How to Create a Successful Cloud Team
While your admins might have virtualization experience, transitioning to a cloud-first IT strategy involves a real paradigm shift across your entire IT team. You’ve heard some of this before: you’ll be more agile, your team will be focused on service delivery instead of hardware, you’ll work on business issues rather than break/fix.
What you may not have considered are how the roles of your new cloud team may shift from previous responsibilities, or just how far reaching the culture change may be. Here are some tips to build a successful cloud service team within your organization.
Cultural Changes on the I.T. Team
When you don’t have a data center to take care of, the IT team must focus itself on service delivery. How are you solving the problems your users face every day when they interact with technology? How are you making the business a more efficient and effective organization?
Your entire team must therefore be customer-oriented while they deal with the introduction, maintenance, administration, and eventual decommissioning of IT services. Every IT service must be able to prove its value to the business and it must be demand-driven. This is how you get ahead of shadow IT: deliver the systems users request, rather than providing the solutions that you believe are the best answer. IT management should have regular road map meetings with other stakeholders and managers in order to keep IT services aligned with current business objectives. If you don’t already have a method for users to provide feedback to IT, implement one.
Your team will be taking on new and adjusted roles within the cloud paradigm, and as such they must be collaborative throughout the design, architecture, and maintenance processes. Part of this might involve a service team within your IT team that helps coordinate and streamline. What is each unit working on this week? This quarter? What work can be reused for another project? What templates can be created?
This helps lead to an agile culture that is able to adjust infrastructure on the fly to respond to the business. Continuous improvement is the name of the game.
Cloud Infrastructure Team Roles
Even if you aren’t operating a data center in the traditional sense, you still need to have infrastructure-focused units. The Cloud Infrastructure team combines infrastructure, operations, governance, any remaining data center operations, architects, security, storage, networking, and help desk teams into an ecosystem that helps build and maintain the virtualized platform.
The ultimate goal is to design, deploy, operate, and modify cloud infrastructure in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Whether you’re using on-premise virtualization or a combination of cloud providers, the cloud infrastructure team doles out cloud infrastructure to the cloud service team.
Roles within the cloud infrastructure team may include Cloud Architects, Cloud Engineers, System Analysts, System Administrators, Developers, and Business Managers/Cloud Executives.
A Cloud Architect develops and performs ongoing maintenance for architecture and design of the cloud environment, keeping design in line with the overall business IT standards and working with other stakeholders to keep cloud architecture aligned with service tiers, internal SLAs, and business goals.
A Cloud Engineer designs and maintains the cloud infrastructure components, including network design, virtual machine resource allocation, storage, and security. Different engineers may focus on specific areas within the overall engineering category.
Data Center Operations teams maintain your remaining hardware, network, storage, and supporting physical IT infrastructure assets, making sure power is allocated and maintained, keeping components redundant for better uptime, and ensuring the cloud platform is functional, meeting minimum system requirements and adding new infrastructure as needed to support cloud services.
Analysts monitor performance and security of the system to guarantee uptime and avoid threats. They alert the engineering team of capacity problems or security holes before they have the chance to hurt service delivery.
Administrators provide ongoing administration as well as support within the cloud environment, including using any portals to manage VMs. While the architect designs the overall framework and the engineer makes the technology fit the framework, the administrator performs the more daily tasks within that functioning framework.
Developers integrate different cloud services through their APIs or provide custom application development within your cloud.
Finally, the business manager and/or executive keeps an eye on the cost of cloud services as well as their impact on the bottom line of the business. This includes keep track of overall cloud spending, chargebacks, SLAs with service providers, contract, and licensing.
Cloud Service Team Roles
The Cloud Infrastructure team is supplemented by the Cloud Service team, which delivers services rather than designing and administrating the underlying infrastructure. Services may include SaaS platforms, whether hosted internally or purchased from a service provider, as well as Platform as a Service, DevOps templates, pure Infrastructure as a Service, data analytics platforms, or business focused applications like ERP.
Cloud service team members include Service Owners, Architects, Developers, QA, Analysts, Administrators, and Help Desk.
Cloud Service Owners are the manager of a given service and are in charge of defining the scope of the service, designing the service delivery mechanism, pricing and/or payment, and SLA management.
Cloud Service Architects take the goal of the service and architect a system design for development and administration, working directly with the Cloud Infrastructure team to get the compute resources necessary.
Cloud Service Developers create the provisioning process around the cloud service as well as helping architects with the technical requirements to create a service blueprint or template that can be used to deliver the application or system.
QA, as in software development, tests services before their deployment to the general user pool, working to locate bugs, communicate issues to developers and architects, and automate testing and service rollout.
Analysts, similarly to Cloud Infrastructure Analysts, work out forecasting models and perform ongoing monitoring on the cloud service to guarantee availability, performance, and security.
Cloud Service Administrators manage the method of access to the cloud service, like a web portal, and also integrate the service with other cloud infrastructure, including external resources. Administrators also assist with deployment of new services and help provide support beyond the Help Desk.
The Help Desk for both the Service and Infrastructure team receives support inquiries, troubleshoots cloud infrastructure and/or cloud services on behalf and alongside users, refers to and helps create documentation and routine processes, and escalates to the appropriate department when they can not resolve an issue. They also facilitate communication between user groups and other members of the cloud team.
While these roles are not set in stone, they do provide a launching point to reorganize your IT team according to their strengths when transitioning to cloud-based IT service delivery. Depending on how much of your infrastructure is internal vs. external, many of these roles may fall upon the service provider, or your corresponding team member may share the load with the CSP.
If you find this organization isn’t working, gather feedback from your IT staffers and revisit it after a few months. This type of continuous improvement is a hallmark of delivering cloud services — your team organization itself can be agile!