Wednesday, 28 February 2018 10:21

Leading Technology Trends, Today and Tomorrow - Cloud Computing and the PM/BA Windfall

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The rise of cloud computing as a cost effective, secure, flexible and straightforward way to implement new software applications has had a profound effect on the computer industry and IT organizations.

It has change the way software is created, marketed, sold, implemented and supported. It has also accelerated the replacement of legacy systems, enhanced organizational computer power and has increased the viability of shadow IT related projects.

From a Project Manager (PM) and Business Analyst (BA) perspective, cloud computing has:

  • Increased the percentage of PMs and BAs within IT organizations, relative to the number of programmers, testers and other technical professionals
  • Increased the number of projects, relative to the size of the IT organization, all of which need BAs and PMs, but not necessarily programmers and other technical staff
  • Enhanced BA visibly to senior management within both IT and the business community, because they are the ones configuring cloud-based features, rather than having programmers create new functionality contained within in-house developed applications.
  • Increased demand for both PMs and BAs within Marketing and other non-IT areas, caused by increased user-driven cloud implementation. This is often referred to as “Shadow IT”.

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As many of you may know, cloud computing is generally divided into three categories, each of which has a different effect on the PM and BA professions.

Software as a Service (SaaS): When most people think about cloud computing, this is what they think of, namely, software that is deployed via cloud. Well known examples include SalesForce.com and Microsoft Office 365. Both these products, and thousands like them, are controlled and updated by the vendor on their hardware platform. BAs and PMs working on functionality-based software primarily work on this SaaS type implementations.
Platform as a Service (PaaS): Is when a vendor provides the computing platform on which software can be developed and managed by IT. In this case, generally speaking, the operating system, security, connectivity and the software development tools and platforms are provided by the cloud vendor and used by the IT organization to build and rollout and manage software, as if it was on their own computer hardware. The PM and BA roles when development applications on a PaaS based infrastructure is basically the same as work done on a non-PaaS platform residing on the company’s internal data center.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): I like to think of IaaS as renting a data center where the hardware and data communications are provided, but IT does everything else. Here too, like software developed on a PaaS cloud platform will have little effect on the traditional roles played by PMs and BA.

Mentally, I like to think of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS as “Buy and use it”, “Rent and develop on it”, “Rent, manage develop on it”.

For those of you who like working with data, Cloud Computing is a mixed blessing. On the down-size, if your company has deployed a number of SaaS type systems, it fractures your company’s data model because large portions of your production data is being stored and controlled outside your firewall and your reach. The up-side of this from a PM/BA perspective is that this loss of control is magnifying the importance of internal data warehouses, needed for internal reporting, analysis and cross-system integration. If you love data, you’ll like these types of projects. Interestingly, because of this issue with data and the want for platforms in the cloud, Database as a service (DBaaS) provides data warehouse type capabilities, providing collection, storage, reporting and analytical type functionality.

If data is not your thing, but you love cybersecurity related projects, there is also Security as a service (SECaaS), which provides a combination of security management, monitoring, reporting and other related functions.

Now let’s talk about all PMs, not just PMs working on computer related projects. You thought I forgot about you, didn’t you 😊

Cloud computing is a great thing for PMs of all types, not just those in IT, because of the wide variety to tools you have at your fingertips to help you with your project management and portfolio management activities at little or no cost. Classically, PMs (and BAs) only could justify the purchase of one or two tools to help them manage their projects and perform their tasks. Now, given the number of cloud-based, low-cost or open-source options, your variety of job-aids is almost endless.

In closing, as a PM or BA, cloud computing is here to stay and continuing to widen its reach, functionality, and importance to businesses of all shapes and sizes. It is also an enabling platform for everything from machine learning, to big data to the internet of things. Embracing cloud technologies has the ability to enhance your career and increase your professional marketability.

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Eric Bloom

A former CIO, today Eric Bloom is the Executive Director of the IT Management and Leadership Institute, the governing body of the ITMLP and ITMLE leadership certifications, and a leading provider of IT leadership, interpersonal communication and business skills training. A former CIO, today Eric Bloom is the Executive Director of the IT Management and Leadership Institute, the governing body of the ITMLP and ITMLE leadership certifications, and a leading provider of IT leadership, interpersonal communication and business skills training. 

Mr. Bloom is also an Amazon #1 bestselling author, former nationally syndicated columnist, keynote speaker, TEDx Talk speaker, trainer, CIO.com contributor, past President of National Speakers Association (NSA) New England and an IDC Research Advisor.  
He is also the author of various books, including his Amazon bestseller, “Productivity Driven Success: Hidden Secrets of Organizational Efficiency” and "The CIO’s Guide to Staff Needs, Growth, and Productivity."
Contact him at eric@ ITMLInstitute.org, follow him on Twitter at @EricPBloom, or visit www.ITMLInstitute.org.

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