Cloud computing is transforming enterprise IT roles and responsibilities


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I’m often asked why cloud computing is seen as transformational. We readily acknowledge that the move from mainframe to client/server, the proliferation of personal computing, and the explosive growth of the Internet have fundamentally changed the way we interact with IT. In my opinion, the cloud has already affected a change of this magnitude, but many private and public sector organizations have been slow to understand its impact on their enterprise.

Data, services, and applications now are widely available on demand, anywhere, from any device, at little or no cost, and to any user. Users also have nearly universal access to high-speed network connectivity, effectively freeing them from reliance on the enterprise network and its controls. This new found freedom means that users may completely by-pass the traditional controls over purchasing set by the CFO, CIO, and IT department.

It is now difficult for organizations to control “IT sprawl” due to the many commercial devices, applications, and services available to users.

Under traditional, centrally-managed models, user choice often has been limited in order to provide what is determined to be best for the organization overall. As a result, enterprise-provided IT services are often viewed as cumbersome and not responsive to the rapidly changing business or mission. Users now can and will find the best tool for the job on their own and use it. The ensuing proliferation has far reaching implications. This can leave the enterprise open to unintended issues in fiscal control, data protection, compatibility, and licensing, to mention just a few.

On the flip side, organizations can also benefit from this new user- driven, mobile and cloud- centric IT. How? IT departments need to re-examine their role in the enterprise within this new style of IT:

  • They need to transform to the brokers of low-cost access to the services the users and mission program leaders want and need.
  • They need to be the managers of “corporate” information assets that are spread across a diverse multi-tenant, multi-supplier ecosystem.
  • They can work in partnership with the business mission areas and the CFO to control spending and ensure that economies of scale and strategic sourcing initiatives are accomplished; leveraging the enterprise’s buying power while offering reasonable choice.
  • In short – there is an urgent need to focus on monitoring and managing optimum access to external services and internal systems. And, there is an urgent need to help users make good choices from among appropriate, rapid, and economical IT sources that meet enterprise mission needs.

The real opportunity is to facilitate and broker the sources of IT in a way that retains needed enterprise visibility and control while bringing economic value.

In the new style of IT, the traditional roles of CIO, CFO, IT support, service provider, business owner, and even user are changing dramatically. There is a role reversal of sorts with the user driving the adoption of IT services while the CIO and IT staff serve in a coordination and broker role. The CFO plays a much more important role with responsibility to ensure the promise of reduced cost and better cost control is realized.

I think the brokering role for the CFO and IT staff is still evolving as roles within the enterprise are being redefined. A good enterprise service broker should advise the business mission units, provide facilitating technologies and business arrangements, and work to ensure the most effective use of these new cloud services. There is great potential to bring rapid innovation and lower cost to the enterprise. It all begins with a clear understanding of the information and services the organization needs, and the risk associated with loss of control. So, could it be that the real transformation of cloud computing is the gift of a more responsive and effective organization?

Note: This blog topic will be explored further in HP’s upcoming “Manage the Transition to Cloud Computing” white paper. The paper, developed by HP’s team of Public Sector subject matter experts – James Bond, Chief Technologist; Michael Donovan, HP Distinguished Technologist; Judy Douglas, Government Client Industry Executive; Dan Gilbert, HP Strategist and Mateen Greenway, Fellow, CT UK&I PS – will address relevant challenges facing public sector customers.

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