Adopt the cloud, kill your IT career

It's irresponsible to think that just because you push a problem outside your office, it ceases to be your problem

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Now imagine where you'll be when you've successfully outsourced the majority of your internal IT to cloud providers. All your email, apps, storage, and security rest easy in the cloud. You have fancy Web consoles to show you what's going where and what resources you're consuming. You no longer have to worry about the pesky server hardware in the back room or all those wires. If a problem arises, you fire off an email or open a support ticket, sit back, and wait.

Once that becomes the norm, the powers that be might realize they don't need someone to do any of those tasks. I mean, if they're paying good money to these vendors for this hosted cloud stuff, why do they need an IT department? They'd be mistaken, of course, but frankly, they'd also have a point. After all, anyone can call a vendor and complain.

Don't get me wrong. I believe there are many areas in which the cloud brings significant benefits to an organization of any size. Data warehousing, archiving, and backup using cloud storage providers that offer block-level storage, tightly integrated security, and local storage caching and abstraction devices come to mind.

But on the opposite end of that spectrum are application and primary storage services that function at higher levels and can be compromised with a single leaked password. Aside from the smallest of companies, these services collected into any form cannot serve as a full-on replacement for local IT. Doing so places the organization in unnecessary jeopardy on a daily basis. 

Cloud vendors necessarily become targets for computer criminals, and however vigilant the vendor may be, at some point they're going to be compromised. Judging by the recent revelations of Stuxnet, Flame, and Duqu, this may have already happened. Don't think that I'm being overly paranoid, either. If I'd told you a month ago that several widespread viruses were completely undetectable by antivirus software due to the fact they were signed using Microsoft certificates, you'd have thought the same. But it happened.

If and when it comes to light that a major cloud vendor has been compromised for months and has divulged significant amounts of sensitive customer information to hackers over that period, we should not be surprised. I mean, City College of San Francisco had been compromised for more than a decade before anyone figured it out.

The fact of the matter is that a significant internal or external event occurring at one or more cloud providers can be ruinous for that provider and, by extension, its customers. That means you in IT. The best idea is to use cloud offerings wisely, and be ever vigilant about maintaining control over what little you can. Trust, but verify -- and keep your cards close to the vest.

This story, "Adopt the cloud, kill your IT career," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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