The future of cloud computing is in flux. What was public is going private, in pursuit of better security. No longer are companies simply plugging their data into exclusively public or private systems, businesses are connecting to clouds in ways that represent amalgamations of the features inherent to both.
And with this change? The advent of new considerations. How your IT staff works with the end users of public, private, and hybrid clouds is becoming more complex — and more critical — to the success of your data infrastructure (and your IT team). Let's look at how, and then tap into some best practices for winning early battles when it comes to the systems, the specialists, and the everyday participants in the newest and multi-form world of cloud models.
The Public-to-Private Shift
One of the IT-friendly features of public cloud systems is that the business is largely turning to the provider for service. That emphasis of attention shifts, however, when the enterprise introduces a private cloud model. Now, it's the IT department dealing with the education, troubleshooting, and day-to-day maintenance of the data needs that are generated in-house. Remember that while the system configuration is a radical change on the IT side of the equation, on the users' end of things, a data request is still a data request. Users are not necessarily predisposed to understand the difference between private and public in the first place.
This is where some advance work comes in. A simple description of the difference, and of the benefits conferred by the change —whether it was IT's decision or, as is sometimes the case, one handed down from above (stories abound regarding IT staff being told almost last about the shift) — is a good start. But what may be of additional help are staffing adjustments that place the task-oriented members of the IT team behind a buffer of person-to-person specialists. Some models for this include the following.
— Private-Cloud Interface Executive: This would be the new ambassador to the enterprise floor. The account executive brings the voice of the users to the private-cloud technical staff. The effect is to streamline communications and shore up relations. When a staff sees that IT is taking the service scenario seriously, the odometer rolls back in almost every iteration.
— Deployed Team Managers: Get into the mix on a project-by-project basis, placing a people-friendly member of the IT team into direct contact with users who are working in specific ways with the cloud. Remember that the users most intensely involved with the private cloud are the users who stand to teach your department the most about where that system is flexible and strong, and where it is rigid and in need of attention.
The Hybrid Equation
Of course, the preceding ideas work well within the hybrid structure, too. They may be even more critical, especially on the case-by-case basis, when a user does not intuit that one set of data lives in the company's highly secure private cloud, while another is maintained by either a public cloud or a public-cloud component, within the private system. It's in the hybrid model that the rubber has to hit the road, however. One word: metrics.
If your IT team is not already doing so, collecting measurements of different cloud models' performance will be key to understanding what's slowing down — and hurting — your department. Reel in hard data on response times, repair turnaround, and where and when systems are down. Later, the odds of successfully arguing for improvements — and altering perceptions — tilt in your favor when you can show that IT is on top of its myriad systems and understands where the inherent strengths and weaknesses in the public, private, and hybrid cloud architecture lie.