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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cloud might let users bypass IT—for a while

Undoubtedly the greatest bit of hype around the predicted rise of cloud computing is that the role of the CIO and the IT department is going to be diminished as end users bypass internal IT and go directly out to the cloud for what they need.  That is until the cloud provider goes out of business one day, and you find out your people can’t get access to all those great documents and ideas and data they had stored in the now-shuttered provider’s servers.  Or until the group of go-getters discover that the Web app stopped working for their co-conspirators in the St. Louis office because of some conflict with that location’s new server settings.  It’s for reasons like these that agency IT departments will still need to be fully engaged with the process of making sure end users have the IT resources they need to do their jobs.  What will change as cloud computing gets more popular is where those resources are coming from, and that will mean a change for IT department’s role, not the reduction or elimination of it.

The generic name for what the IT department will need to be really good at is “IT service management.”  Though this philosophy has been around for decades, even when IT designed, built and ran virtually all the systems its end users needed, it’s going to take on far more importance in the age of cloud-style outsourcing.

Randy Steinberg, a national specialist leader at Deloitte Consulting and expert in IT service management, observes that many organizations are starting to realize that cloud computing will change the skills they need in their internal IT department.  “You can see evidence of this in the industry already—some of the fastest growing jobs are in IT Service Management, sourcing experts, service definition skills and procurement.

Another source for my story, Rob England, a consultant who writes a blog about IT service management called the IT Skeptic, also noted how the interface between an internal IT department and the rest of the organization will change as cloud takes off.  “One aspect that doesn’t get enough attention is that service desk becomes more important not less,” England said.

“Carr’s “IT Doesn’t Matter” is coming true - the cloud will help break down the isolation of IT as a cultish specialty and place Information as just another department.”

We know from our reporting at FCW and Government Computer News that ITIL is quite popular around government.  Even though one can see plenty of anecdotal evidence of ITIL uptake, it turns out that good research about ITIL adoption rates and return on investment are hard to come by.  The IT service management vendor Hornbill has a recent user survey about ITIL use that has some interesting data about the areas of ITIL that current adopters are most interested in.

Posted on 08/10