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Invest in cloud skills or risk marginalisation, CIOs warned

Bill Goodwin

CIOs have been urged to invest in the processes and skills to manage cloud services effectively – or risk being marginalised by the rest of the business.

Analyst group, Gartner, warned today that IT departments were in danger of losing the initiative over cloud as other parts of the business start buying-in public cloud services directly.

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In an interview with Computer Weekly, Gartner analyst, Tapati Bandopadhyay, urged CIOs to re-dress the balance by investing in the service management skills their Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) staff to provide cloud services internally.

Infrastructure and Operations 

“Infrastructure and Operations [I&O] needs to be proactive and comfortable with cloud," said Bandopadhyay. "They need to have the kind of process and people maturity to deliver the capacity and functionality that a public cloud service can provide."

How to prepare for cloud

  • Prepare contingency and risk management plans early
  • Focus on people and process management maturity
  • Take strategic rather than operational IT decisions
  • Choose technology carefully
  • Review service quality definitions, metrics, KPIs, SLA and SLA management.
  • Click here for the full Gartner article.

Source: Gartner

There are sound business reasons why the I&O team should manage cloud services, despite the increasing ease with which other parts of the business can buy-in on-demand cloud services from organisations such as Amazon and Rackspace, said Bandopadhyay.

Making demand for IT visible 

Organisations can lose the ability to track demand for IT services, making capacity planning to manage when departments buy-in cloud services without going through IT, she said.

“The problem is the process and governance framework under which the internal I&O operates. The I&O has an internal capacity management process which the business is expected to use,” she said.

tapatibandopadhyayTapati Bandopadhyay

Failure to follow this process can expose the business to unnecessary compliance and regulatory risks, particularly in regulated industries such as financial services.

“We need to have complete visibility in terms of where our customer data resides, how we are controlling the privacy of our customer data,” she said.

Process skills 

Bandopadhyay advises I&O departments to invest in training their staff to develop the process skills they need to manage cloud services effectively. 

An index developed by the analyst group reveals that I&O departments score an average of just over two out of five for managing processes, where three is considered the minimum requirement for effective cloud service delivery.

Training 

“Training is the most important because people are at the most critical level," said Bandopadhyay "We have to give technical training on cloud. We have to give them process training and service training,” she said.

It's important for the I&O department to choose cloud technology carefully to avoid the risk of becoming locked into a particular supplier’s technology, said Bandopadhyay.

Organisations should also approach service levels in a dynamic way, so that, for example, it can makes sense to offer shorter response times during peak hours, and a longer response time outside office hours.

“The kind of transformation that cloud needs, the investment it needs, is quite significant, in terms of time, money and effort you expect your people to spend,” she said.


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