I’ve seen some crazy things in the IT world in the last 5 of my 20 years of experience in the field, but the push to move to cloud computing and hosted services has got to be the craziest thing I have seen so far. Please let me explain.
Times are bad right now, and companies are making hard decisions about their IT staffing and services. Somehow in the last 5 – 10 years or so, IT support seems to have gone from a mission critical status to being considered overhead. As other departments have had to do, significantly reduced IT departments are now supporting more devices, services and people with fewer staff.
As with other departments, older IT staff members have been “encouraged out the door” and replaced with fewer, lesser experienced staff. I have seen Unix server administrators put in charge of administrating Windows servers, even though they had no experience supporting them. Not sure of the executive thinking there – they are both servers, so they must be the same?
I have seen a high end Windows cluster server administrator who kept the executive and top engineering clusters of a major corporation running for years, be moved to be the sole support person for the corporate wide NAS servers. Though he had little to no experience with the NAS servers themselves, the storage group was dissolved beforehand and the one person remaining that he was replacing had already been placed in a new position, so there would be no training available. He was handed a user manual and told – “Good luck”.
I have seen a half empty building that was once full of corporate IT support staff. This was after several other buildings that were full of IT support staff were dissolved and consolidated into the one building. One part of the support staff that remained was told that their work week would be changing to a swing shift. They would be working 2nd shift for part of the week and 3rd shift for the remained of the week. The supervisor had the audacity to tell these former 1st shift workers that the new schedule would be better for their families.
I was told once by a distraught IT Director that he was informed by the corporate executives that the acceptable level of IT staff to employees is now 1 to 300. With all of these employees using computers or mobile devices, what happens when more than one critical system goes down at the same time? What happens to the quality of support when IT staff is flooded with requests and “emergencies”?
These are just a few things that I have seen or heard in the last few years, trust me there are many more. But what does these cutbacks and shifting of unqualified staff to critical positions have to do with cloud computing and hosted services?
Many companies are turning to online services to help cut costs and restore some level of IT support to their organizations. But what truly makes you think that these online services are not going through the same internal cutbacks and employee changes to cut costs of their own? How secure will your information really be with them? Your level of support?
If you can’t support your own IT, and who knows your business better than you, why would you think that external services can really do a better job? Don’t get me wrong, cloud computing and hosted services aren’t necessarily a bad thing. But making the decision solely for additional profit is not a wise move. Executive level decision makers really need to talk with (and listen to) their senior IT leadership to see if the move to hosted services would truly be a benefit or detriment to their company.