Leveraging the Cloud: From Basic Activities to Advanced Usage

Modis

Cloud computing generated $100 billion in 2012, which is estimated to be an impressive $500 billion by 2020.1 What was once an innovative technology of the future is now the standard way of doing business.

The challenge for companies is to leverage what still works well from their in-house legacy infrastructure and augment that with a new cloud-based infrastructure to meet their future needs. Learn how to transition to advanced cloud usage and build a strong team for your company.

 

Cloud is about efficiency, economy, scalability, elasticity and doing things faster and better.

Good foundations need good enterprise architecture.

Enterprise architecture integrates management of the IT infrastructure currently in place while designing and building the infrastructure needed for the future. The value in this discipline is in presenting leadership with signature-ready recommendations to alleviate disruptions and achieve business objectives more quickly.3

“Enterprise architecture applies architecture principles and practices to guide organizations through the business, information, process and technology changes necessary to execute their strategies.”4

Enterprise architecture methodologies are shifting toward an Agile approach. Previous methodologies primarily focused on processes and tools. An Agile approach, in contrast, emphasizes individuals and interactions.5 This methodology also improves the project team’s enterprise architecture awareness, enhancing focus and functionality.

The first step: making the leap to the cloud.

Migrating to cloud technology involves moving legacy in-house systems, including enterprise resource planning (ERP), human resources management, and similar enterprise applications, into the cloud.

Companies who have migrated to the cloud:

NETFLIX

In 2008, Netflix made their move to the cloud primarily based on their cost reduction strategy. Their initial experience was mixed. It took seven years (2008-2015) to move most of their systems to the cloud using Amazon Web Services (AWS), with full migration complete in 2016. They initially faced major database corruption issues and were unable to ship DVDs to customers for three days, but were able to resolve these. Netflix now has eight times the clients they had in 2008. The improved scalability has allowed Netflix to expand its service to more than 130 new countries, becoming a truly global Internet TV network. Even though there are still some challenges, Netflix says they are not constrained by the limitations they previously faced. 6

COCA-COLA

Coca-Cola embraced the cloud in 2011 and has never looked back. The beverage giant went from 3-4% of its 2,000 applications being hosted in the cloud to having almost all of them in the cloud. Their CTO anticipates within the next five years the company will be “as cloud-based as it will ever be.” Coca-Cola says they benefit from wide coverage through Google’s presence. The company sees the cloud as a long-term approach.7

Top cloud-based careers.8, 9

In addition to the benefits companies have received since the introduction of the cloud, remote IT career options have opened up for employees and contractors.

  • Information Security Analyst: Instructs users on security policies and procedures. Monitors cloud activity and ensures data is protected from unauthorized users. Identifies, reports and resolves security violations. MEDIAN SALARY: $120,901
  • IT Project Manager: Creates, manages and executes project plans to support the ongoing needs of the IT department. Coordinates resources, establishes deadlines, and assigns responsibilities. Tracks the progress of projects and compiles status reports for senior management.
  • Help Desk Support: Assists end users in resolving cloud related issues by fielding telephone calls and email communication, diagnosing problems, and performing troubleshooting activities. Documents, tracks and monitors the problem to facilitate a timely resolution.
  • Cloud Architect: Defines and executes cloud automation strategy for enterprise applications and application components. Supports, maintains and develops cloud based software. Builds innovative and reliable solutions to meet demanding customer needs.
  • Network Administrator: Supports, designs, maintains and monitors internal and external networks. Implements and manages all systems, applications, security and network configurations. Resolves cloud performance issues and establishes a disaster recovery plan. Recommends upgrades, patches, and new applications and equipment.
  • Cloud Developer: Builds elastic computation and storage. Automates feedback loop of monitoring resources. Controls the cloud’s size, speed and robustness as needed.

Building a foundation for the future.

Companies develop the foundation needed for future big data and business analytics capabilities when they begin their transition to the cloud. This foundation is composed of a three-tiered cloud infrastructure.10

The intermediate steps: combining cloud services.

Public cloud falls within the standard cloud-computing model whereby the general public can access applications and use the available storage provided by service providers for free or on a pay-per-usage model. These are highly scalable and self-serve.11 The top cloud providers available for general public use are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Windows Azure.11

Private cloud offers similar benefits to public cloud, including scalability and self-service. The difference is that this method is provided through proprietary architecture on dedicated servers within a single organization. This method is ideal for larger organizations because it provides greater control over their data and does not require them to share space on servers with other tenants. Private cloud providers include Microsoft Private Cloud, OpenStack Private Cloud, Platform9 OpenStack Private Cloud, and Apache CloudStack Private Cloud.12

Hybrid cloud uses a combination of public and private cloud services, allowing the platforms to work in synergy and sync to provide businesses with increased flexibility. This works in businesses and industries where physical space is an issue, yet the business needs to keep critical and sensitive data secure. Financial and healthcare industries, law firms, and other customer-facing industries often utilize this model.8 For example, if a healthcare provider needs to transmit a large amount of patient data to insurance companies while maintaining compliance with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), hybrid cloud is the ideal solution. It also enables offsite data encryption to reduce the risk of data loss.8

 

The right people for the job.9, 14, 15

  • Cloud Engineer: Collaborate with Architecture/Solutions Engineers and other stakeholders to design, test, and assist with integration and implementation of cloud-based solutions. They test and implement standards and design patterns to ensure compatibility and integration in cloud environments. Serving as engineering resources on proofs of concept and projects that are leveraging cloud based technologies they help to support the development of a structured, standardized, and consolidated sets of services that optimally support business processes and applications.
  • Information Security Architect: Conduct risk assessments and business impact analysis, evaluating alternative strategies, developing recommendations, and ensuring responsive communication with business representatives, security management, and third party vendors. By assisting in implementation of security policies, processes, tools and methodologies that support security architecture standards, they also ensure security solutions are being developed across organization are aligned to enterprise security standards and principles.
  • Customer Support Cloud Engineer: Provide technical support for cloud technologies, applying analytical skills and technical knowledge to solve product and software problems of moderate to high complexity. These engineers also provide technology/product training and intellectual property material.

Increase in demand for cloud-related jobs

The migration of jobs to the cloud has lead to an increase in demand for several roles associated with cloud use. While this is a positive shift for workers in the field, it indicates an increase in competition for employers to secure the most qualified candidates. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates better than average job growth for computer-based jobs between 2014-2020, with many of these jobs shifting to the cloud.16

The advanced steps: data and analytics.17

Predictive analytics involves a variety of techniques, including data mining, statistics and modeling, to analyze current data and make predictions about future. It has allowed companies like Utica National Insurance Group to reduce their effort while receiving higher than expected returns. Used for risk assessment purposes, it provides the company with a continuous flow of incoming credit reports that can assess risk appetite built on a range of existing data instead of just credit scores alone.

Predictive analytics has also aided CenterPoint Energy in measuring ongoing performance by monitoring usage and outages with greater ease. They can now capture and analyze automated data from their metering systems, and also advance in information sharing across departments and users.

 

Skilled IT professionals needed for advanced steps.9, 18, 15

  • Predictive Modeling Analyst: Conduct logical analysis of problems and develop analysis, modeling and data mining. Use technology, modeling, other applications, software tools, and programming languages to conduct advanced statistical analyses and apply mathematical calculations to provide information used for future decisions.
  • Business Analyst: Assist management in driving strategic and operational business decisions. Work with senior executives and functional leaders to help deliver solutions for enhanced strategic alignment between analytical capabilities and demands of the sales and operations. Combine advanced data management, business intelligence and statistical analysis/predictive modeling techniques.
  • Data Analytics Engineer: Lead the delivery of highly complex Big Data platforms to make decisions while applying technology knowledge of data analytics and insights to provide best-fit architectural solutions for big data projects. Design and develop advanced analytics solutions to make/optimize business decisions and processes, and seek and integrate new tools to improve descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics.
  • IT Data and Analytics Manager: Communicate complex data or algorithms into simple conclusions to empower others to action based on insights. Transform the business to enable better decision-making through the usage of advanced analytics. Evangelist for the power of predictive analysis, and develop business cases to illustrate changes in decision-making.

Cloud computing and the future of IT careers.

Automation in IaaS-related activities is increasing since the technology and operations involved are the most standardized. As such, the number of people needed to perform services in IaaS is shrinking. Activities related to PaaS are also being automated and consolidated, but jobs in this category of services continue to grow because demand continues to increase. Many companies have unique needs for the way they store and manage their data.

The number of jobs and demand for SaaS services is steadily growing. In this category, the capabilities of IaaS and PaaS are combined with custom built or packaged software applications to deliver capabilities needed by companies to grow and run their businesses. Because of the unique nature of individual company needs, this work is difficult to automate and requires person-to-person contact, communication and collaboration. This is where most IT professionals will find jobs in the coming years as cloud services are incorporated in the operations of more and more companies.19

The cloud is impacting significant change to the ongoing mission of company IT groups. Traditionally, IT groups have been devoted to the installation and operation of computer and communications hardware and the operation of software hosted on that hardware. Increasingly, the adoption of cloud services in IaaS and PaaS is resulting in a shift away from traditional IT jobs as those jobs are outsourced to cloud service providers. 20

With this shift of traditional IT jobs to cloud service providers, company IT groups are redirecting their people and budgets to working with the business operating units in their companies. They are focusing on helping business units create competitive advantages in their industries and strengthen their bonds with customers. Just as software applications are more deeply integrated into the daily operations of many businesses, so too are IT professionals becoming more integrated into the organizational structures and operating units of those businesses.

The move to cloud computing is the most profound development in the IT world since the emergence of the Internet.



SOURCES

  1. Eric Griffith, “What Is Cloud Computing?”, PC Magazine (May 2016)
  2. Reynaldo Mincov Junior, “10 Steps to Understanding Your IT Before Moving to Cloud”, Thoughts on Cloud (April 2016)
  3. Gartner IT Glossary: Enterprise Architecture (EA)”, Gartner
  4. Enterprise Architecture” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (May 2016)
  5. Scott Amber, “Agile Enterprise Architecture”, Agile Data
  6. Completing the Netflix Cloud Migration, Netflix
  7. Alex Konrad, “Why Coca-Cola Works With Both Google And Its Rivals In The Cloud And Warns Not To Worry About Price”, Forbes.com (March 2016)
  8. James Sanders, “Hybrid Cloud: What It Is, Why It Matters”, ZDNet (July 2014)
  9. Modis 2017 Salary Guide
  10. Software, Platform, Infrastructure Model (SPI Model)”, Techopedia (June 2016)
  11. AWS Remains Dominant Despite Microsoft and Google Growth Surges”, Synergy Research Group
  12. Brian Kirsch, “5 Private Cloud Providers Compared”, Tom’s IT Pro (April 2015)
  13. "The Business Impact of the Cloud", Vanson Bourne (March 2012)
  14. Modis Career Search - IaaS
  15. Indeed.com
  16. "Occupational Outlook Handbook", Bureau of Labor Statistics
  17. "5 Predictive Analytics Use Cases", Insurance Networking News
  18. Career Builder
  19. Michael Hugos, Derek Hulitzky, Business in the Cloud: What Every Business Needs to Know About Cloud Computing (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2011), p. 119 - 135
  20. Paul Heltzel, “Clouds Ahead: What an IT Career Will Look Like Five Years Out”, InfoWorld (September 2015)