Big Data Journal Authors: Liz McMillan, Andreas Grabner, Michelle Drolet, Elizabeth White, Kevin Benedict

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Are IT Departments Dying?

Google + Solar VPS

In a recent Google + Cloud Computing community discussion post, we asked the community the following question:

This is a general question for the community:
At #CloudExpo2013 in Santa Clara, a ton of keynote sessions touched on the idea of the #Cloud killing internal IT Departments within companies of all sizes. Most presentations noted that while the Cloud is killing traditional IT Departments, at least one – three members of an existing IT team will be necessary for communication and onsite tech assistance.
Our question is this: How long do you think it will take before the traditional IT Department becomes fully decimated? How long will it take for traditional IT Departments to become legacy, sorted away in the dustbin of technological advancement?
Additional question: What amount of technological advancement and access will it take for IT Departments to become a thing of the past?
Looking forward to your answers.
- Brad L. Solar VPS Social Content Coordinator

One of the responses we got, from a Mr. Michael Hudak, stuck out to us:

Solar VPS Google Plus Response

Michael makes a great point:

“Do not look at is as displacing but rather reorganizing the IT Department in such a way that allows them to focus more on company agendas and goals and elevates the mundane task of basic Day to day IT operations, patch Tuesdays, break fix, ip config/changes /Security etc. No longer is the IT Department hired to do just back ups and keep the lights on it is expected of them.”

The point here being, with the influx of the Cloud, traditional IT departments are changing, shifting, shrinking and becoming more focused on high end tasks as opposed to spending time in the day-to-day mundane actions of fixing common email or operating system errors. But the question still remains, with the onset and take over of Cloud services, is the traditional IT department dying?


To fully explore if traditional IT Departments are dying, we need to take a look at some of their basic day-to-day operations and if/how Cloud bases solutions are upended those operations.

  1. Email and Telephone – Traditionally speaking, Email management was in the direct wheelhouse of a companies IT Department. The department made sure all email across the network was being sent and received without a hitch. They set and made the rules for company wide spam filters, what fell into those spam filters and what cleared it. Concerning Telephone, traditional IT Departments were in charge is keeping the phone lines up and running while also ensuring they interact with email systems correctly. Beyond this, traditional IT Departments maintained and updated the physical exchange/telephone servers companies kept on premise to conduct all of their Email/Telephone needs. As you know, this is no longer the case. With Cloud based Email/Telephone platforms and Cloud hosting providers, Email and Telephone are no longer/doesn’t have to be a major concern of internal IT Departments.

  2. Managing Internal Servers – Already mentioned in short, but management of internal servers needs a bit more fleshing out. Before a companies ability to hire a third party hosting firm, companies needed to purchase, maintain (power, cooling, cleaning) and update internal company servers. In most cases, because the company in question wasn’t an IT firm, those servers were kept in the back of a dark closet with limited access, limited cooling supplies and little to no backup power sources. All said, purchasing, maintaining and updating internal servers meant needing a highly qualified IT department on staff. This is no longer the case. Web hosting solutions – colocation, dedicated servers, VPS, Cloud Hosting, shared hosting etc. – have never been so easy or affordable than they are right now. That said, once the company internal servers are migrated to a third party host, the IT Department loses a big daily activity.

  3. Cost of CPU – As noted by ComputerWeekly, “Tom Austin, head of software research at Gartner, explains: “It’s about exploiting the scalability available in the Cloud environment – that is one issue. But another is that it is a new class of outsourcing that exploits hundreds of thousands of CPUs as a single compute engine, at a cost per CPU and per CPU cycle that is dramatically lower than you could ever do internally. As a result, he adds, Cloud Computing is to compute cycles and services what Raid was to disc storage. “Raid was originally developed by IBM to improve the performance of best in class discs. But by the late 1980′s, people realized that they could take low reliability and low performance discs, apply Raid and create highly reliable and dirt-cheap discs. So there’s a metaphor,” says Austin.” More simply, it costs a company less to rent compute resources on a monthly basis than it does for them to own them internally. For the IT Department, this means companies have less and less incentive to own those compute resources onsite, i.e. no need for large IT Departments to maintain those resources.


So, what does all this mean for the traditional internal IT Department? It means trimming and focusing. As smartly noted by Mr. Michael Hudak on Googe +, “Do not look at is as displacing but rather reorganizing the IT Department in such a way that allows them to focus more on company agendas and goals and elevates the mundane task of basic Day to day IT operations, patch Tuesdays, break fix, ip config/changes /Security etc. No longer is the IT Department hired to do just back ups and keep the lights on it is expected of them.” To put this more simply, as a result of the Cloud, IT Departments will shrink however in shrinking they will be able to focus on higher level needs rather than fixing basic operating system issues.

So, will IT Departments die as a result of Cloud Computing? No. Instead they will shrink and become more powerful.

The Cloud and IT

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