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Stay Current, Achieve Excellence: 4 Emerging Cloud Techniques

David Eisner

How do you achieve excellence in the cloud? Enterprises know it's not enough to simply locate and leverage the services of a cloud provider: using cloud resources effectively marks the difference between "adequate" and "excellence" in achieving long-term IT and revenue goals. But to maximize cloud use, you need to know what's next for this disruptive market: here are four emerging techniques.

1. Recognizing Tech Savvy

According to an October 16 article from Forbes, business users are getting more comfortable with the cloud as corporate technology more closely resembles consumer applications. Rebecca Wettemann of Nucleus Research says that, "what we see with cloud is applications are more configurable, need less coding, [and] less customization, so I can have a marketing technologist, a finance technologist, even an HR technologist, that can effectively try before they buy." The result, notes Wettemann, is that average users are much more tech-savvy than even five years ago.

For CIOs looking to maximize cloud resource use, this is a critical point: as users change, so too must IT departments. Failing to recognize that front-line employees have as much basic knowledge of the cloud as IT professionals leads to redundancy — users don't need to be taught how cloud services work, but rather learn new ways to leverage cloud services day-to-day. Here, the technique to keep in mind is facilitating a kind of "holistic" IT department comprised of both professionals and everyday users.

2. Going Full-Service

In Massachusetts, Boston University's Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science and Engineering is taking aim at a new project called SCOPE. Short for Smart-city Cloud-based Open Platform and Ecosystem, the idea here is to develop whole-city services that improve quality of life for all citizens. This could include monitoring greenhouse gas emissions, collecting "big data" on traffic patterns or coordinating public works schedules to reduce overspending.

Boston's smart city project showcases an emerging cloud technique: design for everything. Thanks to a mature cloud market and Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices on the cusp of being actionable and relevant day-to-day, there's almost no data or deliverable beyond a company's reach.

3. Opting for Identity

A recent GigaOM study examined the role of identity and access management (IAM) in the cloud and concluded that unlike the "old guard" of tech companies which design for on-premises first and cloud as an afterthought, new players are creating cloud-first IAM systems as a way to secure enterprises from the outside in. This type of security naturally dovetails with the cloud since it allows for centralization of all identity data and the ability to quickly add new ID profiles as required.

Critical here is the shift in technique from on-premises identity management — which is often ad hoc, as needed and in response to security incidents — to a consistent, system kind of ID security focused on the cloud as frontline rather than runner up.

4. Adopting Automation

In a cloud-based world, even the best IT departments need a little help. That's the argument of a recent Venture Beat piece, which points to significant benefits of automation in the cloud. But tapping into these benefits means quickly offloading processes to providers — and being confident they won't break when spun up in the cloud. As a result, IT departments must become havens of automation, and any cloud adoption plan should include specific steps to address existing process barriers. In some cases, even veteran IT staff won't have the necessary skills to make this transition; don't be afraid to tap third-party vendors for migration services and then revert to internal management.

Excellence in the cloud is possible, but may require enterprises to rethink their IT techniques. Start with a holistic view of tech expertise, then opt for full-service deployments, identity management, then embrace automation to maximize cloud returns.

By David Eisner, President & CEO at Dataprise, Inc – He founded Dataprise in 1995 and has led its growth from tiny start-up to recognized leader in providing managed IT services to small and medium-size businesses. Visit Page
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