Feature:

Cloud Technologies are Changing the IT Landscape

By Mark C

TheServerSide.com

Top 5 Ways Cloud Technologies are Changing the IT Landscape

Building and maintaining a traditional IT environment is costly. Buying hardware and servers, installing software, implementing infrastructure change management, maintaining a proper security posture, providing robust development and test environments and responding to business demands quickly requires a dedicated and skilled IT staff. While this may be the commonplace model in many IT shops, cloud technologies are beginning to make serious inroads into changing the way fully internal IT shops operate. Here are the top five ways cloud technologies are changing the IT landscape.

1. IT Infrastructure

By far, the largest impact of a cloud computing model is to IT infrastructure. The migration to such a model must be carefully considered because not only is hardware and software affected but also the way in which internal IT processes and vendor relationships must change.

For companies that have a stringent regulatory-driven IT environment, such as banks or insurance companies, the change to using cloud resources requires a well thought out plan on how IT can respond to future industry changes due to political and economic situations.

Small to medium businesses (SMBs) can generally adapt more quickly to new cloud technologies since the IT physical infrastructure is more easily migrated. The scale of services required is much smaller and the management processes may be a bit more flexible to change.

2. Job Skills

Traditional IT job skills must change to adapt to cloud computing processes. Some skills will no longer be required such as server patching and e-mail management. Other skills such as application management and performance monitoring will require a shift in skills towards the tool-sets offered by cloud service providers.

Application developers will be required to learn how to develop, test and deploy applications to the cloud rather than to physical machines. Fortunately, vendors are stepping up their game and are beginning to offer a true onramp to developing applications for the cloud.

3. Platform as a Service (PaaS)

As cloud computing evolves and matures, PaaS will play a crucial role in reducing the cost, risk and complexity of evaluating, buying, deploying and maintaining enterprise-class business applications. Gone will be the massively time-consuming planning and development efforts required to realize enterprise applications. Instead, ready-made platforms are emerging as a means to build highly scalable applications without the constraints of a traditional IT infrastructure.

Developers will have the freedom to flex their creative muscles rather than fight against inadequate development and testing environments. In essence, they will have their own sandbox to play in without the worry of getting sand in another development team’s eyes. 

4. Data Management

One of the key elements in a high performance infrastructure is database performance and availability. Many a dollar has been spent on providing a robust and scalable infrastructure required for enterprise-class applications. By moving enterprise data to the cloud, availability, fail-over, backups and security management are all handled transparently.

The role of the database administrator will change somewhat as new vendor data management tools must be learned. But many time-consuming aspects of day-to-day operations will be gone, such as replication jobs, backups and performance tuning.

5. Security

Last but definitely not least is how the role of IT security will change when using cloud technologies. Many in IT management are concerned that they will lose control over data and the security of that data by storing information in the cloud. With all of the breaches of security and identity theft stemming from inadequate IT security processes, it’s no wonder IT shops have not been so quick to migrate to the cloud.

But chances are that vendor-supplied platforms and cloud computing infrastructures are more secure than the traditional IT shop. Managed cloud services have security experts on staff dedicated to protecting and securing their infrastructure. Vendors are typically SAS70-certified which means they must follow a specific set of operating principles in order to show proper safeguards are in place for customer data. Most traditional IT shops are not certified in this area because it is costly to do so.

Conclusion

In today’s economic climate, companies need to do more with less while trying to maintain a competitive edge over other players in the market. One of the most effective ways to do that is to be agile, to be able to change direction and innovate quickly. By moving certain key infrastructure and development processes to the cloud, both business and IT agility can be effectively realized. But it takes a lot of up-front planning to ensure a successful migration to cloud technologies.

19 Sep 2011

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