When discussing migration to the cloud, the use of hybrid cloud and all other cloud-related issues, people generally place the focus on the technology itself. What sometimes gets overlooked is the group of individuals who are — or at least, should be — responsible for the precise and successful integration of cloud into a company’s lifecycle. Many people should be sitting at the table for this discussion.
Because the cloud is largely an IT issue, many companies like to defer the entire package to the IT department. But the IT people should not be the only ones involved. Cloud is just too big, and too all-encompassing, for any one group to shoulder the responsibility. Most IT managers would readily agree to this.
To this end, an organization should consider a roundtable of specialists, carefully chosen and capable of contributing their particular expertise to the ongoing policy of cloud integration. Ideally, this group should consist of the following, listed in no particular order:
A project manager. A qualified individual who can create and update a project plan and timeline, and make it available to the entire team. A project such as cloud migration requires competent and professional oversight.
People who understand the terminology. There is a great deal of new and sometimes confusing terminology that can offset, delay or just obscure the migration project. This individual must be capable of clearly understanding and translating cloud terminology to the rest of the group, using strategic language.
A person or people capable of identifying, researching and interviewing trustworthy cloud service providers, and creating and maintaining an updatable database of existing suppliers.
People who have a direct connection to the end user, both internal and external. If cloud-based technologies result in a change in performance or usability, then the team needs individuals who can oversee and guide this transition, and most importantly who can listen to the end users.
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A coordinator of shadow IT. Given that most IT departments are already very busy, a shadow IT department, or project-specific group, may be required. Such a team must integrate with the existing IT matrix to ensure clear communication and collaboration, and to balance loads as needed.
A cloud security specialist. Cloud security is a slightly different animal from regular IT security. Cloud security professionals work in conjunction with internal IT security, but are becoming more specialized and certified, in order to deal with the ever-increasing number of threats. This type of specialist could be an external vendor or an internal employee.
A cloud backup/transition specialist. Numerous experts in the cloud field recommend that migrations happen over a series of steps, rather than a general move, and that there always be an “Undo” option that allows quick backtracking to a previously saved state, should something go awry.
A real-time metrics analyst. In the age of cloud, real-time data is king. Cloud-based applications – from customer-facing commerce through to back-end administration – need to be carefully monitored, using the easily available data that digital technology provides.
A specialist in comparative intelligence. Cloud and its related online digital technologies change very quickly. The competitive, global economy allows for new companies to enter the race, sometimes offering a better, more sophisticated approach to sales, fulfilment and every other element of commerce. An individual tasked with the role of constantly observing the competition in the field is essential.
An HR or training specialist. New technologies bring change into an organization. Employees do not always welcome change. In some cases, they will resist and even try to sabotage new techniques that cause fear and insecurity. The specialist from HR or corporate training is an essential player at the table to ensure that new developments are introduced and massaged into the organizational culture, comfortably and proactively.
A neutral mentor. Mentors are an important component of individual professional success, and they should also be part of a company’s ongoing life. A neutral guide sitting at the table can provide wisdom, experience and advice, while not holding a vested interest.
Cloud-savvy legal advice. The global nature of cloud serves up a large palette of legal issues, ranging from compliance to content, and demands up-to-date awareness and guidance.
This makes for a very large table indeed. It is not necessary for these and other members of management to physically sit at an actual table, but it does require ongoing and regular communication even if done virtually. A large team is still manageable, especially when each individual has their specific, clearly defined role. This will allow for the clarification of some obvious but often overlooked must-haves, such as the organization’s mandate of what “cloud” actually means.
With so much of a company’s life force moving to the cloud, this small, coordinated army of specialists is critical in advising senior management in every area of cloud strategy.
For more on this topic, go to http://businessvalueexchange.com, sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
By Steve Prentice