Private cloud will shake up traditional IT roles

A move to private cloud will transform what CIOs need from their IT teams. Sanjay Mirchandani, Senior VP and CIO at EMC, shares his vision of how private cloud will reshape IT roles and how leaders should prepare now to cross-train their best and brightest.


Rather than a traditional data centre, the private cloud uses highly virtualised pools of compute, storage and network capabilities to optimise IT performance and utilisation while providing the business with services that improve efficiency and agility. This offers organisations a way to circumvent the increasing complexity, inflexibility and cost of IT environments to be more competitive in the market place through greater efficiency, control, choice, quality of service and most importantly business agility.

We need to spend more of our budgets on building new value and assets rather than spending precious dollars on, "keeping the lights on." Introducing the cloud!

However, the journey to the private cloud can also be hazy. It is not only fundamentally changing the way technology is built, sourced, governed and consumed, but also transforming the traditional skills IT professionals need to deploy and manage private clouds.

So, what does this mean for you and your team of IT professionals? Opportunity.

Private cloud computing is transforming the IT organization and evolving IT personnel competencies. This not only means a deeper understanding of traditional core technologies, but a wider, converged skill set across the spectrum of critical technologies from virtualisation to storage to big data to security.

First, IT professionals will need a deeper understanding of their traditional core competency to apply it within a private cloud. For instance, a storage administrator will need to delve deeper into his or her skills to straddle the physical and virtual worlds and provision storage for the cloud not for one or few applications.

Second, IT professionals will also need a wider skill set to transcend the traditional IT silos. For example, who would you call to deploy, manage and support a Vblock incorporating best-of-breed converged Cisco, EMC and VMware technologies? The three people within your IT organisation that each oversee storage, networking or virtualisation environments, or just one person whose skills span all three competencies? Clearly, someone who has a stronger competency across all of these technologies will be beneficial as you embark on the cloud. Notice, I haven't even mentioned security, which needs to be built in and not bolted on, in the cloud!

Third, with the adoption of the private cloud, IT must be one with the business. In my years as an IT professional, I've seen waves of technology come and go. But, the private cloud alters the playing field by tightly aligning with the business and its dynamic technology needs.

If we can deliver what the business wants as a catalogue of service offerings, then life changes. This is not just a change in jargon and roles, but in the overall conversation and approach you have with the business to understand their needs, how the new service catalogue built on the private cloud meets these needs and how the private cloud will deliver a better cost model while improving agility and value. This will be a core competency for IT professionals riding the latest wave of innovation in IT.

This brings us to a very important question. As a CIO, what can you do enable your team to excel in their careers on this journey to the private cloud?

Once you've committed to virtualising the majority of your IT environment and embracing the cloud, you should begin transitioning your internal data centre, infrastructure, people and processes to the private cloud. Since 2009, EMC IT has been establishing new business and technology teams within our organisation and developing new roles and responsibilities to traverse the shifting IT landscape. Processes are being redefined, streamlined and even thrown out, while others are being introduced to ensure resources are optimally assigned and business demand was being met.

You must also challenge your employees and give them an environment where they want to work. Within EMC IT's organisation, we try to balance it between their expectations and our capabilities and provide a structured global programme to mentor them and build their careers. Additionally, we continue to offer extensive training programmes that were developed specifically for the transition to the cloud to help employees understand their new roles. This will provide your best and brightest with the skills they need as the climb into the cloud and deliver services to the business.

The private cloud is both revolutionary and evolutionary. To enable this elasticity of capabilities, employees must ride this wave of change by cross-training and broadening the skills across platforms and applications to build, manage and support private clouds. This is a chance for employees to test and strengthen their skills, challenge today's IT fundamentals on how things are built and run, evolve into a different, compelling role and focus on more value-added opportunities for not only their organisation, but also their careers.

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