Cloud Computing: The Cloud, the Cloud, the Cloud

For all the hype thus far, the future of IT services, applications and storage is destined for the cloud. You need to be ready.

Romi Mahajan

Ideas stick when mentioned three times in succession. Real estate types know the three most important aspects of a property are “location, location, location.” The famous tale of Arthur Rubinstein supports this idea as well. When asked, “Excuse me sir, but how do I get to Carnegie Hall?” Rubinstein responded: “Practice, practice, practice.” In his farewell speech at West Point, General MacArthur referred to “the Corps, and the Corps and the Corps,” when predicting the nature of his thoughts during his final moments.

In the world of today’s IT professional, the marker of relevance—and perhaps future employability—can be easily summed up as “the cloud, the cloud, the cloud.” The advent of cloud services is undoubtedly the most epochal shift in the technology world since the widespread adoption of the Internet, and as such, cannot be written about enough.

On the other hand, for two decades naysayers have been falsely predicting the demise of the IT professional as we know it. So what’s the right balance, and how should you think about your future?

While I have my own ideas about this topic, I decided to ask 25 folks in the industry what their views are. To each, I posited the notion that the cloud is a big deal, and posed these two questions:

  1. How will the cloud change IT?
  2. Will IT teams be smaller in a world of cloud services?

The answers are anything but monolithic. In fact, they’re all over the board. There are, however, five general themes:

  • IT is just as much about process as it is about technology. We can change the technology all we want, but IT will always be just as relevant as it is today.
  • IT professionals will have to unlearn two things: that software is packaged and that it’s best when run on-premises. If they can unlearn these and shed their previous biases, they’ll be fine.
  • The cloud is really not that new. It’s just been given a name and brandished about.
  • IT will be more efficient with the cloud, but because so many new parts of the business are being “technologized,” the overall ranks of IT will swell, not diminish.
  • IT will change irrevocably. IT pros should learn a new skill or be doomed.

So, we have the entire progression of ideas and emotions from, “The cloud is old-hat,” to, “The cloud creates real opportunity for IT,” to, “The cloud is going to rain death on the IT department.” It’s important to take the middle approach. This is not simply the “easy” route, but the way that’s more finely nuanced and provides greater options.

And those are the real points:. In the world of the cloud, IT becomes more nuanced. There are more subtle options to solve real problems. There are sets of decisions that never were possible before. There’s a newfound ability to tie IT to the core business in profound ways.

IT—both its infrastructure and its management—is more foundational to more elements of the business than ever before. Even the world of marketing has reached a point of singularity with IT. Marketing simply doesn’t exist without its technology core.

Implied in such statements is the fact that IT—and by extension, IT professionals and managers—is as fundamental to the smooth flow of business as ever. This doesn’t mean we can have a static view of either IT or its practitioners. It does mean that, with some inspiration and lot of perspiration, the profession can assert its place in the sun.

To get there, IT pros must:

  • Architect a sustainable technology platform that incorporates software and services, both on- and off-premises.
  • Bring as many parts of the business onto this platform as possible.

The cloud certainly changes a lot. It’s exciting, powerful and heady. It requires many of us to rethink things we took as axiomatic. It would be a mistake, however, to react to its emergence with fear, uncertainty, doubt. Embrace it and see where it can take your business.

Romi Mahajan

Romi Mahajan is president of KKM Group. Prior to joining KKM, Mahajan was chief marketing officer of Ascentium Corp. A well-known speaker on the technology and media circuit, he serves on a variety of advisory boards and speaks at more than a dozen industry events per year.