Great Debate: Cloud Computing: SMB's only IT department?

Moderated by Josh Gingold | January 23, 2012 -- 07:00 GMT (23:00 PST)

Summary: Will the cloud eventually enable smaller companies to do away with their IT departments?

Christopher Dawson

Christopher Dawson

Yes

or

No

Heather Clancy

Heather Clancy

Best Argument: No

The moderator has delivered a final verdict.

Opening Statements

The solution? The cloud

Christopher Dawson:  If you run an SMB, chances are you’re all too familiar with the many hats you wear. Manager, CEO, CFO, CIO... Even for medium-sized businesses that have more established roles and staffing, IT tends to be an afterthought until it breaks. No matter the size of your organization, though, doesn’t it usually run better when your time can be devoted to strategic thinking and growing the business instead of bothering with software licensing, hardware rollouts (or fixing old hardware), and the security of your expanding stores of customer and supply chain data (to say nothing of intellectual property and other digital assets)?

Yes. Yes it does. The solution? The cloud. Leveraging hosted software-as a-service on whatever devices are affordable and keeping your employees happy means your attention is on the business while cloud providers deliver everything you need online. Pay the Internet bills and go change the world.
 

Adult supervision required

Heather Clancy: Just because cloud infrastructure and applications can be provisioned easily by line-of-business managers and be paid for outside of regular IT budgets doesn’t mean your SMB can eliminate its IT department as you take them on. The role of the SMB IT manager actually becomes even more strategic and complicated as SMBs invest more deeply in cloud services. Some small businesses that have relied on outside IT services companies in the past may even want to consider bringing someone on staff to manage the big picture.

There are three big reasons: 1) Moving to the cloud requires disciplined data management. 2) As different services are adopted from different cloud service providers, someone must maintain a holistic view of a company’s entire IT footprint. 3) Someone needs to figure out how cloud services should interact and integrate with remaining on-premise applications.

To be truly strategic, cloud investments require IT management oversight.

Talkback

28 comments
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  • RE: Great Debate: Cloud Computing: SMB's only IT department?

    Custom development may be deployed to the cloud, but it will likely happenin house. Someone from the company is going to have to manage apps regardless of what is being outsourced.
    bmonsterman
    Reply Vote I'm for No
  • RE: Great Debate: Cloud Computing: SMB's only IT department?

    I think companies need to realize that IT is part of any business model, period. If you feel that you can get away with having an IT staff and save money by implementing a DIY, then I can only assume you want your business to fail.
    MilitaryGeek
    Reply Vote I'm for No
  • Privacy concerns

    You didn't mention security. I think there will always be privacy concerns and so any business worth its salt will at least need to retain some data on premises.
    vgrazi
    Reply Vote I'm for No
    • RE: Great Debate: Cloud Computing: SMB's only IT department?

      @vgrazi

      Sir,

      I became Active in the Air Force in 97 and Security was important then, so when I got out in 07, it seems that Security wasn't important 10 years later. So do still feel that SMBs are truly understanding the importance of Security?

      If the answer is yes, then there shouldn't be any debate at all about having an IT staff in any business, regardless on the size or complexity of the business. Any thoughts???
      MilitaryGeek
      Reply Vote I'm for No
      • RE: Great Debate: Cloud Computing: SMB's only IT department?

        @MilitaryGeek Really? The more difficult you make it for folks to do their job the more likely they will try to do the job on the sly. Security in this day and age is a misnomer - are you going to take away their phones, which they need so the can be available 24x7? And will that lone IT person give their id and password to someone to cover for them - or their SecureID? IT doesn't have the training or skills to understand the behavioral side of technology - which is both the biggest risk and biggest upside potential they face.
        devils_advocate
        Reply Vote I'm for Yes
  • RE: Great Debate: Cloud Computing: SMB's only IT department?

    We have IT consultants instead of a department, and no cloud. The question is meaningless for many companies.
    hayneiii@...
    Reply Vote I'm Undecided
  • RE: Great Debate: Cloud Computing: SMB's only IT department?

    As the CEO/CTO of an SMB, and working on a private cloud system, I am busier, not less busy. The cloud can provide many things, but the providers can't provide us the exact tools for our specific business. Someone needs to write/adapt those. The person in charge of that is me. To expect/allow the cloud provider to do it would be suicidal to this company.
    mheartwood
    Reply Vote I'm for No
  • RE: Great Debate: Cloud Computing: SMB's only IT department?

    Cloud Computing may solve the issues with software installation/updating. But i am the only IT person in the SMB i work for and they could not survive without an IT person here. Simple tasks such as attaching files to an email or ftp upload/downloading. Trying to open files over and over that have no file ext association. i know of very very few IT consultants that respond to there clients in a quick fashion. and if this is available i am certain that it will cost you much more than inhouse IT.
    MLHACK
    Reply Vote I'm for No
  • Vendor Oversight

    Not every SMB can get away with outsourcing without having to manage the vendor. A small community bank cannot get away with telling the FDIC we let the cloud provider do it all without someone in an IT role overseeing the operation.
    Middle_Age_Man
    Reply Vote I'm for No
  • RE: Great Debate: Cloud Computing: SMB's only IT department?

    I handle the IT at my firm. I would still need to handle inside IT, whether our programs and data were stored on our servers or in the cloud. Except for occasional fits and starts, most of my IT time is not directed toward database management or actual programming fixes.
    Warprints
    Reply Vote I'm for No