The impact of Cloud on IT
How very complementary
First published: July 2011
By Andrew Buss and Dale Vile
Cloud is complementary to existing IT infrastructure and service delivery concepts
As Cloud services gather momentum, investment in internal IT infrastructure is continuing, and even accelerating. More extensive use of virtualisation and the move to better management is helping traditional IT become more efficient, responsive and reliable, essentially taking on many of the attributes of Cloud. Few are contemplating a wholesale move into the Cloud, with the result that when Cloud is adopted it needs to integrate and interoperate with the existing IT infrastructure.
External Cloud services will co-exist with existing third party services in the market
Traditional third party services - hosted infrastructure, managed services and other forms of outsourcing – are used widely today. While these will remain relevant for the foreseeable future, the adoption of Cloud services will displace a proportion of this activity. Traditional hosting and managed services providers are already starting to work Cloud options into their service portfolios, and the market will increasingly be defined by players who adopt an inclusive approach.
Cloud will change the skills required to deliver IT services
The adoption of Cloud further drives the emphasis of IT delivery from managing individual pieces of technology to focusing on the service actually provided to the business, however that is achieved. This reinforces the ongoing trend towards adopting an end-to-end service delivery approach. From an IT skills perspective, this increases the demand for IT professionals that are comfortable working across traditional operational silos and domains of expertise. The key to managing IT performance will increasingly be insight into how internal components and external services work together.
Cloud may make life easier in some areas, but also creates challenges elsewhere
Although Cloud is often sold on the basis that it offers a simpler way to deliver IT services, it is not a magic silver bullet. Cloud creates a number of challenges of its own on the way, and these are accentuated when it’s put together with traditional IT. Improvements in provisioning and operating services are countered by the challenges of implementing security and information management across in-house and (often multiple) service provider environments, and making sure the network communications are up to the task.
Without integration, Cloud is more plug-and-pray than plug-and -play
For many, the attraction of Cloud services is the ability to select a service, pay for it and get going. This may work for a limited deployment of Cloud, particularly for small-scale rollouts or where the applications are mainly stand-alone and independent. Once Cloud becomes a core part of the business then architectural challenges arise that need time, planning and investment to solve. This negates the “easy on ramp” advantage claimed for Cloud over traditional IT applications and services, and essentially places Cloud on a level footing with the rest of IT.