Don't be scared; it's just the cloud

You can expect some change in roles and skills, but no more so than you saw in previous technology shifts

There is no question that the use of cloud-based resources affects IT organizations. But how much should your IT organization change to best leverage cloud computing?

I hear that question a lot, and it's often grounded not so much in process concerns but fear of job loss or devaluation of individuals' current skills or roles. Such fears are most acute among those who have resisted the cloud for years; they see the writing on the wall, and panic sets in.

[ Cloud computing shares resources that were never shared before, creating a new set of risks and demanding a new set of security best practices. Learn about those new security practices from the Digital Spotlight: Cloud Security PDF special report. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]

The reality is that IT orgs have always changed around the use of technology. This need to adapt is hardly unique to cloud usage, so I'm always taken aback when such change comes as a surprise.

But there is a big difference in how the cloud affects IT compared to previous technology changes: The use of public cloud resources means a shift to resources that the IT org does not control. That change is more profound than individual jobs changing or disappearing -- it's giving up ownership of the actual technology systems, yet still being responsible for them from a business viewpoint.

Despite the control concerns, the cloud allure is too strong to resist. Don't forget the positive changes it brings to IT. Provisioning, testing, and deployment are easier, for example. Databases can be stood up in a day, rather than the weeks or months of older methods. Thousands of server instances can be provisioned in seconds, and any amount of storage is just a few clicks away.

How will IT need to change due to the cloud? For the most part, cloud computing won't chainsaw through existing IT orgs. Smart people will be needed to design and build these cloud-based systems and to figure out the synergy with cloud-based resources and existing legacy systems. Now's the time to ask yourself what kind of structure and people will you need to support the use of cloud.

The changes are actually easy to predict. Security and governance become more important, as do management and monitoring. Development skills will shift some to cloud-based platforms and devops approaches. IT pros currently managing storage and compute services will have to serve double duty with new cloud-based resources to manage.

You should not be concerned if things change. You should be concerned if they don't -- that means you're in a cocoon the world will pass by.

This article, "Don't be scared; it's just the cloud," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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