Rise of the cloud people – how cloud is creating a new breed of specialists

Cloud technology is bringing about more than just a change in IT strategy – its effect has been big enough also to drive a shift in the way IT people work, the way their roles are defined and their relationship with every other part of their organisation.

Looking at cloud market growth numbers helps give some background to these changes. In October 2015, IDC reported that enterprises worldwide were on course to spend $32.6bn on cloud-related IT infrastructure this year, up 24% from 2014.

This equates to around a third of overall enterprise IT spend alone, and demonstrates how cloud has come a very long way in just a few years (and that’s just enterprise spend).

But this level of investment indicates something far greater than financial commitment. Organisations are being changed by the cloud, as are the people they employ. Companies are recruiting staff with specific and focused cloud experience, and also investing in the development of their IT teams to help bridge the technology/business gap.

> See also: How to win the cloud adoption marathon

Jobs for cloud specialists are now commonplace and businesses are increasingly recruiting against specific cloud platforms such as Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure.

The resource revolution

Cloud has helped businesses address a general shift in resources away from traditional IT teams, who as one IT leader put it, ‘don’t have the manpower to babysit hardware anymore’.

This change in emphasis means that cloud people need to understand both the scope for cloud technology to deliver the specific infrastructure and services their business needs, and also how to use it when it is in place.

This ability to plan cloud service provision for peaks and troughs is essential in order to take advantage of the cost control capabilities inherent in good cloud design. IT leaders are developing their technology management skills to focus on these needs, and there is a further shift away from evaluating specific hardware providers, for example, towards ensuring that the service delivers the power and performance required. Hardware choice is now often a decision for the cloud provider, not the end-user.

While IT leaders and their colleagues still have technology resourcing as a central part of their remit, the way in which they plan, deliver and manage resource is changing quickly.

Supplier management skills

This close integration between IT customer and cloud supplier is becoming an important point on the CV of today’s IT leaders. The broader adoption of cloud technology and services, particularly via specialist partners, means that IT teams must become more capable in making the most of supplier relationships.

This begins with the ability to specify what is required from a cloud solution, and then to select the right supplier from what is becoming an increasingly crowded and competitive market.

Cloud people need to understand the capabilities (and any limitations) of their partners in detail, and develop relationships which can flex and adapt across all circumstances

They also need to be able to translate business planning and strategic product/service objectives into real world delivery, and overcome the long standing barriers between IT and business.

Bridging the gap

Cloud is driving a change in how organisations want their IT teams to work with the rest of the business. The idea that IT has a genuine understanding of issues outside of its direct remit has been on the agenda of many businesses for years.

The problem has been that traditional IT meant technical staff needed to spend their time ‘keeping the lights on’, and the scope to achieve greater levels of integration has been limited.

> See also: The great IT myth: is cloud really less secure than on-premise?

But ideally, many IT leaders would like their teams to have a broader role helping the business to grow. Businesses in general could learn a great deal from the start-up community who enthusiastically embrace (and indeed create) ‘as-a-service’ and cloud infrastructure solutions to give them flexibility and control as they expand and develop.

Start-ups are also setting the trend for the type of IT leader and team members needed in today’s economy. They frequently look for people who can focus on improving the business via technology – they might not have the deep technical background of their traditionally-focused counterparts, but they can very effectively bridge the gap between business need and IT delivery (internally and externally).

Cloud people are a new breed, created by a radical and rapid change in the technology market. They have adapted to the opportunities presented by cloud technology to focus on skills which help cloud to deliver on its potential.

Sourced from Campbell Williams, Group Strategy & Marketing Director, Six Degrees Group

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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