud services that are typically consumed without much monitoring or governance in place.

This leads to the need to add a position in the organization that is responsible for monitoring cloud consumption.  This includes use authorization, setting limits on consumption, and even predicting consumption patterns into the future.

New focus on DevOps.  There needs to be a DevOps manager to make sure things function well.  DevOps means tighter links with operations on the developer side of the house, including support for the continuous delivery of code for cloud-based applications, as well as continuous integration.

The governance and operations management that has to occur forces the organization to change around these processes, obtaining additional skill sets and creating new position.  As you can see in Figure 1 (source: Indeed.com), the numbers of job postings that ask for DevOps skills have grown significantly in the last several years.

cloud org 1

New focus on cloud operations.  You don’t operate a cloud, or a set of clouds, the same way you operate a data center.  Take infrastructure, for instance, such as storage compute services, the path to operations and the processes that need to be in place are very different from that of traditional data center-based infrastructure management.

Operating clouds means managing the provisioning and de-provisioning of cloud services, which is typically done from a CMP (cloud management platform) console.  In the traditional world, this was done by screwing servers into racks.  Which do you think is easier?  As you can see by Figure 2, the numbers of job postings that use the term “cloud operations” grew significantly as well.

Cloud org 2

Changing approaches to business continuity.  Many organizations are moving away from a traditional model to a cloud-based business continuity and disaster recovery model.  Where hard backup centers were the role in the past, the use of cloud providers make those old approaches obsolete, and the new ones much more cost effective.  However, it takes skills that are very different from the traditional approaches, and requires an expert knowledge of cloud providers.  For instance, how do we manage archiving, file recovery, business system redundancy, etc.?       Thus, we have a need for this role in the cloud-centric organization.

Changing approaches to security and governance.  Cloud-based platforms are typically service- or API-oriented.  Thus they are governed as the service layer, no longer at the user interface or at the database.  Service-based governance skills and roles should be part of the organization.

Security is changing around identity-based security approaches, and security technology is becoming available that is a much better fit for organizations that leverage cloud.  Thus, the traditional approaches to security, and the skills required to support them, are no longer indicated for the cloud-centric organization.  Moreover, the organization should be vigilant about how these security solutions are carried out, and restrictive with new roles and responsibilities.

The need to support the new function of cloud performance management.  This is the ability to monitor and manage cloud performance to meet the needs of the business, as well as align the systems to established SLAs.  Monitoring approaches and technology needs to be in place that can deal with any performance issues that may arise.  Figure 3 depicts the growth of job postings calling for cloud performance skills.

Cloud org 3

What surprised me about the rise of the cloud-centric organization is the speed with which the changes occurred, and, in the IT organizations I’ve been in contact with, how well the changes were accepted.  From the press rumblings of just a few years ago, you would have thought that cloud would turn IT organizations upside down.  IT organizations have changed, that’s for sure, but the changes have been largely for the good.