If you’re like me, an IT professional of ‘a certain age’, (and come to think of it, even if you’re younger but toiling in an enterprise still struggling with legacy practices) you know what it’s like to work in a siloed, IT environment.
I’m sure you know what I mean by “siloed”: the database team works separately from the SharePoint team who speak, imperfectly with the various dev teams and so on, and so on.
This approach to enterprise IT, which fosters an emphasis on individual, technical prowess over solutions, and a tendency towards isolation from the concerns and pain points of end-users and business units, is losing whatever charms it once held as cloud technologies and methodologies become standard practice.
Here’s a concrete example…
For many companies, messaging, in the form of Exchange Online, is the entry point to SaaS as represented by Office365. Typically, the goal is to reduce server footprint, licensing costs and operational complexity by moving the email function to the cloud.
And just as typically, the messaging person, long accustomed to fulfilling that role more or less in isolation from other IT roles (with interaction, as needed with teams who need messaging services) expects to continue along that track.
But the movement of this workload to the cloud makes that nearly impossible.
Cloud services, such as Office 365, operate on a scale not achievable for most enterprises and take advantage of computing fabrics (in the case of Office 365, the Microsoft Graph) that turn discrete technologies – such as SharePoint, messaging and cloud storage, into aspects of a unified collaboration framework.
This represents a powerful change to the IT function which alters the demands placed on IT professionals:
- Solutions: a focus on solutions over pure technical prowess
- Flexibility: a willingness to cross technology boundaries that follow the data flow throughout your cloud platform
- Communication: assuming an ‘evangelist’ role in your organization, promoting workflow modernization via cloud services
You find solutions by listening, seeking to mate technology to an organization’s needs instead of trying to bend people and their work process, to the constraints of a technology. In the cloud era, failure to do this leads to the use of ‘shadow’ and ‘credit card’ IT as teams work around central IT obstacles by adopting cloud technologies independently of company strategy.
You achieve flexibility by leaving your silo (dev, operations, messaging, database, etc.) and developing a broad, cross-functional body of expertise that is built on an understanding of a platform, thinking of the service in utility terms.
You develop an effective communication strategy by understanding that, a key part of your responsibility during this moment of transition from exclusively on-premises technology methods to hybrid or all-in cloud adoption, is to explain the benefits and provide guidance.
These skills have always been important, but in the cloud era, they have achieved a critical importance not seen for quite some time. As an IT professional, your success will be measured more and more by your strength in these areas, even above your (surely solid) technical chops.