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It wasn’t that long ago – back around 2010-2012 when I thought that my career would progress as it always had, through Exchange 2065 running on Windows 2066 (as long as you had Exchange 2065 CU4 loaded of course!) in a primary and DR data center pair with disk-based backups and a whole bunch of robots to physically install all of the server hardware for me.  I started hearing rumblings about Office 365 and thought – like most Windows infrastructure engineers and architects at the time, that they’d never get any major businesses and certainly would never get any financial or public-sector customers to move their email into Microsoft’s data centers.  As I began to take on more and more Office 365 migration projects however, I started seeing exactly that – large corporations moving to the Cloud!  Financial and public-sector customers were all seeing dramatic improvements in Service Level and productivity.  IT departments were able to shine the way they’d always wanted to!

As I’ve worked with hundreds of IT personnel, I sometimes get asked – either overtly or somewhat indirectly, “What will my job be like once this migration is completed?”  Some people even wondered if they would still have a job at the same company or if they would need to find another job.  This needn’t be the case at all.

Transformation & Cost Optimization

As an IT specialist working with a Cloud-based solution, your primary goals will be to help your company become more agile, create new technology services, while reducing costs. All of this magic is possible with the Cloud.  This may be new to many people that are coming from the traditional model of IT infrastructure where you were basically just trying to provide the best service you could with the infrastructure that you had.  With Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS), your company now has access to a virtually unlimited capacity in geo-redundant, state-of-the-art data centers.  This is completely awesome, but it also brings on the possibility that if unchecked, your organization could incur unintended costs. So one of your primary tasks in this new Cloud world is to have visibility and control of the servers and services that are in use.  As new services are brought online, you will need to monitor usage and cost to ensure that you are sized correctly and continue to get the best bang for your buck. Working in the Cloud, you never have to slow down to order hardware and software to achieve your business objectives.  The Cloud is waiting to be put to use immediately!

Automation

As part of the process of driving transformation and optimizing the cost of Cloud services and bringing the highest level of service possible to your users and customers, automation will become central.  Many tools are available in various Cloud environments to help manage services and software deployment such as Ansible, Puppet, and Chef while finer control can be achieved through Powershell and Python scripting.  You will get more done with automation and more of your time can be allocated towards higher-value services for the business.

Multi-Cloud Integration and Identity Management

The Cloud really begins to get interesting when your organization decides to incorporate Cloud services from multiple providers.  For example, utilize Azure Active Directory and Azure SQL from Microsoft while using Amazon Workspaces on AWS, while storing file data in Box.  It is possible to integrate multiple solutions and services so you can provide a customized business solution and a seamless experience to your users. With constant innovation and proliferation of available services, the need for deep technical integration expertise will be in high demand.  This is the type of challenge that allows the IT departments of the Cloud to truly shine.

Test Test Test

So many organizations that I have worked with simply don’t have the time or the budget to build out proper test environments.  The Cloud offers a fantastic platform to rapidly test your custom application, a new version of a product, an upgrade procedure – all completely isolated from your production environment. With the Cloud, you can configure and test with your desired environment and then spin down all of the services and you will only be paying for the services used for the short time that you used them.  Spin your environment back up to test out the next upgrade and enhance your testing process by building on the previous upgrade! This level of low-cost, rigorous, iterative testing takes your service assurance to a whole new level.

This is the exciting world that awaits us when we learn and embrace the Cloud.

About the author:

Steve Selick is a Senior Architect with CloudView Partners. Steve brings over 20 years of experience with leading consulting and systems-integration companies (Top 5 Microsoft Gold Partner) designing, implementing, and supporting large, complex migrations to the public Cloud (Azure, O365, IBM Cloud) as well as within private infrastructure. Steve has deep expert-level knowledge of Cloud architecture, Azure, Office 365 solutions, Microsoft solution stack, and Enterprise architectures.

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