Cloud computing offers the ability to shift IT management responsibilities from the organization to a some service provider. It’s great in theory but practice doesn’t always pan out so smoothly. In a recent article on forbes.com, author and researcher Joe McKendrick presents what you really need to know about cloud computing.
The constant promise we hear about cloud computing is that it is supposed to lift many of the burdens of information technology management away from companies, and out to some service provider. However, the promise is always a lot sweeter than the reality. And that reality is that new types of skills are required to successfully manage today’s cloud environments.
For one, many clouds are internal to organizations, developed, hosted and managed by IT or another part of the enterprise – thus requiring many of the same skills that an Amazon Web Services or IBM need to keep their offerings going.
Second, for those organizations adopting much of their IT power from third-party providers, there is still a need — or even greater need — for people who know what services to pick, can negotiate service level agreements, and can integrate those off-site offerings with on-site data and operations.
So, either way, cloud computing calls for a range of new skills. Here are the eight essential skills needed:
Business and financial skills
Cloud computing proponents need to be able to make the business case for a cloud deployment, or to nix a cloud project that doesn’t meet these needs. They also need to be able to build a return on investment (ROI) case, and monitor and make judgment calls on metrics based on business performance versus the costs of supporting or subscribing to the cloud. Cloud computing is very much a powerful business tool, and business-savvy evangelists are needed to make it work for enterprises.
While the types and extent of skills required on staff will depend on how much of the cloud will be built and managed in-house, there’s no question that the ability to build applications that can run quickly on the Internet prevail. The knowledge base would need to be heavily focused on Internet capabilities. Java and. NET framework skills may come to the forefront, as well as knowledge of virtualization. Knowledge of open-source tools and languages may also come into play as well.
Enterprise architecture and business needs analysis
Essential for laying out a roadmap of what services – whether they are coming from IT or an outside provider – will be needed. Able to work with the business, speak the language of business, as well as work with IT professionals. An understanding of the principles of service-oriented architecture would go a long way.
Project management skills
Project management skills have been a necessity for some time with IT projects, which require marshaling people and a variety of resources from across the enterprise to agree on goals, establish timelines, and meet milestones in a timely manner. Unfortunately, as any IT veteran knows all too well, user preferences change, more deliverables are added and padded into the project (“scope creep”), and projects end up being delivered behind deadline and over budget. Since cloud computing offers end-users the potential to run wild with new requests for services, effective project management skills are needed to keep cloud projects from eventually costing far more than the on-premises systems they were designed to replace.
Contract and vendor negotiation
Working with cloud providers, able to negotiate service-level agreements, availability. Able to read the fine print in vendors’ contracts and call them on the carpet when things aren’t performing as planned. Who will step up to the plate and make the right noise when a cloud service goes down or is habitually underperforming? Cloud makes vendors omnipresent in day-to-day operations, so individuals with training or savvy with vendor negotiating skills will be a must.
Security and compliance
An understanding of security protocols is essential, no matter what type of cloud is being deployed. Related to this is an understanding of mandates and regulations – such as Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, and the myriad of data-handling laws from the European Union to states within the US.
Data integration and analysis skills
Data is more valuable than oil in today’s economy. But having actionable information on which to base business decision requires consistency and timeliness. Will data generated through cloud-based systems mesh seamlessly with on-premises ERP, data warehouse or other systems? Data professionals are in strong demand, and those who can design systems that can ingest Big Data from the cloud, or use the cloud to provide analytical environments.
Mobile app development and management
The rise of mobile devices in the workplace is part and parcel of the cloud phenomenon. In many cases, the move to cloud computing is being driven by the need to provide services that can be accessed by any and all devices, be they laptops or smartphones. There is strong demand for professionals who can build and deliver apps that can reside in the cloud and reach employees, partners and customers anywhere and anytime.
Did we miss anything? What skills do you think are needed for successful cloud computing?
Click here to read the full article and commentary on Forbes.com.