Thursday, March 10, 2011

Outsourcing IT

I’ve been thinking recently about the whole “Cloud” thing, “Cloud computing”, “Cloud hosting”, “Identity Management in the Cloud”, cloud-this and cloud-that. In an essence, it all seems be a business telling to its IT department – you are too expensive. We want to get rid of you, without getting rid of the services you provide.

Business knows that an IT department is important. It saves money in many ways, keeps the back-office running and helps in executing business processes. But in many organizations IT costs too much, with all its security, high availability, disaster recovery, compliance and support requirements. Business cringes seeing all the capital job proposals and budgets for IT spendings. This is why they are looking for an alternative. Say, an alternative, that gives the back-office support without having to worry about all the high-ticket items, like HA, DR and GRC. Items that IT seems to stick every year on the annual budget proposals. An this is exactly what the “cloud” tries to provide. The cloud is an abstracted business function, where all high-ticket IT items are spread over multiple clients and thus are cheaper to have for any particular client. The IT department, after all, is just a business paid expense, that has no real, intrinsic value all by itself.

The business, of course, wants the high level of service, the good “Service Level Agreement” to cover the needs of the business. This is where we enter the world of ITIL. The SLA’s the ITIL are a step in getting IT outsourced. An SLA’s without a extra value is a way to make IT separable, commoditizable. I am not saying they are bad. I am saying if you exceed at delivering the services on the SLA’s without bringing benefits to a business, you are no different than a third party outlet selling server time for a monthly fee.

So, before you dismiss the “cloud” business as yet another popular, but short lived word in the IT vernacular, think of the implications that this model has for the future of IT. There is a trend of businesses cutting back on the IT departments. I really see only one way for the IT department to survive this transition. IT can live on by becoming a cloud integration department. On the low level, someone needs to integrate in-house systems with the clouds during and after the transition to could based services. On the high level, someone needs to understand the business and to know how to map it to the services different clouds provide.

Granted, it may take a decade before the onslaught of the clouds, depending on how much push the business is doing toward cost-cutting, but start training up now for one of these roles, if you are working in an IT department.

PS. Yes, the cloud providers will need the IT skills to develop and maintain the cloud offerings, but the number of jobs will be much smaller compared to the in-house IT staff.

To see the original blog entry, please click here.

Alex Ivkin is a senior IT Security Architect with a focus in Identity and Access Management at Prolifics. Mr. Ivkin has worked with executive stakeholders in large and small organizations to help drive security initiatives. He has helped companies succeed in attaining regulatory compliance, improving business operations and securing enterprise infrastructure. Mr. Ivkin has achieved the highest levels of certification with several major Identity Management vendors and holds the CISSP designation. He is also a speaker at various conferences and an active member of several user communities.