As an IT leader, it is imperative that you recognize the human element in the move to cloud management and reassure your team that the cloud creates opportunities.
By Jessica Carroll
Are you comfortable with being uncomfortable? If you’re a technology professiona,l it’s a necessary attribute. The one constant in technology is rapid and unpredictable change and one obvious example of technology forcing change is the cloud, where reshaping resource structure and skills is now both necessary and difficult at the same time.
The cloud can be an enabler and, if used smartly, gives the IT team the ability to support the company’s mission by focusing technology on business growth in a nimble, adaptable way rather than commodity tasks, such as racking, stacking and patching servers. For teams that have cut their teeth on building, touching and baby-sitting servers, the cloud can be a disturbing and disruptive concept to swallow.
So how do we get our team fully engaged in transforming what they know about infrastructure management into a successful cloud integrated organization? The key is in the team dynamic and helping them realize the opportunities in the shifting roles. As an IT leader it is imperative that you recognize the human element in the move to cloud management.
Even with my own teams, where we have used and seen the benefit of the cloud for disaster recovery and SaaS software for years, there was great skepticism when we started talking about moving more of our core applications to the cloud. The message back to me that “we can monitor, we are fully redundant, we’ll stand by our data center,” defied the facts. There was no question that to staff and create system redundancies to the level that our customers required was simply a math problem that no longer worked. To help bridge your team’s transition, you have to understand the underlying message and that they’re telling you they’re “skilled and dedicated” and they don’t want the familiar or their jobs to go away.
But moving to the cloud does not have to be about taking away, it should be about transforming roles and responsibilities. Skills in vendor management become critical. Expanded monitoring and performance reporting for the network, servers and applications are imperative in cloud management. Bridging operations, release management and application support is a discipline that is hot right now. Understanding and managing application integrations across environments will also continue to grow in importance as cloud usage expands. Operations teams are perfectly poised to take on these new skills as their understanding of customer service and the discipline around service management is their natural sweet spot.
Here was my challenge to my team: I knew they wanted to grow in their skills and responsibilities, so what if they could hand off commodity tasks and put time and attention in new areas? What if they could focus on projects that were more visibly integrated within the business, what if they learned something new, what if they grew their resume!
Change is uncomfortable but an awareness of how to coach your teams through this shift is where you’ll ultimately find success in building a winning cloud integrated support team. It is essential we both challenge our teams to walk the cloud path but that we also share a clear vision of what benefits both the team members and the business will gain by taking that trip together.
Jessica Carroll, most recently managing director for Information Technologies at the United States Golf Association, has more than 20 years in the technology industry. A speaker on the topic of cloud computing, she was named a 2010 Computer World Premier 100 IT Leader, and currently serves as the executive vice president on the Foundation Board of NJ Society for Information Management. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.