Staffing the Cloud


Published: June 30, 2013 by Dr. Robert Boyd

For the past few decades, the typical IT shop relied on system administrators to help with the care and feeding of local servers. They installed and upgraded operating systems, maintained network security, coded integrations with local and external systems, managed firewalls, consulted on proposed applications, configured new requirements and typically had folks available to answer the phone when someone in the organization needed help. I work on a university campus so we also hire a few really smart undergraduates who are only a skateboard ride away when your desktop is not cooperating.

The new crowd will begin their education by learning the difference between public, private, hybrid and community clouds. The cloud-based staff will understand provisioning resources as required with on-demand self-service. When looking at shared network assets, a solid grasp of resource pooling is essential. Broad network access and rapid elasticity is required across future networks and will scale, for large or small organizations. Here’s the key: rather than maintain servers, the new generation of talent in your IT area will spend less time babysitting hardware and more time supporting your core business and services. Well, at least that’s the promise of the cloud sales team.

When the server room starts looking sparse and the business software and systems are relocated to the cloud, there is still plenty of work for the local IT crew. But their responsibilities have changed, in some cases, dramatically. The IT skillset now needed understands the business (public library, bookstore, middle school, social media giant) and will roll up their sleeves to tackle vendor management. Vendors of all sorts see the demand for their services (human resources, accounts payable, property management, etc.) and will need IT expertise for understanding business requirements, specifications, storage needs, integrations, identity and password management and on and on. In a library setting, a deep understanding of technical, access and reference services and their points of intersection, coupled with a solid grasp of network and shared resources and their support, might be the perfect ticket for a great job. On the ground but in the cloud.

Suggested Reading:

Ballard, T. (2013). Lost in the cloud. Online Searcher, 37 (3), 38-40.

Bansode, S., & Pujar, S. (2012). Cloud computing and libraries. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 32 (6), 506-512.

Breeding, M. (2013). Pressing limits of scale for library technology. Computers in Libraries, 33 (4), 18-20.

Goldner, M. (2011). Winds of change: Libraries and cloud computing. Multimedia Information & Technology, 37 (3), 24-28.

Green, C., & Ruane, E. (2011). Collaboration in the cloud. College & Research Libraries News, 72 (8), 454-460.

Hastings, R. (2012). Researching, evaluating and choosing a backup service in the cloud. Computers in Libraries, 32(6), 58-71.

Jordan, J. (2011). Climbing out of the box and into the cloud: Building web-scale for libraries. Journal of Library Administration, 51 (1), 3-17.

Rose, C. (2011). A break in the cloud? The reality of cloud computing. International Journal of Management & Information Systems, 15 (4), 59-63.

Tallent, E. (2012). Hey! You! Get off of my cloud. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 17 (1), 1-6.

Wale, C., & Richardson, E. (2013). Cloudy with a chance of collaboration. AALL Spectrum, 17 (6), 10-12.


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