The cloud, being one of the major IT transformations for the past couple of years, has been a big bandwagon for the merchants to jump on. You see marketing materials everywhere, especially with the interactive cost calculators that immediately tell you the savings involved. If you look at these cloud calculators closely, you will see that the main cost reduction comes from the savings from the manpower costs. Of course, when you are hosting your datacenter in the cloud you will no longer have an on premises datacenter, which in turn means that you do not need a person to manage your servers. This perspective implicitly concludes that the cloud will be the end of the IT department. And following the same logic, the only place that the current IT people can work will be the cloud providers’ datacenters.
Back to the reality.
The assumptions lying behind the marketing materials and the cost calculators are simply not true. Especially some so untrue to the point that even the cloud vendors explicitly voice them or by implicitly accepting them in the cloud contracts.
Let’s start with backup. Almost none of the cloud contracts provide you with backup solutions. The only backup that will be taken by the cloud provider is the backup for their own needs: to restore everything in the event of a hardware or system failure in the datacenter. But this has nothing to do with your data: your data’s responsibility is solely your problem. Of course, the cloud vendors offer you with backup/restore options but unless you explicitly put it in your contract, nobody will be backing up your data. Believe it or not, more than 95% of the companies forget backups of their servers running in the cloud. That means, you need at least a backup administrator to take care of your data.
The next issue is the security issue. Hosting your data in somebody’s datacenter means that someone else will be thinking about security matters. That someone else will be placing your servers behind a firewall, will be setting up intrusion prevention systems, will be setting up proxies for you. You cannot be more wrong than this. The cloud provider will setup the server and the remote connection and send you the details. As soon as your server is up and running, it is open to threats on the Internet, meaning that you need to setup a security infrastructure even before you deploy servers in the cloud. And, you will need someone to set up and maintain all these for you.
You may argue that these all may be the case with the Infrastructure-as-a-Service solution but not applicable to the Software-as-a-Service solution. At least this is the logic when you think will happen when/if you move your infrastructure to Google Apps or Office 365. Again, this is far from the truth. Suppose that you are moving to Office 365. You have to be migrating your existing Active Directory infrastructure, e-mails, file servers, access control lists, certificate revocation lists, password policies, backup policies and many other things that are already present in your current infrastructure. Not only the current infrastructure; you also need to think about the future: what will you do when someone leaves the company and when someone else is employed? What will be the policies, e-mail redirections, access control management?
There are also other questions ahead, such as managing IT assets, deploying updates to company issued desktops, laptops and mobile devices, managing mobile data, managing IT support, analyzing support issues, and all other daily IT tasks.
When you move your datacenter to the cloud, what you are doing essentially is getting rid of your current IT capital investments and electricity consumption. The move to the cloud is not eliminating or threatening the IT jobs: your IT department will more or less exactly work the same way as if you have an on-premise datacenter (although there also changes ahead for the IT department). Just as the developers are thinking different with their applications by moving them from the desktop to the web and to the mobile, the IT department will be employing different ways of thinking for managing the infrastructure.
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