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By Erica Konieczny
August 14, 2016
While the demise of the IT department was once predicted with the rise of cloud computing, there is plenty of evidence that instead of IT fading away, it’s evolving to become more important than ever. The value of an IT department lies in its people, and in today’s growing cloud world those people are getting freed from maintenance chores related to hardware and software, and moving on to a whole host of more strategic functions.
Cloud computing gives you the chance to transform IT into an information and data powerhouse by removing duties like planning and implementing software projects, monitoring and maintaining hardware, babysitting applications and updates, and responding to technical user issues related to on-premise software and hardware. In many ways, the cloud ushers in a transformative period for IT.
As Mathew Lodge, vice president in VMware's cloud services group summed it up, “The future is about enabling the deployment and consumption of cloud services, not installing, configuring, and managing stacks."
And Jim Rogers, CMO at unified communications and cloud services company, iCore Networks, outlined IT’s future: “Cloud services are disrupters. They disrupt the idea that IT departments need to spend most of their time on-site performing mundane tasks. IT departments now have more viable options to outsource and automate these tasks than ever before.”
The cloud has definite advantages for many aspects of a construction company’s information needs. For managing customer relationships, communicating and collaborating, managing projects, and for a host of other business use cases, the cloud is increasingly the obvious solution.
When you have data and applications in the cloud, they are readily accessible anytime, anywhere, on any Internet-connection device. Much of the cloud’s usefulness lies in its availability on a wide range of mobile devices, which are custom-made for the mobile environment of construction.
You can implement cloud solutions very quickly and scale them according to your needs at anytime. Top cloud vendors have security practices that far exceed anything most companies can field on their own. And, IT costs are much more manageable in the cloud because they are operating expenses rather than capital expenses.
When you also consider how a very low investment gets you a seat at the table with enterprise class computing power, you realize the cloud is giving you a major competitive advantage as a small business.
For many construction businesses, switching to the cloud doesn't require the services of a full-scale IT department, but there are definitely advantages to having IT involved in your cloud efforts––both during and beyond a switch.
That's because of the strategic complexity of managing your cloud infrastructure. Think about replacing maintenance with strategy, and about how much more you can focus on your data and how it is collected, stored, and governed.
Here are 5 redefined functions that will save IT when switching to the cloud.
It used to be that your on-premise IT folks spent a lot of time maintaining, maintaining, maintaining. Of course, maintenance still needs to happen when portions of the IT infrastructure move to the cloud, but it's different because the sheer volume of cloud-based services means these companies have aggregated terrific IT talent—people who are best-in-class software and hardware specialists. Best of all, they are elsewhere, quietly doing their thing so you can quietly do yours.
The IT role for security remains strong even with cloud computing. Most construction companies still have on-premise software that require consistent security and monitoring. The best cloud providers, on the other hand, have security measures that are more robust than any on-site servers.
With the cloud, IT can spend time identifying risks and defining policies and procedures to mitigate those risks––securing authentication, encrypting data, enabling mobile device access and controls, and auditing and validating the security policies of cloud vendors.
IT can serve a very important role in managing your cloud presence. Service level agreements need the expertise of IT because they understand how applications operate in the cloud, and how they interact between the cloud and the on-premise infrastructure. They know about improving performance through flexibility, the best places to include redundancy, processes for disaster recovery related to the cloud, and the complex aspects of scaling cloud services while monitoring and reporting on them.
In this post-On-Premise world, IT no longer needs to deal with data center operations, monitoring, planning for capacity and security, tuning applications, and troubleshooting applications. Now they can focus on the bigger picture. That big picture includes finding and provisioning best in class solutions for their organizations.
It's very important for companies to select the correct vendors and products so they get the most capability, best performance, best security, and the required uptime. People with the right IT experience are in the best position to sort through the various options and technical details, and cut through all the hype.
Bring-your-own mobile device brought with it a wave of new challenges. Consider data security and how hard it has become to keep business data from mingling with personal data. What about the proliferation of business data across the web on multiple cloud sites that are not part of the business’ cloud infrastructure? There’s also the ease with which people can share business data with third parties, and the privacy issues inherent where people can easily compromise others’ privacy either intentionally or unintentionally. In all of these cases, IT can make a real difference in keeping company and private information protected.
Like so many other sectors experiencing transformation today, the IT sector is seeing a shift in responsibilities and functions. Far from spelling doom for the typical IT department, the cloud is showing the way for its evolution.
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