EMC VP Hollis: VCE, Vblocks Not For All Partners

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Talk about how the role of IT changes with cloud computing.

If you really step back, this is a new relationship between IT and the business. Old-school [IT] was about a project, budget and IT guys would put the stuff in and make it work. Now the relationship between IT and the business is different. It is providing services on variable infrastructure. You can't touch your server anymore. It is part of a pool of resources. So IT organizations typically look for help in a couple of ways: How do you make the case to business that this is a good thing to do? What is the upside for business owners to change how mission-critical applications are delivered? What is the upside for them? Sure, they would like to save money but how can they do a better job with these new variable resources? That high-level consulting service is most valuable.

One level down we are not only talking skills in IT but entirely new roles and organizational models. In old-school capacity planning, the storage guy did his thing, the server guy did his thing, the network guy did his thing. In a cloud model that is all aggregated. You have to basically decide ahead of time how much local provisioning you are comfortable with, so we are seeing new titles like cloud capacity planning. With architecture it is not enough to be specialized in one technology discipline, you have to understand all of them: security, management and how everything comes together. So there are titles like cloud architect and cloud application developer. Now that we have the requirements for those skills, where are people going to find smart partners to help them adapt and train their people on the new consumption model?

How dramatic is this shortage of cloud skilled IT employees?

If you are a cloud architect or have cloud architecture skills or have some success justifying cloud models to business or even mundane things like cloud security, cloud governance and compliance, you get a different relationship with your customer than somebody who is talking about technology that was invented in the 1990s. There are plenty of those folks around.

What is your message to partners who are looking at how to evolve in this technology landscape?

In three to five years, this will all be mainstream but during the disruption from the previous to future models there is opportunity for everybody. You have to get the wide range of technical certifications required. It is not just enough to have VMware. You have to have storage and networking and database certifications.There is a very broad list of certifications required. Good project management skills are necessary. Cloud doesn't happen magically. It is usually a sequence of projects that not only includes technology, but organizational changes and people change control issues.

You are measuring IT very differently. What are those new skills? I put it this way: I have to unlearn just about everything I knew about IT in the last 20 years. The good news is we have seen this movie before. There are those of us of a certain vintage who remember the golden age of mainframes which were fully virtualized, oversubscribed resources for thin clients where everything was integrated end to end. A lot of these people who will be very successful in the cloud world actually have hard-core mainframe skills they learned in an earlier generation, simply because a lot of the disciplines, mind-set and thinking are the same. Just the technology is different.


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