Cloud Solutions for Business: The IT Manager Mandate

Businesses are moving to the cloud, with research firm Gartner predicting that by the end of 2017, there will be a $246.8 billion market for the public cloud alone. And while C-suite members need high-level knowledge of basic cloud services, IT managers are tasked with understanding cloud solutions for business at a deeper level. What skills do tech pros need to meet this new mandate?

Embracing Employees

According to a recent Forbes survey, more than half of companies are putting new apps and services in the cloud instead of on existing infrastructure. The result? It's now possible for non-tech employees to easily deploy applications or resources without waiting for IT approval. In fact, 76 percent of respondents say DevOps (not IT) was responsible for their transition, despite the lack of DevOps departments in most organizations. Those surveyed pointed to DevOps as an operating philosophy with roots in agile development.

A man using a laptop, talking to a woman with a tablet.
IT managers will need a variety of new skills in order to leverage cloud solutions for business.

What does this mean for the IT manager skill set? It's no longer possible to tell employees how they should interact with cloud services, but instead empower them to easily and securely leverage the cloud. Forcing them down the narrow path of approved services often leads to the development of shadow IT. As noted by Network World, even NASA discovered 28 unsanctioned cloud services on its system during a recent audit. As a result, an IT manager must develop new ways to embrace employee expectations while minimizing overall risk.

Managing Multi-Cloud

IT professionals must become adept at both designing new cloud environments and determining the best cloud distribution for their organizations. According to CloudTech, high-demand skills for tech experts now include private and hybrid cloud design, private and hybrid infrastructure-as-a-service provisioning, and cloud systems management.

Yet this is just the beginning. Companies have evolved past the one-cloud-only model to embrace the notion of specific clouds for specific workloads or projects. As a result, many companies are trending away from single public or private deployments to a multi-cloud mix that includes hybrid, private, and public distributions that change dynamically over time to meet corporate needs. Beyond rebranding themselves as cloud experts, IT managers must learn how to effectively balance cloud spending and cloud benefits while simultaneously communicating value to C-suite executives.

Implementing Innovation

Once cloud systems are up and running, IT managers must develop skills to make the best use of these new resources. Consider the IoT. The market for this always-connected, interlocking web of sensors, mobile devices, and monitoring tools promises big gains if companies are able to effectively collect, parse, and interpret big data. To meet this emerging challenge, IT professionals need the time and space to expand their knowledge and embrace the impact of IoT.

Other innovations are also changing the way enterprises handle day-to-day operations. The rise of cloud-based VoIP, for example, can not only replace but significantly upgrade the performance of inter-office and intra-office communication systems and pave the way for unified communications deployments. While it makes sense to leverage the tools and technology of third-party experts for cloud-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), IT managers remain the critical point of contact between cloud services and new solutions.

The bottom line? Implementing the cloud is a challenge shared by employees, executives, and IT managers. Meanwhile, understanding cloud solutions for business falls under the purview of IT experts and demands a new focus on end users, multi-cloud management, and the ability to effectively implement innovative solutions.

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