Don’t forget about people on your cloud journey
Read time 5 mins
In many ways, we can say that cloud computing is designed to speak to the needs of people, and, in particular, to the needs of the modern workforce. After all, once implemented, cloud computing offers multiple people-centric benefits, including:
- Mobility – cloud technology gives people the ability to access business applications ‘on the go’ from mobile devices.
- Convenience – there’s no denying that cloud computing has facilitated remote work and the new ‘work from anywhere’ mentality we’ve seen from employers, particularly since the 2020 pandemic.
- Collaboration – cloud-based applications allow real-time collaboration to take place and for countless people to work on a file or task simultaneously.
- Reliability – work is often saved in real-time using cloud computing, so it’s far less likely people will ‘lose’ work in the event of a system crash and documents may still be accessed from elsewhere if one device fails.
In less sensational terms than above, cloud computing is simply a means of providing scalable computing services (including databases, servers, software, and networking) via the internet. It is designed to streamline processes, and its many accolades as a sharing and delivery model are indeed impressive. However, it’s important not to lose sight of the work involved in the transformation process itself. Remember, each organisations’ cloud journey begins with decisions about processes, technology, data and – perhaps most overlooked of all – people.
The people involved
There are bound to be many teams and numerous key players across the organisation impacted by your journey to the cloud. It’s true that the cloud should introduce positive change, i.e., new, agile and automated ways of working, running programs, and managing teams. However, it’s also important to invest in support and training for these new working methods, and to ensure that anyone affected by them is represented in the decision-making process.
The transformation team
Permanent IT staff will want to work closely with the organisation’s team leaders (as well as any external suppliers) to carry out the cloud transformation. With many hands on deck, communication at various key stages between these stakeholders and the wider organisation will be vital. This is to ensure everyone is kept in the loop and everybody remains onboard with the new delivery model. Maintaining regular contact between members of the transformation team can also help uncover improvements to the cloud infrastructure that will benefit the business along the way.
Organisations may want to consider bringing in an experienced managed service provider to consult with and to run and/or deliver the cloud transformation. Consulting with experienced providers during the initial stages of your cloud journey can help align the organisation’s IT strategy with business outcomes, helping the business to meet its strategic goals. Working with a managed IT service provider that has achieved similar transformations in your industry before, has a clear and measurable set of success metrics, as well as a collaborative attitude, will help this process run smoothly.
It will help to form a strong relationship with your cloud software provider (or to choose a managed service provider that already has access to and has worked with many different cloud vendors in the past, e.g., Azure or AWS). This is to ensure that the chosen product is the best fit for the organisation’s strategic business goals and that any use of the technology is underwritten by the vendor.
Changing roles and skills in the cloud
Anyone who knows anything about IT understands that nothing is static for long. It’s natural that, as technologies evolve, the roles of those who manage it change too. Organisations looking to shift from a traditional, onsite server to a cloud-based solution should bear in mind the importance of learning and growing their IT team along the way. Whilst some roles may naturally evolve and change alongside the transformation, other – new roles – will also be created.
Traditionally, IT teams have been responsible for a wide variety of functions in-house, including networking, storage, data, and applications. In such instances, teams may have included roles like network engineers, database engineers, system administrators, and software engineers – all of whom are likely to have been managed by a head of IT.
In cloud computing, conversely, some of the networking, storage, physical server and hypervisor/virtualisation components of the system are abstracted and therefore don’t require in-house management. In fact, depending on the type of cloud solution chosen, and whether organisations decide to work alongside a managed service provider, the level of responsibility organisations have for the different parts of their technology stack can vary greatly. Having said that, some of the new or significantly impacted roles in a cloud-first organisation might include:
- Cloud Service Manager – to manage cloud and financial contracts.
- Cloud Architect – to create technical architectures in a cloud environment.
- Systems Engineer – to manage environments, integrations, and automations.
- DevOps Engineer – to the infrastructure supporting CI/CD deployments.
- Cyber Security Engineer – to secure data in the cloud.
Training and development opportunities
When transitioning to the cloud, much of the emphasis traditional IT put on things like networking, data storage, and hardware management is shifted to focus on skills like management, coding, and automation. Due to this, it makes sense that some new roles and skills will develop during the transition process. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean replacing people.
The cloud journey is an excellent opportunity for organisations to upskill IT employees, allowing them to learn new skills and form part of a reimagined operation, potentially alongside a service provider offering ongoing consultancy and user-education.
Indeed, many organisations may find that the experience and responsibilities of traditional systems administrators will be useful in the cloud too. Remember, the cloud doesn’t work on autopilot and cloud management encompasses aspects of system management, network administration, and IT operations.
True, IT managers may no longer be required to install and configure physical equipment, but there will be a whole dynamic cloud architecture to manage instead. Additionally, the IT department will still need to manage users, take care of applications, control capacity, monitor network usage, and optimise data performance.
It’s safe to say that cloud managers – or those that take on more cloud management responsibilities – will have a big say in the future of any organisation. That is to say, in the way the organisation strategically leverages IT to meet its business goals.