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Private, Public and Hybrid Clouds Will All Need an IT Service Culture

As more companies move to the cloud, one thing is becoming clear: IT must develop a service culture to keep end users happy.

Whether IT focuses on a public, private or hybrid cloud computing strategy, it's going to be measured on service like never before. As a result, more and more IT executives are focusing on service culture development.

Servicing the systems and the applications you deploy would seem to be second nature, but it never has been for IT. All too often, new systems and applications have such demanding requirements that no sooner do you wrap up one project than you're off to the next one. At the end of the day, your feet get held to the fire by upper managers who want IT quickly deployed so the business can reap the benefit. There are few penalties if you skimp on support and service.

To further compound things, the IT skill set traditionally comes up short in so-called "soft skills" like people management, teamwork, written and verbal communications, and service. By nature, IT professionals tend to be task- rather than people-oriented--and the IT culture rewards technical and project management performance more often. As a result, CIOs have their work cut out for them because the cloud is going to require excellence in service.

What makes cloud computing different? For starters, outside cloud vendors are pitching to end-business managers, not IT. "It seems that every month, I get word about a new cloud application that the company is considering," says an IT director at a Fortune 500 manufacturer. "Sometimes I get word of an offering after the contract has already been signed with an end-business department, and I'm simply being told to assist the cloud provider in onboarding our company, and to manage the contract and the service agreement."

The service-level agreement lists what the company should expect from the vendor. If these service levels aren't stated, companies are increasingly demanding that they be added to the agreement. The best companies meet quarterly with vendors to review service performance.

While all of this is going on, there has also been a notable shift toward private clouds. During the past two years, companies have become comfortable with cloud solutions and what they can deliver--but there have been few improvements to eliminate security concerns surrounding public cloud providers. The security concerns are so pronounced that even very small businesses are implementing private clouds, thanks to a plethora of vendors offering "cloud in a box" solutions that are practically plug and play.

End users, however, expect the same service culture from a company's private cloud that outside providers promise.

Next: Service and Collaboration Challenges

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