Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Stefan Bernbo, TJ Randall

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Conquering the Cloud: Skills to Master in a Services-Based World

The rise and adoption of cloud services fundamentally changes the role of the IT professional

In a recent survey of IT pros, not only did cloud computing rank as a top three technology both as most disruptive and as most significant to business over the past three to five years, but it ranked as the number one technology investment most needed for businesses to remain competitive in the next three to five years.

In short, the cloud is here, and it's here to stay. We're naturally seeing many enterprises move to the cloud, at least in a hybrid traditional computing-cloud approach (for now). As more cloud-based services are born, the shift will only accelerate. This begs the question, what does all this mean for today's IT pro?

Does the cloud mean the end of the IT pro?
The rise and adoption of cloud services fundamentally changes the role of the IT professional. Some even argue that the demand for particular IT jobs may disappear altogether. That may sound ominous, but some aspects of IT will indeed change and many things IT pros do today will go away. Some companies may get to the point where they have to ask themselves if enough of the IT infrastructure remains on premise to justify maintaining current internal IT roles.

However, IT will not go extinct because of the shift to the cloud. In fact, it presents IT pros with an opportunity to do something absolutely critical to business success and that no one else is in a better position to do: manage and integrate these cloud services into existing business systems. This will be key for IT pros who want to remain relevant in the new services-based world.

Become cloud leaders
To remain relevant, IT pros must embrace the cloud, not be afraid of it. Business leaders have become more tech-savvy, yes, but they lack the IT skills needed to navigate the transition from traditional computing to cloud computing. This is where today's IT pro can step up as a leader in the new cloud environment, but it will take work.

Leveraging cloud services is not the same as delivering similar services from on-premise systems. In some cases, like IaaS and PaaS, IT pros will have to learn new ways of creating and deploying systems and applications. With a hybrid approach, IT pros will be challenged with managing a unified system running on different infrastructure in different places. For SaaS, the challenge will largely revolve around ensuring performance with only the data and management options provided by the vendor along with integration of the information provided by that vendor with other cloud or on premise systems to meet business objectives.

In light of these challenges and a few others, here are several steps IT pros need to take to survive in the services-based world:

  • Understand cloud services and technologies: As a starting point, IT pros need to know the key cloud services options available - SaaS, PaaS and IaaS. But it's not enough just to understand the options, it's important to determine what options work best for the business. For example, a small business that uses standard applications may benefit from SaaS, but larger enterprises that use a multitude of applications both standard and custom may benefit from a combination of services such as IaaS and PaaS. IT pros need to empower themselves to build and implement these solutions while also ensuring they're operating at optimal performance levels.
  • Ensure proper application and system integration: IT pros need to develop new skills around integrating cloud services with existing internal business systems or other cloud services to meet company-specific needs. If a company plans to primarily use cloud in a hybrid approach, IT pros will need to understand both their traditional job, how a related SaaS, IaaS or PaaS solution works and how to integrate them.
  • Become an IT security guru: While the cloud isn't necessarily less secure than on-premise systems, the security implications and risks of the cloud are slightly different. IT pros will need to learn the different cloud design models and related security tools available to help build a strong solution and increase confidence from business leaders.
  • Develop business skills: Understanding cloud technologies, their security implications and how to integrate applications and systems is crucial. Yet, IT pros need to take it to the next level and ensure IT priorities align with business objectives and needs. This skill is especially important as SaaS-type applications allow more IT decisions to be made by business people without the current levels of dependency on IT. Being able to understand the implementation, operations, management, integration and security of cloud systems in context of business requirements will be a valuable skill indeed.

Cloud computing is only one of the many emerging technologies impacting the way IT works today, but it is perhaps the most pervasive. IT pros must remain nimble, learning new skills and adapting to new technology trends while also understanding how these trends align with business strategies. This will empower IT pros to continually adapt their role and take a seat at the table as business bottom lines become increasingly reliant on technology.

More Stories By Michael Thompson

Michael Thompson is Director of Systems Management Business at SolarWinds.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smart...
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
An IoT product’s log files speak volumes about what’s happening with your products in the field, pinpointing current and potential issues, and enabling you to predict failures and save millions of dollars in inventory. But until recently, no one knew how to listen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dan Gettens, Chief Research Officer at OnProcess, discussed recent research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and OnProcess Technology, where MIT created a new, breakthrough analytics model for s...
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2017 New York. The 20th Cloud Expo and 7th @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Internet to enable us all to im...
"We are the public cloud providers. We are currently providing 50% of the resources they need for doing e-commerce business in China and we are hosting about 60% of mobile gaming in China," explained Yi Zheng, CPO and VP of Engineering at CDS Global Cloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We are a custom software development, engineering firm. We specialize in cloud applications from helping customers that have on-premise applications migrating to the cloud, to helping customers design brand new apps in the cloud. And we specialize in mobile apps," explained Peter Di Stefano, Vice President of Marketing at Impiger Technologies, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busin...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and sh...
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Valentin (Val) Bercovici, CTO of Soli...
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...