The IT roles you need for cloud transition
Even as the pandemic has rapidly accelerated rates of cloud migration, many organisations still have concerns about switching to this technology. Although they can probably appreciate the benefits, with cloud computing offering more agility, flexibility, and scalability - to name a few - actually making the move can be a daunting prospect.
For a start, it requires a lot of planning, particularly around the roles and responsibilities of different members of the IT team. Old roles will disappear, new ones will emerge, and IT leaders must ensure they have the skills and capabilities required to not only migrate their applications to the cloud, but to then manage them successfully once this process is complete.
The old world and the new
In the old world of IT, on-premise solutions required complete management of the technology stack. IT teams were therefore responsible for a wide variety of functions, comprising everything from networking and storage to data and applications. Likely roles in a team included network engineers, database engineers, system admins, and software engineers, who would all be directed by an IT manager.
In cloud computing, on the other hand, the networking, storage, and server or virtualisation components of the system become abstracted and don’t require management in-house or through an outsourced partner. The level of responsibility an organisation has for the different parts of its technology stack vary according to what kind of cloud solution they choose, with everything else outsourced to a cloud provider such as Microsoft, Amazon or Google.
New roles and skills
As we have noted, when transitioning to the cloud much of the emphasis of traditional IT is moved to management, code, and automation and away from conventional networking, data storage, and low level skillsets. (In this context, that's those who deal with the inner workings of a technology at the software or hardware level.) Some new roles and skills are therefore needed for a transition. This doesn't necessarily mean replacing people, but it does present an excellent opportunity for staff to learn new skills and form part of a reimagined operation.
By adopting an agile operating mode, engineering culture and embracing DevOps, these teams can move away from the traditional siloed design, build, and run model, which largely confines IT departments to a supporting role within the wider organisation. With modern ways of working and cloud infrastructure, IT is instead able to work more collaboratively with service-based teams and to itself be a driving force for innovation.
Some of the new roles in a cloud-first organisation might include:
- Cloud service manager: managing cloud and financial contracts
- Cloud architect: creating technical architectures in a cloud environment
- Cloud engineer: multi-functional, managing environments and integrations
- DevOps engineer: automating environments and deployments
- Cybersecurity engineer: managing security considerations of data being in the cloud
Making the move
When approaching cloud migration it is crucial to prepare. A thorough understanding is required of the current roles and resources in the IT team, and how this will change.
The team must:
- Check current resources and spend
- Build a financial model for each future state
- Confirm the number of roles needed
It is also important to note that when migrating to the cloud, different roles are needed during the transition and the final target states.
The transition state is about moving towards a fully Cloud Native approach whilst maintaining legacy platforms and infrastructure to ensure operational reliability. In general, the goal of the transition period is to re-skill existing staff and to reduce the use of partners until the work can be managed in-house.
The target state is where the organisation is fully Cloud Native, and independently managing its own cloud environment. A key aspiration is to shift the operating model towards cross-functional squads as well as a more product-centric approach. The tasks and roles required will therefore reflect this.
Complicating the move to the cloud slightly is the fact that the cloud computing industry continues to rapidly change and evolve. Serverless technology in particular is starting to gain more traction, as it requires even less management of the technology stack and enables software engineers to focus solely on creating applications.
It's therefore worth bearing in mind that the journey to cloud and the end point for organisations may change during the transition period as new opportunities emerge. This again underlines the importance of a robust strategy for building in-house capabilities, so that organisations are able to adapt, meet their aims, and take full advantage of all the benefits cloud computing has to offer.
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Authors and contributors
Stuart is a strategic and innovative CTO with strong leadership, technical, and delivery skills with broad and deep experience across a range of different sectors and cloud technology platforms.
Research and Insights Manager
Sarah is renowned for her ability to communicate complex concepts with clarity. She plays a central role in managing the insights programme at Foundry4.