Technology changes – constantly. And, through the years, IT Pros have been some of the most stalwart and adaptable employees in any organization.
The tasks of corporation Presidents haven't changed, just the title to CEO. The HR group still does HR stuff. Marketing continues struggle and face layoffs first when times are tough and sales is still a constantly swinging door. Executives and employees in HR, marketing and sales are all replaceable. But, IT remains steadfast and continues to be the one single entity that the company cannot live without. Sole IT Pros may jump between ships every now and again, but for the most part, the job and responsibility never really changes. More money and a different environment is always nice, but when the dust settles, the tasks are much the same and the critical nature of the business is still shouldered by those with expertise in implementing, managing, and running the business technologies.
In the Cloud world, many IT Pros are wondering what tomorrow will bring. For many, the changing landscape feels like a dead end. It doesn't help that companies like Microsoft, HP, Google, and others are promoting their Cloud services as the "New Style IT" or the "Cloud IT," and at the same time suggesting that the historical IT job is going away or evolving into a mish-mash of terms and tasks.
When mainframes were the norm, IT Pros were there. When dumb terminals were the desktop of choice, IT Pros were on hand. When laptops replaced luggables, IT Pros helped lighten the load. And, when laptops started giving way to handheld computers and smartphones, IT Pros added mobile support to their resumes.
So, down through time, though the technologies have changed, IT is still relied upon to understand and manage the new systems. The Cloud is no different. End-users still need hand-holding and they still desire a single point of contact for support. No one enjoys calling a service center and being put on hold waiting for a huge contract to be signed because the Cloud is down.
As more company executives start looking to the Cloud for apps, services, and storage, they will be including IT Pros in the conversation, and ultimately it will be up to the IT group to decide which provider to use, or even if the idea is a sound one. Businesses are not looking to replace IT, only vendors are doing that, or at least suggesting that it can be done.
There are those that suggest that Cloud IT will take new expertise, and while that's true to a point, it really only needs a seasoned IT Pro that has been an active participant in the ever evolving, ever adapting stream of technology – one that is used to change and has lived IT. Cloud IT is really no different than any other technology that has crossed the office threshold in the past 30 years. It just needs someone to step up and take the reins enough to take the burden of decision off of management. Just like always.
I spoke with a friend at TechEd 2014 who is fighting the Cloud at every turn. He has 8 years to go before retirement and is hell-bent on keeping the Cloud's tendrils out of the company's infrastructure until he's comfortably tucked away on his boat somewhere so he won't have to learn something new and, basically, just so he won't have to deal with it.
That's one way to handle it, I guess. Is a complete, 100% move to the Public Cloud an option for anyone? No. But, there are pieces of the Cloud that make sense, like archiving, backups, email, and disaster recovery and business continuity. By utilizing the Cloud where sensible, companies can essentially expand their network without significant cost in hardware and infrastructure.
So, don't fret the small stuff. Don’t dismiss things just because they are different. As an IT Pro you are constantly required to adapt and change and that may be one of the most important aspects of the IT personality. And, it's also the real reason why a life in IT has such longevity.
IT lives on, even in the Cloud, and you won't have to deign to selling hotdogs on the beach. Unless that's what you want to do.
So, as management revs up the Cloud discussion, don't be afraid to say "Yeah, I can do that." Even if you've never done it before, there's a strong possibility it'll be no different than the last product you had to educate yourself on in a weekend.