Cloud computing pushing IT in new directions

The cloud has long been billed as a disruptive technology, but the full scope of its impact on IT departments and corporate operations has been difficult to see in real-world examples. A recent CompTIA study explored how the cloud is affecting businesses and found that while many businesses are embracing the technology, it is also forcing them to change how they function.

The CompTIA study found approximately 80 percent of companies currently use the cloud in some form, while more than half expect to increase how much they use the technology by 10 percent or more during 2012. Furthermore, roughly 85 percent of those polled said they are more positive about cloud computing than they were last year. When the same study was performed in 2011, it found that 72 percent of participants had become more optimistic about the technology.

While the enterprise sector seems to be embracing the cloud, the study also found that more pervasive cloud use is leading to major disruptions in how IT functions, which impact day-to-day corporate activities.

Seth Robinson, director of technology analysis for CompTIA, explained the shift toward large-scale cloud deployment could lead companies to make major operational changes that begin on a policy and procedural level but are eventually followed by a major shift in how IT functions and how organizations interact with third-party companies.

“Internal IT departments also are on the edge of major transformation,” said Robinson. “The option for cloud solutions for various parts of the computing stack is opening the doors for IT professionals to perform new tasks, or at least perform old tasks in new ways. It’s also creating new job roles and functions to more tightly integrate IT teams with lines of business.”

Integrating IT and business functions is becoming one of the most important tasks executives have to handle as the technology becomes more popular. Cloud computing offers efficiency, productivity and fiscal gains when used correctly, but can easily become overwhelming and difficult to manage when it does not align with corporate procedures. As a result, business process management software and similar technologies can help companies strategically manage their technologies and data in such a way that they enable process-level operational improvements. This is accomplished largely through automation of core data gathering tasks and by providing better context for information that comes from a variety of internal and external sources.