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Joe Onisick
Joe Onisick
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The Biggest Threat to Your Private-Cloud Deployment: Your IT Staff

Your IT staff is likely full of technologists, which won't help you find success with a private-cloud deployment. Here's why shifting to an IT service catalog approach may ease your transition to the cloud.

People are the No. 1 reason why private clouds fail. The traditional IT staff is a tactically driven, deeply technical group of hardware and software problem solvers who aren't familiar with strategic IT thinking and don't have time for it. They aren't accustomed to aligning IT processes with business drivers. They're more comfortable with explaining why something can't be done than finding a way to make it happen. And they will be the downfall of your private cloud deployment.

This isn't their fault. They're working in a world with enough fires to put out that they don't have time to be forward thinking. They're IT MacGyvers, keeping your disparate systems and technology silos running with minimal budgets. They're trying to keep enough abreast of the next big IT wave so they can try and surf it when it's dropped on them unexpectedly and without their input. They're an impressive bunch, but as it stands right now they will fail you.

This doesn't have to be the case. With some understanding and organizational modifications, your IT staff can accelerate your private cloud journey rather than anchor the ship. In order to do this, two major mind-set changes must be fostered: the shift from reactive to proactive, and the shift from policy pushers to service providers. IT must realize that the business is its customer, and if customers aren't happy, they'll shop elsewhere.

The IT staff will need to be mentored into a more business-focused approach. This will require closer ties to individual business units in order to understand their needs. IT will need to develop a service catalog that's relevant to their users and simple enough for them to understand and deploy. For example, a series of AV, firewall and other options for a new desktop can be confusing to a non-techie, but a "security" option that includes all of these as an IT approved package makes sense.

In order to become adept at this, IT will have to adapt. This won't be welcome by all staff members. You'll find many team members who are eager to expand their skill sets and become more business focused. You'll find others who truly enjoy the technical side and wish to stay deeply involved with the technology itself. There's room for both--the key is to identify who's who based on desire and aptitude.

Keep the process fluid as you move forward, and keep IT staff heavily involved. IT staff members should be your biggest evangelists of the platform as they flesh it out. Create constant, minimally invasive feedback loops between the IT staff members designing the service offerings and the business leaders who will be the consumers--as with any business, a service is only as good as the demand for it.

If staff members understand the reasoning for a transition to a business-first attitude, they'll be more likely to get on board. From there, you'll be able to begin discerning which staff members fit in more business-oriented roles, and which will maintain the keys to the techie kingdom. Don't worry--there will be plenty for the true geeks to do as you roll in new hardware and software to consolidate, standardize, virtualize, automate and orchestrate.

Disclaimer: This post is not intended as an endorsement for any vendors, services or products.

Joe is the founder of Define the Cloud and a Technical Solutions Architect at a large Systems Integrator. Joe's background in IT and electronics goes back 12 years over a broad range of disciplines starting in Server/Network administration (Novell networks that is.) ... View Full Bio
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