Not headed to the cloud? Your employees are!

May 30th, 2014 by - 11,630 views

Even if an enterprise isn’t yet ready to make the transition to cloud computing, there’s a good chance its employees have already made the investment. Because the technology allows easy access to files and other common forms of data, it lets professionals have more flexible work lives that often involve remote access. If an IT department doesn’t respond to that trend, however, it can pose a potential risk to an organization’s network infrastructure.

Two business professionals solidify a working relationship.

The old-fashioned way of solidifying a relationship.

Unfortunately, many tech professionals working behind the scenes are unaware of the situation and therefore can’t take the necessary measures to ensure security. It doesn’t help to blame employees for using cloud storage or even company leaders who haven’t yet recognized the needs of their subordinates.

Solidifying a relationship 
Before the current wave of cloud adoption, it was relatively easy for enterprises to keep their IT departments on the back burner. As long as the in-house system operated the way it was supposed to, that’s all that mattered. However, the 21st century added a number of ways for employees to obtain information, from smartphones and tablets to Web-based file sharing. As a result, a schism occurred between IT professionals and the rest of the company, according to Computerworld.

“There’s a tug-of-war tension in the enterprise right now,” said Gartner Analyst Lydia Leong, as quoted by the source. “IT administrators very rarely voluntarily want to go with the public cloud … The people who are pushing for these services are not IT operations people but business people.”

This tension has created an environment that isn’t constructive for adapting to current IT trends. Computerworld acknowledged that when Human Resources, Marketing, and other departments pursue cloud investments without sharing those plans across the company, IT personnel can’t figure out what information is moving through the environment. This operating model also disables the CIO’s ability to knowledgeably form a beneficial service level agreement with a cloud hosting company.

Assessing needs, acting on them 
After communication between an IT department and the rest of the enterprise has been established, then can an infrastructure be developed. Andrew Forehlich, a contributor to Network Computing, noted that standardizing each in-house architecture for all corporate branches is consistent with both best practices and common sense. Yet a number of factors often force designers to alter an architecture to meet the needs of an individual location.

That said, cloud computing makes the diversification and customization processes much easier to handle. In the traditional sense, one department may require on-premise WAN optimization tools and another may need tangible intrusion prevention appliances. The cloud lets companies access these accouterments much faster and less expensively. Complex infrastructures consisting of data centers and firewalls are accessible through cloud servers, making it easier for IT personnel to adjust specifications to the specific needs of employees or departments in a more fluid manner.

Most important, the technology ensures CIOs and their teams can maintain better IT infrastructure oversight, no matter how distributed the infrastructure may be. Once those professionals are able to conduct regular assessments, they can gather a more in-depth understanding of a corporation’s cloud usage.

“Cost and branch user requirements often superseded homogeneity, and you ended up with branch office infrastructures that were dramatically different from one another” wrote Forehlich. “But thanks to the new era of cloud computing, many of these differences soon will be offloaded and masked inside the cloud.”

Working together 
Before businesses can capitalize on these benefits, however, it’s important to promote an environment of transparency. Only when employees and IT departments create a platform and processes that allow them to work cohesively will companies realize the advantages of investing in the cloud.

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