Moving some or all of your computing operations to the cloud is seen by many as a good way to reduce many of the management and resource demands associated with IT operations. Still, while public cloud may remove the burden of hosting the infrastructure, the resulting changes required to operations, governance, and management structures can be as significant and far reaching as the move to virtualization itself was.
To tackle these changes, organizations are turning to a new role – the cloud architect – to lead the move to public cloud. There’s no doubt that cloud architects are in high demand. In its 2016 Cloud Computing Survey of 925 IT and business decision makers, IDG Enterprise found that 35% of the enterprise respondents (those with at least 1,000 employees) had added cloud architects/engineers as part of their cloud investments.
Cloud architects are typically responsible for strategy, architecture, and platform selection and are also often times going beyond the role of the traditional enterprise architect and reaching down into the depths of management tool selection, capacity planning, budgeting, and day to day operations. To accomplish this requires both the technical skills a keen understanding of the business, its goals, and how it leverages technology in order to bring together a solution that meets its needs. This is a heavy burden for any one position, and as the adoption of cloud expands, it will only get worse. Organizations may very well face a difficult choice in building out cloud teams – hire those that understand the business or hire those with the technical know-how in these new school environments. Gurus that can do both will become harder and harder to find.
When forced with this choice, a logical path forward is to have your staff focus on the unique demands of your business, and look for products or tools to cover the technical details of the cloud. This makes sense, since the complexities of cloud configuration and pricing options, along with variations in usage and evolutions of technology, can easily outpace the understanding of any team, much less any individual. But as many organizations are finding, many of the public cloud management tools also have difficulty keeping up with the rapid pace of change, and focus more on providing general visibility than truly actionable recommendations. This places the burden back on the teams to manually interpret the output they create, which often creates even more of a burden.
Rather than looking for a software tool to adopt, cloud architects should consider looking at vendors that offer both the analysis technology and the teams behind them with the expertise to use them. These next-generation services embody a new way of consuming software, where the customer no longer bears the burden of learning, using and interpreting the technology, but is focused instead on ensuring the business gets value out of the outcomes. For technology teams, this may represent a mind shift, but for technology leaders with years of history of broken promises of software ROI under their belt, this change is long past due. Densify is one such service company, having recently transitioned from being and enterprise software vendor focused on delivering analytics for virtual infrastructure optimization to that of a cloud optimization service. The company delivers increased efficiency while they lower costs and risks for their customers, but they take a hands on approach to ensure their customers only have to worry about outcomes.
In the end, companies really do have the opportunity to slash their capital expenses, their operational costs, and their IT headcounts by shifting operations to the public cloud. But they shouldn’t assume that one person, be it a cloud architect or another specialist, can adequately cover all of the cloud’s demands. Just like public cloud is changing how organizations think about infrastructure resources, they need to adjust their approaches to enabling management of these environments in order to do so effectively.