‘IT professionals increasingly define themselves by capabilities they excel at managing’ says Atlassian chap

Cloud magically means ‘Microsoft expert’ is less valuable than ‘sales tech expert’, apparently

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“Historically, IT professionals defined themselves by the vendors whose technology they were good at managing,” says John Stame. “Technology consultants might have marketed themselves as experts in Dell systems, or might have advertised their deep expertise with Microsoft tools.”

“But it’s increasingly more common for IT professionals to define themselves by the capabilities they excel at managing, like recruiting, marketing, finance and accounting, or sales tech.”

Stame, Atlassian’s senior manager for enterprise architecture and SaaS management, offered up that opinion in a post titled “How roles and responsibilities change in a cloud transition”.

The post provided the observation, “Simply put, moving to cloud releases IT teams from time-intensive maintenance of on-prem technology infrastructure. No more downtime to install updates, and no need to worry about expensive technology falling out of date.”

Little of which, to your humble hack’s mind, is correct outside of a SaaS environment.

Stame ploughed ahead, as follows:

Roles like solutions architect and enterprise architect, which focus on stitching together external cloud services to address business needs, become especially crucial in a cloud transition, though their titles may change. Infrastructure roles such as network administrator, database administrator, and storage administrator, have to calibrate skills to cloud scale infrastructure, and have to deal with more layers of automation. Workers with this valuable experience often refocus on managing cloud environments like Azure or AWS.

At which point, surely, they represent themselves as AWS or Azure experts, which is rather similar to representing themselves as Dell or Microsoft experts today.

At times, Stame seemed to be quoting from the procedure manual at the Department of the Bleeding Obvious, with proclamations like: “The degree to which the IT org chart changes will depend on what proportion of the department’s workload is shifting to cloud.”

Or there was this: “The restructuring of an org chart that accompanies a new tech stack can get lost in conversations that center on budgets and technical capabilities, but it is no less important. Managers should be ready to move personnel around in a way that matches their skills and experience to new and altered tasks. This may require training opportunities for staff. It will also scale back the need for certain skills, and could require completely new skills in their place.”

Hang on a minute, is he saying that when things change, business had better change too? Now that’s disruptive thinking.

Stame also argued that “In an on-prem setting, IT professionals only interact with vendors at the point of sale, after which those in infrastructure management roles are responsible for maintaining the software or hardware.”

Which will come as news to plenty of IT pros that have ongoing vendor relationships as they work together to keep demanding applications humming.

The post suggested that once organisations go cloudy, “managing a capability largely becomes a matter of staying on top of the vendors that enable it, rather than physically maintaining the infrastructure and software. While this system does require some people skills, vendor management is typically less time-consuming than on-prem stack management.”

Which feels a little off, as it’s not as if software that backs up cloud data - for example - is set and forget. Nor did managing an on-prem stack come without vendor management requirements, either to stay on top of issues or to participate in the customer feedback for a vendor's use to ensure a constant flow of feedback.

The thrust of Stame’s post – that cloud will mean plenty of change for IT pros and that business expertise is increasingly important - is hard to deny. But his post was also enormously contestable in many ways. ®

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