The promise of internal cloud infrastructures for organizations rests in a much hoped for seamless ability to traverse heterogeneous operating systems and hardware platforms, delivering on-demand provisioning of storage, applications, and resources for users willing to pay for them. The cloud implementation of choice for businesses of any size is most definitely private, as sites are eager to retain control of their computing and data storage, and the security and governance that surround them.
Mindful of this push, vendors are coming to market with much improved solutions for navigating and monitoring application workloads, regardless of the operating systems and hardware platforms they traverse. The catch for many CIOs and IT managers is to ensure that internal IT staff also works in a seamless and cooperative way in order to support this new cloud infrastructure.
Just what are the obstacles that CIOs face as they try to instill greater collaboration among various teams within their staffs?
Platform loyalty: Technically oriented specialists have spent their entire careers perfecting their knowledge bases on a particular platform and, in some cases, on a specific subsystem within a particular platform. Telling them that they now have to think beyond this platform and (worse yet) consider the possibility that it might be eliminated altogether by virtualizing it on another dissimilar machine is a frightening prospect.
Loss of knowledge leverage: Technical professionals who specialize on a particular platform, subsystem, or application use this knowledge to leverage their careers and to establish their value and earning power in the organization. When this gets threatened by a “seamless” approach to IT that strives to eliminate silos of expertise, these highly specialized staff members can become threatened and even potentially leave. This is difficult for CIOs, because the organization needs this technical talent more than ever -- only it needs staff members to more broadly engage with others in the department to support a private cloud.
New tools and learning curves: When staff members are asked to work on new platforms and, potentially, new toolsets, there is both a learning curve and a natural trepidation. Suddenly, tools for system troubleshooting and monitoring that had become very familiar over the years are replaced by new tools that produce different sets of metrics and workflows. The adjustment process can prove to be daunting -- although vendors have done a reasonably good job at making the transition to these tools easier than expected.
New workgroups and values: Members from different areas of the IT organization also bring with them different sets of cultural and work values. These value niches can occur because, especially with very large staffs, silos of workers develop, especially if they are deployed to work on very specific aspects of infrastructure. A good example is a combination of storage and network specialists who are asked to work together. In this group, technical troubleshooting -- and even definitions of quality -- can be different.
Given these sets of challenges, it is small wonder that many CIOs spend a great deal of time thinking about easing their staffs through a transition to a cloud infrastructure that will blur and even eliminate the platform and system barriers that produced IT silos. The reports from sites are that the transformation is working, but that the progress is slow. This is why the ability to foster agility and teamwork in IT staff meetings and support functions will be one of the bellweathers of private cloud success.