As businesses move to the cloud, IT professionals will likely need different skill sets to meet changing demands, according to IT executive panel discussions on cloud computing during Wired magazine’s CIO Leadership Forum in New York recently.
“The role of the IT person is changing,” said Greg Bouncontri, Chief Information Officer for Pitney Bowes, during one panel on cloud computing. These changes will focus on ”big picture” strategic thinking.
Because the cloud will standardize infrastructure, IT professionals will spend far less time managing servers and handling “traditional” IT roles. Instead, they will focus on understanding how multiple cloud offerings can work together and how to optimize diverse cloud apps to benefit their organizations, forum panelists said.
Bouncontri said that while his IT personnel have traditionally concentrated on security and operational efficiency, now they also must find ways to use cloud IT services as a “catalyst for growth” for the company.
This shift from tactical to strategic support may cause some turbulence as businesses enter the cloud and many IT professionals will need to upgrade skills or even retool. “The role of IT will be much more about innovation,” agreed Saad Ayub, CIO for the media company Scholastic.
Cloud computing will also require more IT architecture skills than are common to many IT staffs, panelists noted. Fewer people will be needed to carry out the work of implementing programs, while more people would do the architecture work needed to tie together different cloud services, and to hook these services back to in-house systems, said Bob Kelly, a Microsoft vice president for server and cloud platform marketing.
Kelly heralded cloud computing as the next major shift in computing for the industry. Just as mainframes gave way to client-server computing in the 1990s, so too will most organizations move to cloud computing, at least for many of their applications. Such a dramatic change in styles of computing calls for changes in skillsets, he argued.
“Most of the work going forward will be integration, and architectural in nature. There will be a need for people in all levels who are thinking about a composite world. You have to think about how parts fit, which is an architectural mindset. It’s not implementation of a feature, it’s architectural in nature,” Kelly said.
What does all this mean for the average business – and its IT staff? It may mean enabling IT staffers to get re-tooled – or it may mean hiring additional (or different) IT professionals who possess the needed skill set. Another option: seek an outside IT provider with cloud computing expertise to provide strategy and innovation skills.