Cloud isn't making IT irrelevant; IT is doing that itself

Not keeping ahead of user demand gives users rein to go ahead on their own.

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According to IDC, 80 percent of new enterprise apps being developed this year will be developed for the cloud rather than traditional data centers.

That's a lot of movement toward the cloud, even if the bulk of it is custom development tuned to one specific company.

Handled correctly, thinking about the cloud and SAAS apps as a legitimate part of the IT infrastructure – that have to be secured, backed up, managed by policies for security, compliance, availablity and resource use – the cloud becomes the flexible, easily accessible portion of an IT infrastructure every CIO ever wanted.

Handled incorrectly – allowing business unit managers to buy the apps they want without any controls, coordination or integration – and IT will quickly lose not only control over what happens to its data, but will lose even an idea of how many SAAS apps are using that data.

IDC Analyst Rick Villers suggests using "shared cache" as a fourth leg of the infrastructure currently made up of servers, storage and networks.

He's talking about a literal cache that allows for much higher performance of distributed systems that can read/write into what is essentially a giant pool of RAM rather than waiting to talk to individual storage arrays with individual bits of data.

Shared cache works better as a metaphor, though, with IT as the cache from which apps can be ordered quickly, VMs can be spun up transparently, licenses can be bought, managed and paid for according to metered use, contracts with external providers can go through due diligence to troubleshoot SLA and cost portions, and all the security, compliance and other policies can be created, housed and applied across all a corporation's internal and external cloud-based infrastructure.

In that role IT does asset management, contract and vendor supervision, contract negotiations, service monitoring and all the other levels of oversight IT provides for services it outsources itself.

IDC SAAS and cloud analyst Robert Mahowald predicts IT will become a broker of cloud services to the business units. That can only happen if it's easier to get a cloud app from IT than directly – something that's extremely rare right now.

The cloud is so disruptive, adoption of it is moving so fast, and IT organizations are so traditionally unfocused on dynamic organization and management of their own processes, rather than managing the technology, that it is the organization and management of IT itself that is holding back some of the migrations, weakening IT's control over enterprise cloud assets, and making their own future role a lot more tentative than it has to be.

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