One of the major benefits ascribed to cloud computing is reduced costs. In particular, a reduction in IT administration requirements resulting in either smaller IT departments or no IT support at all. To consider this in more detail requires examination of which IT services can be delivered via the cloud. In addition to SaaS, computing platforms can also be delivered from the cloud. Platforms incorporate the execution environment for applications as well as the tools used to develop the applications. A typical platform may be comprised on an operating system, a database, server software and an application software development environment. The delivery model for this type of service is known as Platform as a Service (PaaS), and example include Microsoft Azure, Google App Engine and Force.com.
The cloud can also deliver Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). With IaaS, servers, networks, storage and load balancers can be instantaneously self-provisioned from the cloud on a pay-per-use basis. Examples of this kind of provider include Amazon Web Services, Digital Ocean and SoftLayer.
The diagram above shows the three service delivery models of the cloud. The amount of on-premises IT support and skill required by an organization increases proportionately from top to bottom.
Whether or not an organization can reduce its IT department depends on the level of services being used from the cloud. Information technology professionals are also crucial to successfully aligning IT resources with the new and revolutionary business models being enabled by the cloud. IT departments are increasingly bearing the responsibility for managing and operating hybrid IT environments that could include public, private and community clouds, as well as outsourced and traditional in-house assets.
In summary, the requirements placed on the IT department and any associated administrative support depend on the types of services being leveraged from the cloud. One thing that is clear, however, is that the IT department cannot be completely eliminated.
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