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Expert says cloud services are shifting the role of IT

While the need for manual maintenance tasks is being reduced, IT professionals are beginning to take a more active role in the overall business.

As companies turn to cloud services for a greater variety of business processes, the role of IT professionals is likely to change to accommodate new technology. That doesn't mean IT's importance will be diminished, but it can be challenging to fully understand what new job roles will entail and how the future IT worker fits into the scope of the organization. As Nick Tate of the Australian Computer Society put it, the information technology field is likely to change so drastically that it will be unrecognizable within the next five years.

Drastic organizational shifts are disruptive, but they can also provide advantages for those who prepare accordingly. According to Tate, the role of the technology professional in the future will be to manage third-party services and optimize them according to an organization's objectives.

"Interestingly, the role of the chief information officer will change in this new environment," Tate wrote, providing a specific example of how new expectations will drive opportunities. "As they are freed from the burden of managing their own infrastructure, CIOs will be free to devote more time to the improvement of the business through ICT. This may well elevate the role of the CIO."

This may also signal a shift from the values that cloud storage companies will need to emphasize. As internal IT roles shift toward management, they are likely to trust service providers that can show technological expertise and the ability to connect their solutions with specific business goals. As Tate noted, this will make IT certifications more important, so that third-party vendors can establish credibility.

The migration to cloud services
Technology journalists are often easily excited by cloud-driven initiatives, and many of them make it sound like the entire industry is going to morph overnight. These claims may be overstated, but that doesn't mean the shift isn't happening. As NetworkWorld John Dix noted, the migration to the cloud can be best described as "slow and steady." He cited data from the State of the Network survey, which found that 75 percent of budgets are currently allocated to on-premise solutions, but that number is expected to drop to 69 percent within the next 18 months.