The great cloud migration is clearly underway. And the cloud adoption rate is only accelerating. According to the State of the Cloud Survey from RightScale, hybrid cloud adoption in 2016 rose year-over-year from 58% to 71% among enterprises.
The cloud attracts organizations because of the affordability and agility benefits it provides. The cloud is transforming how companies can store and manage information by eliminating large physical data centers and complex software customizations.
So the cloud is undeniably altering how organizations are managing their IT operations. And it stands to reason that the cloud will also impact the IT staff. After all, if the cloud becomes the primary data center, will there even be a need for a traditional IT department?
The Role of IT in a Cloud World
A survey we conducted at the recent Microsoft Ignite show in Atlanta casts some light on the topic. A third (33%) of nearly 140 IT pros polled thought that the cloud will be the end of the traditional IT team. Among those, 32% work in large organizations (as defined by more than 5,000 employees.)
These survey results also imply that the cloud is already changing the role of the IT admin. A vast majority (90%) of the queried IT professionals said they believe the cloud is forcing them to learn new skills.
Security is the Constant
But if there’s one IT role that will remain consistent, it might be security. According to the RightScale survey cited above, security is the top cloud challenge for 29% of respondents, behind only “lack of expertise”. And our survey revealed that 43% of IT pros find it difficult to secure data in the cloud.
The cloud makes certain IT processes easier, and it may be tempting to rely on a cloud provider for security. But businesses would be wise to remember that the same IT security problems they face on premises follow them into the cloud. Here’s one way to look at it: the cloud is just computers somewhere else. If you move your servers to the cloud, you just have computers further away, but with most of the same security problems. Businesses must ensure that adequate steps are taken to secure access to their data, because cloud providers are often not responsible for these matters.
Foremost among these essential security steps is protecting privileged credentials, which are frequently used as the hacker’s gateway into an organization. These credentials allow them to move between systems as they access and steal valuable data. In large IT environments – whether on premises or in the cloud – there are usually many thousands of privileged credentials that may be exploited. So it’s revealing that more than 40% of respondents to our survey admitted that they do not change credentials in the cloud as frequently as they do on premises.
The cloud is changing IT. It’s an industry in transition. But the cyber security challenges remain. They’ve just moved into a new realm.