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The Impact of Cloud on IT

March 06, 2018 | Ken Leoni

Cloud is perhaps one of the most disruptive technologies to impact IT in some time - requiring a fundamental change in mindset.  Cloud adoption not only effects the size and scope of on-premises and cloud IT resources, but it also impacts the IT organization itself.  On-premises IT is forced to realign priorities as well as adjust to understanding, managing, and effectively leveraging cloud technologies. Cloud also causes IT to interact with its customers differently.

 

IT Resources Must Be Realigned when implementing CloudIT Resources Must Be Realigned

Cloud was originally thought to mark the demise or at the very least the reduction in the need for on-premises IT – and nothing could be further from the truth.  One could easily argue that on-premises IT requires an even more active role with cloud.


Administering cloud resources is not a simple task, even though cloud abstracts the underlying IT infrastructure, it can be complex especially given the dizzying array of services that cloud providers offer. Often cloud services not only interact with each other, but with on-premises resources and applications.

Integrating multiple cloud environments presents and even bigger challenge because it requires the integration of potentially disparate cloud resources as well as the optimizing of applications to make sure they can effectively operate across several infrastructures.


Cloud forces IT to realign and broaden the required skill sets beyond managing on-premises resources towards those required for hybrid / public cloud and the associated applications and services.


 


Engagement In All Things Cloud – Migration to cloud requires a methodical approach as organizations must ensure that cloud services are functioning at agreed upon SLAs and within the expected costs.

The variable cost structure associated with cloud mandates that IT be closely engaged throughout all phases of cloud deployments. Mistakes can be expensive, both in terms of lost productivity as well as the unexpected charges associated with the inefficient use of cloud resources.

 


Cloud adoption should be an iterative process where IT works hand-in-hand with key sponsors. A slow-as-you-go approach that starts with “crawling before walking” and “walking before running” can greatly minimize any disruptions - making migration to cloud a much more positive experience.

IT must also work closely with developers and application stakeholders to understand how targeted applications and/or cloud services are used.  

  • What resource are needed?

  • When are resources needed?

  • How does a given workload translate into cloud utilization?

Detail SLA.png

 Longitude Report  - Showing User Defined KPIs


Ultimately on-premises IT becomes the cloud clearinghouse - using the information collected from all those involved to determine what type of cloud services should be used and how to best integrate and leverage the services based function and cost.




Persistent Capacity Planning An Absolute Must –
While cloud computing does provide tremendous value, it is not without its challenges. The ease at which cloud resources can be made available is both good (as it is fast to deploy) and bad (it gets expensive quickly). Careful consideration has to be given as to how best size and time the deployment of cloud resources so that costs do not get out of hand.

Properly evaluating and adjusting cloud resources, especially when they are operating in either an IaaS or Hybrid Cloud infrastructure can make or break a cloud deployment.  The main task at hand for IT is to leverage capacity planning to appropriately size on-premises and cloud resources -  it is all about balance and optimizing key resources like server density and storage in order to provide proper application performance. 



Proper
Cloud Capacity Planning entails the characterization of workloads based on resource consumption, timing, and immediacy.

Cloud services/resources need to be constantly monitored because costs can spiral out of control and without any warning – the last thing any IT department wants or needs is to receive an unexpectedly large invoice!


 

Cloud Capacity Planning is not simply a matter of looking at resource consumption (i.e. CPU, Memory, Disk, etc.), it is also about looking at the timing of the workloads:

  • An application that generates a defined workload that peaks over a limited time period is a good candidate for On Demand Instances.

  • Workloads where immediacy is not priority and that can tolerate interruptions are ideal for leveraging spare cloud capacity that is purchased at significant savings

  • Capacity planning becomes an increasingly complicated proposition when tracking resources operating across a hybrid infrastructure.



Shadow IT The New Normal Shadow IT - The New Normal

The deployment of IT systems by users that bypass IT altogether a.k.a. “Shadow IT” can wreak havoc in an organization, especially when left unchecked.



While on-premises resources are easily controlled and regulated by IT, cloud services can be provisioned by end users without IT’s knowledge. Anyone can provision cloud services with a credit card and just a bit of know how.

Setting aside the security issues, “Shadow IT” introduces a whole host of challenges, not the least of which is IT being tasked with integrating applications/cloud services that it had no part in choosing. Even worse, IT could even be saddled with the cost.

Shadow IT results from uncontrolled cloud deployments. Making IT the gatekeeper for any technology deployments helps mitigate the situation. Ultimately it should be up to on-premises IT to properly integrate and manage private and public cloud services.

Making IT the gatekeeper is only part of the equation. The most effective way to limit Shadow IT is to ensure on-premises IT organizations invest the time to learn about their users’ challenges and that they propose viable solutions. In the end it is about IT being the trusted authority for all things cloud.  Users will continue to embrace Shadow IT if they feel they can get what they need “better” and “more quickly” by going rogue.


Ultimately Shadow IT results when users feel their needs can’t be met through internal channels.  IT’s success is as much about establishing and maintaining a close working relationship with its users as it is helping drive innovation with technology.

IT needs to show they’re fully vested in any cloud technology requests which means:

  • IT participates in all technology evaluations – IT is the guiding authority, they coordinate proof-of-concepts

  • IT is timely with technology deployments – When services are chosen, implementation should be quick, otherwise users will most certainly pursue alternate avenues.

  • IT is expert on all things cloud – As IT is the trusted adviser, this means they need to stay current on what is happening in the marketplace. Even more importantly, they need to be open to new ideas and ready to embrace change.


 

Conclusion:

Cloud really has necessitated a change to IT’s approach to delivering services to its users. The technology monopoly that on-premises IT once enjoyed has all but evaporated.

This is not to say that on-premises IT is diminished in anyway.  Rather IT’s expertise, guidance, and steady hand are critical to the successful selection and integration of cloud services.  IT’s success is ultimately predicated on maintaining its status as a trusted adviser.

IT must take an active role in planning, coordinating, and maintaining all  technology, be it on-premises or cloud. In some respects, the role of on-premises IT is not unlike that of a ringleader in a circus. One could argue that cloud has merely increased the number of rings in the circus!  

 

Want to learn more?

Download our AWS vs Azure comparison matrix -  Amazon and Microsoft each offer cloud technology and services that are excellent in their own right. Which attributes and capabilities are a better fit for your organization?

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