Word to the Wise IT Pro: Master the Cloud

The world of IT is ever changing. Back when I started writing about computers in 1984, smart IT folks were leaving jobs managing mainframes and learning about microcomputers and early local area networks (LAN). That turned out to be a career blessing.

These days a transformation of the same magnitude is occurring in the form of the move from on-premises to cloud computing.

In the mainframe days, MIS Directors often were responsible for bringing in LANs, micro-based servers and PCs, and hired staff to manage all this. Mainframe operators, in the meantime, became LAN and application managers and PC technicians.

Decades later, some of these positions still exist, even though the actual work retains little resemblance to the original duties.

The cloud likewise offers opportunities for all levels of IT. CIOs and other IT pros can prove themselves by driving high-level strategy and widespread adoption.

The move to cloud, at least for a portion of your computing functions, is inevitable so you might as well get ahead of this curve.

According to IDC, IT services in the cloud are growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.5 percent. That’s five times faster than the overall IT industry.

You can be part of this movement by becoming expert in the cloud business case. That involves analyzing whether a move to the cloud makes economic as well as technical sense. Does the cloud OPEX-based model offer true advantages over the CAPEX focus of on-premises computing? Rather than get caught up in the excitement over the cloud, take an objective fact-based look.

This kind of economic insight can help IT pros find the most economic approach to cloud services, rather than diving in without a thought and being swamped with unforeseen costs.

While the economics of the cloud can be compelling, a report from Deloitte, Technology in the Mid-Market — Taking Ownership, shows the main driver for cloud adoption is its strategic value. Some 56% of those polled said their goal with the cloud is to “increase flexibility to scale, acquire, divest’” Meanwhile just 24.6% said the driver was to “reduce IT CAPEX/OPEX costs”.

A successful move to cloud services positions IT pros as true business and technology leaders. And because the cloud offers application and data access from anywhere and most any device, you will be a hero to management and end users alike.

Transforming Your Work – CIO Level

Just as the cloud transforms how end users access applications, it revolutionizes how the work of IT is performed – mostly for the better.

For CIO level types, this means you need new skills from your staff, or even need to make add new staff to gain these talents. Depending on how aggressively you make the move, your infrastructure will shift. There will be fewer servers and perhaps even fewer storage arrays. Instead, the center of the universe becomes the network.

By reinventing yourself as a strategic and business cloud expert, you are setting up your IT executive career to prosper well into the future. At the same time you have transformed your workload, no longer managing as many pure admin and hardware maintenance workers, freeing you and your staff to become more focused on strategic IT work.

Transforming Your Work – Admin Level

Moving to the cloud offers major benefits for IT admins. If you are an admin, you can push for these changes, and get credit for making your company’s IT operations far more efficient and responsive to end user needs.

There are two areas you can get involved in the process. First, you can advocate that your IT management and security tools move from on-premises to cloud services. For one, the cost model goes from CAPEX to OPEX. This way, the tools update themselves, require less infrastructure (reducing IT grunt work), and involve less vendor lock-in. It is far easier to switch cloud services than swap out on-premises software solutions.

Cloud IT solutions change how these tools are used. With the cloud, admins can access management solutions wherever they are, even through mobile devices. You have made your job easier, and demonstrated leading-edge technical and strategic thinking.

Then, there are the end user applications. Here, you can also take a leading role. Let’s say your Microsoft Exchange e-mail system is a real chore to manage and maintain, and expensive to upgrade, often requiring new server hardware and operating system upgrades to migrate to new versions. Even as an admin, you can take the lead in looking at cloud alternatives such as Microsoft Office 365.

There is an array of applications that make sense in the cloud. Research from CompTIA found three applications customers most want in the cloud. “As cloud components are becoming more prevalent in IT architectures, more companies are relying on cloud computing for business processes such as storage (59 percent), business continuity/disaster recovery (48 percent), and security (44 percent),” the CompTIA research discovered.

Monitor and Fix your Cloud with Traverse

The cloud presents special network management challenges for IT. That’s because internal IT doesn’t have full control of the provider’s cloud infrastructure or a full view of all the network pieces that support these cloud applications and services.

And while IT struggles to monitor and manage the cloud, it still needs to take care of internal networks and even hybrid cloud configurations. Kaseya Traverse is a full-featured network monitoring solution designed to holistically monitor performance across on-premises, cloud and hybrid infrastructure.

With Kaseya Traverse, IT staff can view even the most complex infrastructure based on service-level views. This service-oriented view enables fast root cause analysis, so network and service problems, especially regarding the cloud, are quickly resolved and don’t hold operations up.

Learn more about Kaseya Traverse here.

Make Office 365 Manageable with 365 Command

If you are an IT manager moving to or using Microsoft Office 365, the web-based portal of Kaseya 365 Command gives is the ticket to efficient management which in turn saves time and money.

You can use 365 Command to add or remove users, manage multiple customers or clients from one console, monitor and generate reports to determine usage and compliance, improve security, and more, all with a just a few clicks. There’s nothing to download – even better, 365 Command doesn’t install agents on your devices. Instead, you simply access the 365 Command portal to perform management tasks and generate reports.

See for yourself how 365 Command by Kaseya gives you more effective management over Office 365 by taking a free trial.

Posted by Doug Barney
Doug Barney was the founding editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News and Virtualization Review. Doug also served as Executive Editor of Network World, Editor in Chief of AmigaWorld, and Editor in Chief of Network Computing.
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