The cloud job that should make you think twice

Lacking the necessary cloud management technology, the new role of cloud manager may not be the best job on the market

There's a new technology position you may have heard of: the cloud manager. Typically, cloud managers work in enterprise IT, in charge of maintaining the company's adopted IaaS and PaaS public cloud services. The new job may sound like a great place to get in on the vanguard of technology adoption, but most cloud managers I meet aren't so happy.

Why so glum? The job is quickly ballooning, and cloud managers don't have the tools to control the huge wave coming at them.

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Though you'd think cloud managers have only one or two cloud services to deal with, I find they usually have four or five, with more expected by 2014. The reason? In large part, the growth in clouds to manage is due to "shadow IT" cloud computing projects coming to light. As a result, those cloud-based applications and data stores will move to central corporate IT control.

The duties of cloud managers vary greatly. However, they typically manage the allocation of the public cloud resources to those in the organization who request them. Also, they make sure the monthly bill matches the resources actually consumed. Moreover, cloud managers monitor the health of the cloud services, deal with security issues, and generally do whatever is needed to keep things working. It's a big job.

But cloud managers are going to war with few weapons. Although the cloud providers provide rudimentary tools for management, the number of clouds under management is growing, as is the complexity of the offerings. There should be stack of good technology sitting between the cloud managers and the cloud services, but I have yet to see it.

Cloud management technology should provide services such as:

  • The ability to manage fine-grain cloud services or APIs from many providers, alone or as clusters of services
  • The ability to provide self-healing services that automatically correct operational issues
  • The ability to proactively manage costs, including allocating costs back to business units, as well as the ability to quickly find the cloud service with the least cost and best performance
  • The ability to monitor and manage adherence to SLAs

The problem is that cloud management technology is still maturing. A few innovators such as Rightscale, EnStratus, and Layer 7 are moving in the right direction. But missing still is that one killer technology that turns the new cloud manager position into a job that people would want.

Until then, cloud managers could have the most frustrating job in IT.

This article, "The cloud job that should make you think twice," 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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