15. April 2021

“The cloud is turning IT staff from administrators into designers”


Cloud // For many companies, relocating large parts of their IT services to the cloud is an integral part of their digitalization strategy. The undisputed advantages of a cloud strategy, however, require a few additional steps, particularly in IT departments. Comprehensive cloud governance requires employees and managers of IT organizations to develop new skills, and offers them the opportunity to completely reposition themselves.

Why do you want the cloud? Surely not because you have an overwhelming urge to put your valuable company data in the hands of an external organization, possibly even a large US corporation. And probably not because you want offers from the cloud to dictate your company’s processes and working methods, either. No, but you stomach it anyway, because you’ve been faced with new requirements that can no longer be met with the usual on-premise model.
Market dynamics demand the fast implementation of a series of new digital business models in your company. These, in turn, are based on the processing and evaluation of huge quantities of data and eat up huge amounts of computing power at peak times. They might also be based on completely new libraries or infrastructures, for which you have neither the capacity nor the know-how. In this case too, the cloud can help. It becomes one of, if not “the” go-to strategic initiatives as part of a digitalization strategy.

Cloud governance
As is appropriate given this strategic importance, the tasks facing an IT department when switch­ing to a cloud based enterprise architecture are not solely operational in nature. How does the IT department ensure that the portfolio of cloud services really meets the needs of the company, at any given moment? How does it select new services; how does it adapt existing requirements to new requirements; and how will it elegantly drop services that are no longer needed? How does it check whether the cloud services are really hitting the agreed levels of performance and availability? And, last but not least, how does it ensure that your data and  applications are being shielded from attacks? 
All these questions and tasks have very little to do with the classic “operation” of company applications. In a purely cloud company, there are no more servers, no more software updates, and incidents are no longer remedied in-house. As a result, your employees’ job profile is reshaped. They go from being “operatives” to “managers”. In fact, they become managers of their company’s entire digital capability, which is of course essential in a highly digitalized company. Accordingly, the effectiveness of the “cloud governance” also covers the entire spectrum of digital value creation. 

Administration and design
And if we’re talking about “managers”, we mean both the “administrators” and the  “designers” — a quality that has perhaps been less sought-after in company IT departments  to date. Now, however, this IT department draws on the accumulated innovative power of the big cloud providers and a huge ecosystem of service providers. This means services are available that enable you to gather and correlate huge data quantities as well as to evaluate them — using sophisticated analysis processes, machine learning, or speech recognition. It’s easy enough today to use powerful image and pattern recognition services, just as it is to set up a blockchain.
The range of standardized and easy-to-integrate business services in the cloud ecosystem is growing steadily. As such, the company IT department goes from playing the role of “blocker” (“We don’t have enough people for that; we can’t afford that”) to the role of designer, and even enabler. It is their job to introduce all these new possibilities to the business, and to anticipate and harness their impact on the core business of the company. Thus, IT becomes a “business”; evolving from its status as a mere instrument to become a (co)designer of the company. 

Expertise and the power of innovation
The value that IT brings to a company lies increasingly in its profound understanding of emerging technologies and on its ability to eval­uate both potentials and risks for the company business. Consequently, working methods shift from long-term specialized engineering competence, oriented towards longevity and stability, to short decision-making and application cycles, based on a wide spectrum of technology. Generalists with an affinity for business, sup­­plemented by a number of highly-qualified security and infrastructure experts, will form the employee base of an IT department. Instead of long-running migration, integration and development projects, short design sprints or MVP cycles (like in the format of the ti&m garage) characterize everyday work life. 
The trio of agility, innovation and technology plays an instrumental role in the company’s digitalization. Which brings us to the core of a cloud adaption in a company: The “hard work” i.e. the daily battle for stability, security and performance is performed by the few (the cloud providers) for the many (the companies). This gives the companies the freedom they need to invest in innovative power, all to keep them prepared for the future. If they don’t do this, even the cloud can’t help them. 

More on the cloud with ti&m here

Martin Fabini
Martin Fabini

Martin Fabini has worked in IT for over 20 years. At ti&m, he introduces clients to new business cases with new technologies.

Karsten Burger
Karsten Burger

Karsten Burger has been Head of Innovation Hosting at ti&m since 2014. His IT career is mainly dedicated to infrastructure, operation and the cloud.