Managing through the 'scariest' part of private cloud evolution

EMC: Cloud computing clouds IT employee satisfaction. But haven't we already been through much of this with mainframe computing?
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

Does cloud computing cloud IT employee satisfaction? That's the question raised by Chuck Hollis, CTO at EMC, at a cloud confab in New Hampshire, reported by CRN.

Chuck Hollis VP -- Global Marketing CTO EMC Corporation

Chuck Hollis VP -- Global Marketing CTO EMC Corporation

Hollis says he's seen the evidence at EMC's own private cloud effort that IT departments start to have difficulties with cloud computing initiatives.

The people issues cropped up during phase two of EMC's three-phase cloud evolution, Hollis is quoted as saying. He called this the "scariest phase" for IT, since it means an upheaval in IT processes and core systems.

As EMC maps it, phase 1 of the private cloud evolution involves development and testing of IT-owned applications for the effort. Phase 2 involves moving mission-critical applications to the cloud formation, and phase 3 is the provisioning of IT as a Service to the organization.

Fueling the IT angst was the changes that went along with phase 2, including replacing IT management, security staff and back-end IT staff. As Hollis is quoted as saying:

"During this phase, this is where org (organizational) chart issues started to come in.  People's jobs started to change. Younger people in the organization were being promoted over older people."

Changes of this magnitude would be scary to any employee, so small wonder the IT department was putting up so much resistance. Imagine the ruckus if many functions were being exported out to public cloud formations. Perhaps that's something to consider in ROI calculations of adopting cloud, whether its private or public.

No layoffs, apparently. Hollis said that the "aggregate level of IT" staffing at EMC is "the same or growing."

In his own blogsite, Hollis also points out that the shift to a private cloud is analogous to moving applications to a centralized mainframe. In fact, IBM's System z is capable of supporting almost unlimited instances of Linux within its logical partitions, as well as running Linux, Unix, and Windows applications within its specialty processors that can be hooked into the mainframe's resources.

Many mainframers may recognize the issues and approaches now being discussed for private clouds, he says:

"In many ways, the current private cloud discussion might be construed as a re-framing of mainframe concepts, only this time with a healthy helping of the new tech economics: commercial  hardware, plentiful bandwidth and open source application software. Maybe the supporting technology is rather new, but the underlying cloud operational processes that deliver all the magic really aren't all that new -- especially if you've been around in some the larger mainframe shops."

There is another thing that is different than simply shifting resources into a more centrally managed setting as well. That is, IT managers and professionals are asked to be doing less technical and focusing more on business issues. Hollis observed that in EMC's own private cloud evolution there was a shift in IT goals:  "There are more business analysts. More people interacting with business leaders. More end user focused."

That's been a goal of service-oriented efforts for more than half a decade now. It seems management is more cognizant of private cloud, so let's see if this service orientation under a new guise catches hold in a stronger way, since there appears to be more management support.  It's interesting, though, how an IT-focused company such as EMC still encountered issues from its IT employees as it moves to practice what it preaches.

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