Is Traditional IT Really Dead?
Even just a few short years ago, many companies saw cloud computing as a technology with potential, but that needed some adjustments before they would even consider adopting it. Most pointed to the same barriers to adoption: The cost of migrating their networks and application to the cloud, the loss of control over data, and concerns about privacy and security usually topped the list of concerns about the cloud. Add in the sense from most existing IT departments that “we can do it better,” and only the most forward-thinking companies migrated to cloud computing environments.
While some companies are still reluctant to move their most vital data and functions to a cloud environment, the number of companies that are doing so is only growing. In fact, according to one study by the Ponemon Institute, about 90 percent of the companies surveyed are either using or plan to use the cloud for their most sensitive functions. Another survey revealed that more than 40 percent of IT decision makers plan to increase their cloud expenditures in 2015, and cloud computing is expected to be one of the top three initiatives for IT departments this year.
With all of this focus on cloud computing, particularly in the realm of SaaS, and increased expenditures in cloud computing platforms, there are some questions about the role of traditional IT. In fact, some experts are sounding the knell for IT as we know it, especially in light of the substantial improvements to cloud security that have taken place in recent years. But is that really the case?
Old IT vs. New IT
In most organizations, IT serves primarily in a security role. Their primary concern is to protect the network. Some organizations look to IT to develop new applications or products, but often, IT is viewed as order takers: When someone has a problem that needs solving, whether it’s a forgotten password or virus, or a need for new software, they call IT for help.
The perception of IT within the organization is problematic for many professionals (they feel there is a lack of respect), but with more adoption of cloud computing, especially SaaS, many feel that their days are numbered. Consider the typical process of deploying a new application or system: The IT department generally receives a request, with a budget, and in some cases, a defined scope. They develop the product or system, usually with multiple rounds of changes and input from stakeholders. After testing and debugging the system, which can take months, it’s finally deployed.
This process seems excessively complex, especially when compared to the typical provisioning process for cloud computing services. With cloud computing, particularly in the case of SaaS (which can include security), the bulk of the work takes place in the identification and researching of appropriate services. Once the idea service is chosen, all IT needs to do is arrange payment and provision the necessary resources. They are no longer responsible for testing and debugging the product, maintaining security, or solving problems — the developer handles all those.
The New Role of IT
Given the relative simplicity of adopting cloud-based solutions, it’s no wonder that many IT professionals are wondering whether they are going to automate themselves out of a job. However, many experts point out that there will always be a need for IT, but that thanks to the cloud, their roles will change.
For example, there will always be a need for professionals who can manage core operational processes for the organization, a service that cannot always be offered by the standardized cloud services. And given the other changes in enterprise computing such as BYOD, there’s still a need for qualified individuals to handle the management of those changes. In addition, many companies are shifting to cloud solutions for the specific purpose of freeing up their IT teams to work on other projects and priorities, for when the team isn’t busy solving minor issues, they can focus on more strategic priorities.
Many experts also point out that the world of IT has always been one of change, and every trend and change has led to concerns about whether IT will become obsolete. The simple fact that the cloud is seeing higher rates of adoption is not going to negate the need for IT — it’s just going to change the way IT works and their primary responsibilities.