Moving to the Cloud Means New Governance, New Skills

By Datalink

Any companies that are shifting data, applications, and workloads to the cloud and expecting to see little change within the IT realm are in for a rude awakening.

The fact is, the emergence of the public cloud as a resource for application development, application hosting, and IT infrastructure changes the way organization’s handle data governance. It also requires the addition of new management and process skills. Essentially, you can’t use all of the same processes that worked when everything was located on-premises.

Although leveraging the public cloud removes some responsibilities from IT departments, the data and workloads still need to be monitored and managed. New cloud operational disciplines are required for cost management, cost optimization, and security given that what was done in the past when virtually all IT was handled out of the internally-run data center is no longer the case.

The use of cloud services comes with new governance tasks that previously didn’t exist for enterprises — or existed in a different form. For example, cloud services need to be monitored continuously by experts who can identify issues related to performance, reliability, security, etc., and respond to issues immediately.

You can’t expect to have success with the cloud if services are left unattended or are only checked on an occasional basis. With recent news of cloud providers experiencing outages, client services without the proper monitoring are left unaware and reacting too late to changing situations. Too much is riding on the cloud, especially with offerings such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).   

Failure to monitor cloud services could result in privacy and security vulnerabilities. That can lead to costly data breaches and regulatory compliance failures that have a material impact on the company. It can also lead to poor performance or unavailability of applications for the business users who need them.

In some cases organizations will want to deploy tools or services to help them monitor the cloud and understand what’s happening with cloud performance. That might also require the addition of new skills and tools.

In addition to monitoring, companies using the cloud must take on a number of administrative tasks. These include provisioning new assets or services, managing change configuration, reporting and analyzing costs of cloud services, and optimizing cloud consumption.

If companies don’t handle these administrative functions well, the result could be “cloud overload” and unnecessary spending. One of the big IT management concerns of recent years has been “shadow IT,” where individual business lines, departments, or groups deploy cloud services without the oversight or even knowledge of the central IT function. Having a strong cloud administration function in place might help prevent these scenarios.

Good administrative skills can also help organizations better align cloud resources to the changing needs of the organization. Use of the cloud typically is no longer a simple matter of deploying one or two public cloud services from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, or another provider. Many organizations are deploying multi-cloud strategies, where they use a number of providers and services including IaaS, Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). Managing the shifting needs of the organization in the midst of multiple clouds is becoming an increasingly complex task.

Moving workloads to the cloud also involves making changes in the way processes are handled or in the way applications perform. Someone needs to oversee change management to ensure a smooth transition.

These monitoring and administrative functions are just a few examples of the new governance skills and capabilities companies will need to have as they move increasingly to the cloud.

Before making a big shift to this environment, it’s important to conduct an honest self-assessment to determine just how ready the organization is to transition to the cloud. Organizations that lack cloud maturity should consider partnering with an outside expert than can help ensure that the right resources are in place to promote success.