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How the cloud turned IT inside out

For decades IT was provided by servers physically located on-site within organisation’s own data centers. Depending on the size of the organisation, this 'data center' may be a dedicated property with advanced networking, cooling and extraction, and physical security – or it may in fact just be a cupboard down the hall.

Regardless of the size and sophistication of an organisation’s IT infrastructure, there’s one thing that they all had in common: they were all on-premises, they were all internal.

The mindset of IT professionals mirrored this perspective. IT infrastructure was a castle, and IT’s job was to dig the moat, man the battlements, and hire a portcullis guard with a good nose for sniffing out dodgy characters.

Security has always almost-exclusively focused on the perimeter. Everything inside the walls of the keep was nice and safe, and efforts were focused on keeping all the bad things out. In other words, IT has spent decades cultivating behaviour, processes and technologies that leaned towards introspection and defensiveness. 

Technologies like network security, web filters, firewalls, DMZ, IDS, IPS, VPN, are all designed to patrol and secure the various boundaries between your IT environment and the outside world.

And then the cloud came along, offering better innovation, improved flexibility and mobility, greater economies of scale and affordability, less maintenance, and more consumer choice. All sounds good.

The cloud, though, is the outside world. It’s everywhere and all over the place. How on Earth do you put a perimeter around it? Well, you can’t - it’s just not possible. So as IT services progressively advance into the cloud, traditional perimeter security dwindles in utility and value. IT has been blown inside out, but IT Teams can’t just give up and admit defeat altogether. They need new ways to control and manage IT in the cloud. New processes, and new ways of thinking about IT.

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IAM Cloud was relatively early to these revelations and managed to capitalize early on by building a platform that can help organisations manage IT in the cloud. Since then we’ve watched a major shift happening in IT all over the world. As technology moves to the cloud, the teams of people managing it have in-turn been becoming more extrovert - more externally minded.

This is an exciting time for IT, because it turns out that there’s a whole world of opportunity out there that technology can help organisations to attain. 

This applies to every industry and every sector in the world – but let’s look at what’s happening in education as an example. 

It was the case 5-10 years ago that IT’s function was exclusively to support staff and students. That is to say: people internal to the organisation. But as the cloud has grown, universities have realized the opportunities that digital technology can bring to stakeholders outside their campus walls too.

The student journey doesn’t start on the first day of school – it starts at the open day, months before. Capturing student information and beginning the engagement process early with digital services can have a significant benefit to both the internal processes of student recruitment and to its outcomes. In the cloud, IT can now serve an important recruitment function.

Similarly, a student’s journey doesn’t end on the day of graduation. That student will be lifelong member of the institution’s alumni foundation. Keeping graduates connected and engaged for life can help build significantly stronger relationships, and in turn leads to improved development of those alumni connections, and ultimately fundraising. In the cloud, IT can help alumni relations departments significantly increase their endowments.

They are just two simple examples, but the reality is that all organisations can benefit from greater engagement with their important external stakeholders, be they job applicants, retirees, contractors, tenants, customers, trustees, suppliers, partners, sister companies, fans, professional networks and so on and so forth.

On-premises, a good day in IT is one with no complaints, no security breaches or down-time, and lean process efficiency.

In the cloud, a good day in IT is influencing company strategy, and proactively driving the business to evolve, grow and succeed.

Identity is fundamental to successfully enabling and managing IT in the cloud. Check out the IAM Cloud platform, one of the leading fully-cloud identity services, to see how it can help your organisation make the most of the wealth of opportunities the cloud can provide. 

 

Topics: it strategy, identity management, cloud

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