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Decision Brief

Your Cloud Success Requires New IT Roles

Hank Marquis, Global Knowledge Practice Director


Why does IT need new roles for cloud computing?


Successful cloud adopters know that cloud requires skills IT staff may not yet have. They also know that understanding the roles of cloud computing simplifies adoption and improves success. This brief explains the roles and tasks required for success with cloud computing.


IT leaders often make the mistake of assuming cloud is just another technology to implement, but cloud is a service model, not a technology. Still, cloud affects your people, processes, and technology — especially if your team isn’t expert in service design and delivery — and it changes how users, administrators and auditors interact.

Cloud standards define five roles: consumer, provider, auditor, broker and carrier. Understanding these roles for each cloud service model and delivery model you’re considering is crucial for a successful cloud initiative. Focusing on them enables you to visualize cloud business value and the changes required to optimize your efforts. You’ll need to accept that current teams may not fully understand or have experience with these new cloud roles and tasks. As you explore how your current IT and business teams align to them, you may find skills that better fit cloud roles in business units other than IT.

Establishing cloud roles helps you compare and optimize cloud service and delivery strategies, and it helps your teams understand the knowledge, skills and abilities they’ll need. For a successful cloud effort, you need some new roles in IT.

What You Need to Know:

Defining cloud roles can make your cloud initiative, as well as other complex IT initiatives, easier to discuss and manage. Roles provide a foundation for discussions throughout the adoption curve — from defining cloud to optimizing cloud solutions. A person or team can have multiple cloud roles. It’s common for a team to use public Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to provide private Platform as a Service (PaaS) or to broker and audit Software as a Service (SaaS) operated by the business but managed by IT.

Many IT leaders presume current IT knowledge, skills and abilities are enough, but cloud service and delivery models require different approaches to acquisition, provision, consumption, and audit. Cloud computing can be hard to visualize and even more difficult to optimize. Using cloud roles helps you better compare cloud service and delivery strategies. If you don’t understand and adapt to these new roles, you can miss the efficiency, agility and innovation benefits cloud promises.

  • Cloud consumer: Maintains a business relationship with, and uses service from, cloud providers.
  • Cloud provider: Makes cloud SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS available to cloud consumers and owns or contracts for all the hardware and software necessary to deliver service
  • Cloud auditor: Continuously assesses cloud services, operations, performance, and security
  • Cloud broker: Negotiates relationships between cloud providers and cloud consumers and manages cloud services use, performance, and delivery
  • Cloud carrier: Connects cloud SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS providers to cloud consumers (sometimes physically moving data on DVDs, tapes, or drives)


What You Need to Do:

Use cloud’s standard roles to ensure you’ve considered each major set of cloud adoption tasks. Remember that each cloud model changes control, responsibility, and accountability, but not necessarily liability.

  • Analyze the cloud solution you’re considering, analyze your team, and assign each role appropriately. Review job descriptions and processes to ensure clearly defined and understood responsibilities. Verify each role has recognized and approved authority to execute as you expect. A cloud responsibility assignment matrix can help here.
  • Assume current teams don’t fully understand their cloud roles and tasks. Cloud’s service orientation is different than traditional IT. Determine who will be the consumer, provider, auditor, broker, and carrier for each cloud service model (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS) and delivery model (public, private, community, and hybrid) you’re considering. Remember to consider new skills. For example, financial engineering, a new activity associated with cloud computing, includes choosing PaaS services to integrate and continuously optimizing cost/performance.
  • Investigate how closely current teams align to the new roles and tasks. Analyze the knowledge, skills and abilities of each person or team. Recognize and remedy gaps, and ensure each person or team has the required resources and capabilities to accomplish the assigned activities.
  • Assess people or teams based on cloud roles vs. current positions. Keep an open mind about shadow IT as well. You may find that some roles and tasks fall outside of IT, as many business teams are already more skilled at cloud roles than traditional IT.
  • Start now by finding out who can best:
    • Negotiate relationships between cloud providers and cloud consumers and manage cloud services use, performance, and delivery (cloud broker)
    • Conduct independent assessment of cloud services, operations, performance, and security (cloud auditor)
    • Provide connectivity and transport of cloud SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS from cloud providers to cloud consumers (cloud carrier)
  • For SaaS, remember that basic system administration is a consumer function, and include those who can best:
    • Use applications and services for business process operations (cloud consumer)
    • Install, manage, maintain, and support the software application on a cloud infrastructure (cloud provider)
  • For PaaS, include those who can best:
    • Develop, test, deploy, and manage applications hosted on a cloud (cloud consumer)
    • Provision and manage cloud infrastructure and middleware for the platform consumers (cloud provider)
    • Provide development, deployment, and administration tools to PaaS consumers (cloud provider)
  • For IaaS, include those who can best:
    • Create, manage, and monitor services for IT infrastructure operations (cloud consumer)
    • Provision and manage physical processing, storage, and networking and the hosting environment and cloud infrastructure for IaaS consumers (cloud provider)

Learn More:

For more information about how our training solutions can improve productivity, enhance efficiency and sharpen your competitive edge, visit, contact a Global Knowledge transformation consultant at 1-919-463-7383, or email