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In the early days of cloud computing there was a general fear among IT professionals that the automation it brings would mean the IT department would be scaled down or, at worst, completely sidelined. These concerns have proven misplaced for the most part. But it’s true to say that as the shift to cloud gathers momentum it will bring a major shake-up to the IT department as its role evolves.
In the era of cloud IT departments are already being expected to do more at a lower cost—and with less people. More fundamentally, the business’s expectations of what IT is supposed to do are completely changing. CIOs are under pressure to rapidly deliver the new applications that the business needs to drive digital transformation. IT is becoming, effectively, the application engine of the new digital business. Increasingly it acts less as an operational function and more as a broker of cloud-enabled services across the organization.
This new reality is bringing a fundamental rethink of how the IT department is structured, how the technical vision for the organization is determined, and which skills are required (or need to be discarded). It’s safe to say that the IT department emerging today, and which will become prevalent within the next five to ten years, will look completely different to that of the past.
IT is becoming, effectively, the application engine of the new digital business. Increasingly it acts less as an operational function and more as a broker of cloud-enabled services across the organization.
This change is already bringing plenty of resistance right across the IT department, from the infrastructure team right through to IT leaders – pretty ironic given how IT professionals have always been the self-styled agents of change within the enterprise.
Our recently-launched Oracle Cloud Machine, as well as our cloud at the customer offerings, point towards this new reality. Oracle Cloud Machine places the same hardware, software, and operational services available in the public cloud directly into companies’ data centres and behind their firewalls. This appeals to enterprise IT leaders as it meets their desire to have a cloud-enabled game plan for all critical enterprise applications, even those constrained by business and regulatory requirements.
It’s safe to say that the IT department emerging today, and which will become prevalent within the next five to ten years, will look completely different to that of the past.
But the Cloud Machine challenges the traditional structure of the IT department. The infrastructure team is the first to feel short-changed by this model given that an Oracle Cloud Machine (like the public cloud it is derived from) is not dependent on the in-house infrastructure team. They no longer need to monitor it, patch it, upgrade it, or provide support for it.
In the midst of this change IT professionals are having to reinvent themselves. Their focus is now on enabling the deployment and consumption of cloud services, not on configuring or managing data centre stacks. For IT managers, this means a shift towards supporting and developing applications, rather than maintaining hardware.
In the midst of this change IT professionals are having to reinvent themselves. Their focus is now on enabling the deployment and consumption of cloud services, not on configuring or managing data centre stacks.
The CIO, meanwhile, needs to take on the role of a service orchestrator rather than a gatekeeper. With lines of business able to purchase cloud services independently of IT, the CIO needs to ensure any new capabilities brought into the business fit with an integrated cloud strategy in which all data and IT resources are joined up, rather than an approach in which public and private cloud elements are stitched together on an ad hoc basis.
Additionally, CIOs will need to address the impact this shift has on their staff. In this new era of ‘fail fast’ iteration, they need to show their staff the opportunities that embracing new technologies and practices will give them. As has been shown throughout history, if workers can adapt to changes impacting their industry, they can continue to prosper.
In the next blog, I will examine in depth what skills will be required in the new IT department and the steps that IT professionals at all levels need to take in order to make themselves indispensable in the cloud era.
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