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Cloud Management Could Change the CIO's Role

The clear future direction is in the cloud

It's no secret that cloud computing has been on the minds of a lot of IT executives. Conference agendas are filled with cloud talk and the Internet is abuzz with it. As more enterprise IT departments move to the cloud, it begs the question: How will it affect the traditional role of the CIO. It's fair to say that there will be changes if the department shifts from a service provider to utility model with usage-based metering.

This will cause a shift in core tasks from developing applications and user interfaces and so forth, to a new set of tasks involving defining service-level agreements, selecting cloud management tools and understanding customer service. Your role could shift to be more like an independent business manager running a public service (not unlike Salesforce.com).

Usage-based
Before cloud computing came along, the CIO was involved in strategic technology planning for the organization. The CIO was very likely making strategic decisions such as when to upgrade Microsoft Office and Windows and which strategic vendor to use for hardware, but as you implement a private cloud in your organization, new tasks and skills will come into play In addition to your traditional responsibilities - because old and new will likely live side-by-side for some time - you will also take on a new role of cloud manager.

The new role involves providing the tools and computing power to meet the changing needs of your users in a faster and more efficient manner. This will include setting up a private cloud where users have access to consistent, repeatable services from a services portal available via standard Internet protocols.

According to an InformationWeek article earlier this year, a survey of IT executives found that when it came to top reasons for moving to cloud computing, cutting costs was almost as important to respondents as faster response to end users. (It's also worth noting that the same survey found that while a vast majority of respondents [58 percent] were moving to the cloud, most were taking a go-slow approach.)

The Future Is Likely in the Cloud
All that said, a Mashable post citing a different cloud computing survey (seems to be a lot of them going on lately), predicted that by 2020, a vast majority of computing will be conducted in the cloud. While this survey seemed to focus a bit more on the consumer side, most IT executives see a future in the cloud. As that happens, the CIO job will adapt and change, moving from a job that involves "keeping the lights on" to that of a more logistical manager.

What's more, as you move some cloud service outside the firewall, such as Salesforce.com, it will increasingly mean understanding how the vendor is providing the services your company needs and that your company's information remains safe and secure wherever it's stored. You'll spend more time reading SLAs and figuring out who to call if things go wrong.

As the InformationWeek survey shows, it would be alarmist to suggest the CIO job is changing tomorrow, but as the Mashable article points out, the clear future direction is in the cloud.

More Stories By Benjamin Grubin

Benjamin Grubin is a 15-year veteran of the technology industry with experience in security, software engineering, marketing, consulting and management. He is the Director of Product Management & Marketing for Cloud Technology Partners, overseeing products that accelerate cloud development and migration. Mr. Grubin has worked with Fortune 100 companies to modernize their infrastructure and support next-generation management and security technologies. He is also a frequent presenter at conferences, seminars and panels on topics including cloud computing, IT service management, virtualization, and IT security.

Mr. Grubin holds an MBA from Harvard Business School as well as both a Master of Science in Computer Science and Bachelor of Science in Economics and Computer Science from Tufts University. Follow Ben on Twitter at @bgrubin.

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