NEW YORK -- Outsourcing software, services and infrastructure to the cloud changes the role of IT pros, but it doesn't mean you have to fear for your job.
Aside from the usual security concerns, IT has some job security concerns when it comes to cloud. That's because a cloud deployment within their organization means a service provider takes over a lot of the management, maintenance and resource allocation that IT staff previously handled.
Some in IT wonder, "What will be left for me to do?" That was the topic of discussion in the keynote here at TechTarget's Modern Infrastructure Decisions Summit.
Cloud can't do it all
Luckily for IT, the cloud can't do everything, said Jonathan Eunice, principal IT advisor at Illuminata Inc. IT can stay relevant by providing cloud-like economics in their shops and providing key cloud attributes on-premises that the cloud can't offer.
To provide the economic benefits of the cloud, you need to deliver speed, scale and agility -- and IT can do that using many of the tools and technologies they already have, like portals and virtualization, Eunice said. Organizations that haven't virtualized yet should get on the bandwagon, and those that have should find an area they haven't virtualized, like the network, and bring it into the virtual fold, he said.
Connectivity is another aspect that IT may be able to deliver better than the cloud can. Outsourcing connectivity to a service provider means you have no control when the Internet goes down, so the in-house network often has a leg up on the cloud.
If IT doesn't get on board [with cloud]… you'll become 'shadow IT.
Principal IT advisor, Illuminata
Privacy is also a big one. When you hand data over to a third party, you're giving up a sense of privacy, but keeping data in-house as much as possible gives IT the keys to the kingdom.
One of the biggest so-called benefits of the cloud – elasticity –may not be true elasticity, so that's another thing to provide on-premises, Eunice said.
"Amazon [Web Services] is awesome, but under the hood … you can do better," he said. "Your virtualized environment can beat the elasticity of AWS with a big, nail-studded stick, and it can do it all day long," he said.
There are plenty of other elements that are better-off local, said Scott Lowe, managing consultant at The 1610 Group, an IT planning firm, during a session.
Secondary authentication in the cloud is fine, but it's best to keep your primary authentication and identity management on-premises, he said. Personally identifiable information, as well as legacy ERP systems, often needs to be kept local – plus, anything IT is unsure about from a regulatory perspective.
"If you're not sure if it's legal [to put in the cloud], probably don't do it," Lowe said.
Keeping IT jobs relevant
Despite the ability to still handle some things on-premises, outsourcing is here to stay. IT needs to embrace cloud services and the on-demand workforce culture, Eunice said.
"All users, all consumers are infinitely more powered than they were in the 80s and 90s, and if IT doesn't get on board … you'll become 'shadow IT,'" he said.
Industry jobs will change in terms of what staff needs to learn and manage. They need to learn cloud skills, as some of the most desirable skills on the job market today, said Andrew Reichman, president of Reichman IT, an independent IT analysis firm based in Seattle.
"It's a bit of a different skill set, so if you have some dug-in employees who don't want to change, that can be a problem," he said.
Although there's some potential to lose IT staff because of a cloud deployment, most organizations just need IT to learn those skills. And if a company is adding cloud due to its internal growth, it is probably hiring more people rather than losing staff anyway, Reichman said.
In addition, cloud and mobility coming into the enterprise presents IT teams with an opportunity to do more, not less, said Eric Klein, senior analyst at VDC Research, an IT advisory firm based in Natick, Mass.
"IT has the opportunity to be more involved," he said. "Especially with the aspects of how mobile will be used to augment the business."
Alyssa Wood is the site editor for SearchConsumerization.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.