‘Private cloud architects’ for hire?

EMC Corp. is predicting that IT leaders will soon be looking to hire “private cloud architects.”

Just as virtualization and its specialized administrators have elevated in priority over the last several years, the company is betting on the idea that organizations will no longer view their geographically disparate data centres as isolated IT hubs, but rather as a single, coherent data centre. EMC is even developing a new private cloud architect program where IT workers can learn and be certified in EMC technologies that facilitate the building of this cloud infrastructure.

Inside EMC’s own IT department, the company already has some staff working under the “private cloud architect” moniker.

“I’m not sure if it’s an entirely new position, but it’s definitely a new filter on existing IT architects,” said Ted Newman, global practice director for private cloud services at EMC. “They’re responsible for understanding and developing a balanced portfolio of services and underlying technologies around internal and external resources.”

The fact that EMC is pushing this idea is unsurprising to anyone following this week’s EMC World 2010 show. The company took every opportunity it could to stress the private cloud and its importance to tomorrow’s enterprise IT shops.

“The big (public) cloud guys believe there’ll be one or two big ones, but that won’t be the case,” CEO Joe Tucci told journalists at the conference. He said that while public services such as those offered by Google Inc. and Amazon.com will blend into some enterprises, the prvate cloud will handle the brunt of the work.

Tucci called the move to cloud, or IT as a service, as it is also called, the biggest wave in the history of computing — bigger than mainframes, bigger than the distributed computing wave, and even bigger than the PC/microprocessor boom.

The key to making this all work, Tucci said, is the successful “federation of resources.” This is especially key, he added, for companies operating in an hybrid public/private model. EMC unveiled a slew of products at the show to do this, including its new VPlex virtual storage system that aims to let IT departments pool and share storage resources across multiple data centre locations.

EMC CIO Sanjay Mirchandani said organizations will increasingly be looking for people who can put together a framework for the use of technology from outsourcers, internal cloud resources, and internal physical resources.

“You’ll end up killing yourself if you don’t do the capacity planning properly,” he said, referring to the importance of ensuring companies have rhyme and reason for their post-cloud IT infrastructure purchases.

This is especially crucial, he said, for companies that have been seriously digging in to virtualization. At EMC, the company’s IT department operates under the motto of “virtualize, virtualize, virtualize.”

“If it isn’t virtualized it won’t make it into the enterprise anymore,” Mirchandani added. EMC’s goal for the end of 2010, he said, is to have 100 per cent of its x86 architecture virtualized.

Another requirement for a private cloud expert would be to rationalize legacy apps as they grow into their new virtualized data centres. Because there is no “silver bullet” determining what apps should be renewed and which should be scrapped when modernizing IT, Mirchandani said, having forward-thinking people capable of making these decisions will be key.

For Newman, it all boils down to an expert who can help facilitate the movement of applications and data between various IT systems. “People that understand how to move (data) out there and how to move (data) back are going to fill that role,” he said.

Jon Martin, director of product management at EMC’s cloud infrastructure group, said even though some companies might put the cloud buzzword aside, any companies moving toward a private cloud or hybrid model will need the skills to manage that build-out.

But, according to Newman, the creation of a private cloud title might actually cut down on the transformation issues that many companies face when moving to a new computing model.

“If you aren’t educating people on what the new model means and you provision cloud services the way you provisioned service databases 15 years ago, then you’re going to be in big trouble,” he added.

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