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Three Important Ways SaaS and Cloud Are Changing IT’s Role
I see three big changes for IT professionals

While on-premise deployments are still the default for many enterprise applications today, most everyone agrees that SaaS and Cloud are the future. The question from the CXO is no longer, "Should we consider putting this application in the cloud?" It is, "Why wouldn't we deploy this in the cloud?" As this new thinking takes full effect, I see three big changes for IT professionals:

A Shift from Owner/Operator to Consumer Coordinator
Instead of acquiring and operating on-site infrastructure and applications for the enterprise, IT professionals will be expected to coordinate business services for employees and end-users. Their role will be to ensure their "customers" are getting the performance levels they need to speed communication, increase collaboration and accelerate individual and organizational productivity.

While many IT folks have already embraced this role to some degree, the requirement becomes much more pronounced as a greater share of their IT infrastructure and services go the way of the Cloud. There is also an impression that when apps go to the Cloud, so too does the responsibility for service levels. This is a myth. While SaaS provides some service level visibility via status dashboards, local IT is still on the hook for the quality of service realized by users.

The Power of the Crowd Grows
To assure service levels in a SaaS/cloud environment, IT will have to be able to monitor and troubleshoot infrastructure they cannot touch -- the end-to-end service delivery chain from their premises, through the various Internet Service Providers, to the application provider and back. This is the only way to effectively detect, isolate, and resolve issues affecting cloud application performance before they negatively impact users and their organizations. As such, IT professionals will need to embrace the concept of the "Crowd."

SaaS applications are by definition shared by a global community of customers. So it stands to reason that monitoring of these services could and should be done in a shared manner as well. There are already examples of the Crowd monitoring the cloud in informal ways through Twitter. But it won't stop there. Technologies exist today that enable IT organizations to monitor and aggregate data across all users of a SaaS service. The greater the number of monitoring points, the more accurately IT can detect and isolate specific problem spots that degrade service levels and user experience. This concept will be key to delivering on service level expectations and I expect IT professionals to find interesting new ways to put it to work for their organizations.

Management Tools Match the Ease and Simplicity of Cloud Apps
With the changes in the role of IT and the need to manage and monitor infrastructure outside the four walls of the enterprise, IT management tools will change also. The "Consumerization of IT" has become a cliché, but you need only spend a few minutes in an app like Expensify or the admin consoles for Office 365, AWS, or Google to see that they are becoming much more like Twitter and Facebook and less like SAP. We are all now conditioned to expect user interfaces that are simple, intelligent, and friendly.

Yet, most IT systems management software solutions still require a lot of heavy lifting to deploy and use. We know these legacy solutions can't provide much visibility into the performance and availability of cloud based apps. Beyond that, though, a lot of them still subject IT to an amazing amount of effort and complexity just to deploy and manage the management software itself! IT teams won't put up with systems management and monitoring tools that require a team of consultants to stand-up, especially when they are trying to simplify things by moving apps to the cloud. Instead, management tool providers will make their solutions easier to deploy and manage - exactly like the cloud-based business apps and services they are running their business on.

About Patrick Carey
Patrick Carey is vice president of product management and marketing for Exoprise, a provider of cloud-based monitoring and enablement solutions for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. He spends his free time thinking about how companies can get to the cloud faster and stay there longer.

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