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Workforce Considerations for Planning a Cloud Migration

Moving an organization’s data or applications to a cloud provider is not very different from moving to a hosting or managed services provider. If you outsource Web, DNS, or other services to a provider today, then you already understand that the benefits an organization gains from outsourcing neither begin nor end with reducing staff or infrastructure. If you've never outsourced before, then learn from those who have: Don't downsize too quickly.

Here are three tips to help your partners prepare for a cloud makeover.

Tip 1: Focus on which staff to retain. 

You will still need business, admin, and technical staff to make informed choices when choosing -- and later managing -- a cloud provider. As detailed in the following links to recent trade and technical journals, many of your customers’ concerns about the selection process,systems management, and security are strikingly similar to the questions they asked and issues they considered with hosting or managing service providers in the past. Some changes, for example, would include:

  • Business staff will now be responsible for ensuring that no business matter -- contracts, payments, policy development, contracted levels, or technical support -- interferes with delivering services the organization has contracted to the cloud operator.

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    Image by Veribatim
  • Administrative staff will now manage "add, drop, change" -- the provisioning aspects that exist whether you support users and applications in-house or "in the cloud".
  • Technical staff will now manage "your stuff," from end points and user accounts to content and application development or support, along with managing and monitoring capacity (what you'll need from the cloud) based on the organization's needs.

Tip 2: Supplement existing core competencies with new ones.

Many aspects of cloud migration may be similar to what customers already do with a managed service provider or outsourced datacenter operator. What is different from overseeing managed services prior to the cloud era is that the organization may need to acquire competencies in cloud-related areas. For example, (and depending on what you are moving to the cloud), staff may need to understand cloud infrastructure, service management, or provisioning. (See Cloud Gives Birth to a New Breed of Engineer.) They'll also need to know how to monitor new cloud technologies in a complementary manner to the assets and infrastructure they keep in-house.

Tip 3: Make customer care priority #1. 

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Organizations embrace clouds to consolidate and to benefit from the economies of scale cloud computing offers in performance, resiliency, security, and general technical competency. If these are the operational areas that the cloud is supposed to provide, don't think, "What's left for the technical staff?" Instead, ask your customers: "Now that you've freed up expertise, how can you use the team to complement what the cloud is doing to improve productivity and enhance user (or customer) experience?" Consider projects that will raise security awareness, streamline workflows, or finally take on a big-data or similar initiative that you've put off for lack of... experienced staff!


The bottom line is that cloud services or infrastructure offer significant benefits or economies beyond workforce reduction (which are nicely documented in a whitepaper from Microsoft). While companies may see some reduction in staff, this is a secondary benefit compared to the delivery of more reliable and usable service to users or customers. The latter are, after all, the real reasons an organization embraces technology and online presence.

Originally posted at The Champion Community 11 July 2012


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