In 2012, IT professionals will come upon a fork in their career path. Thanks to the game-changing nature of virtualisation as the foundation of cloud computing, the technology has ushered in new challenges, new day-to-day responsibilities and, soon, new roles for IT professionals as business leaders within their organisations. Choosing to accept the challenges will require a business skill set and thinking beyond the walls of the IT department.
IT professionals as business leaders will need to demonstrate their expertise by identifying and implementing the most appropriate virtualisation and cloud tools that fit their company's needs. What's more, they will need to be held accountable for the quality and reliability of IT services delivered to their companies on these new architectures. Deciding not to take this step forward will result, at best, in IT becoming a middleman between CEOs and cloud service providers. Or worse, IT will lose its value and place in the organisation.
IT pros should be asking themselves where their companies are heading in order to be prepared and stay competitive. The good news is that IT departments should be well-positioned to understand the unique requirements of the businesses they support (so long as they're listening!) Here are some tips on what IT professionals need to be paying attention to in the coming year in order to move toward a business skill set.
- Embrace the evolution of virtualisation. First and foremost, IT professionals need to be up-to-speed on the evolution of technology and know how to manage a virtual infrastructure, including its performance, availability, capacity and applications. A core understanding of virtualisation and cloud technologies has become table stakes for IT leaders.
- Develop partnerships. IT professionals will need to identify and collaborate with vendors that are making it easier to adopt features that enhance virtualisation and facilitate the transition to cloud computing. Start experimenting early and often. This will simplify the process for IT professionals whose companies are looking to move into a cloud infrastructure. Another advantage is that this will demonstrate their ability to develop and manage vital partnerships that provide the right enhancement features for their companies' needs. In the world of IT as a "broker" vs. a "builder," these partnerships will be essential going forward.
- Become a successful business leader. This is the defining piece. IT professionals need to become prominent leaders and advise their companies on the right infrastructure needs to drive the business forward. Companies are looking to trim excess costs. And with the rise of service providers, businesses could potentially eliminate the middleman altogether -- which can mean IT professionals are out of their jobs. Skills such as marketing and product management are not only for vendors -- they are becoming increasingly important for IT departments whose delivery of IT services is inevitably going to be compared to outside service providers.
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