What is an IT manager’s role in the cloud hosting environment? While moving to a cloud hosting environment shifts the IT manager’s job from hardware to software, there are several areas where management decisions and oversight are still required. An IT manager must still manage key aspects of the cloud hosting environment such as authentication, access, approval processes, support and security.
How will user authentication be handled? Will employees use employee numbers for user IDs or combinations of their initials and last names? Will users need simple user names and passwords to access the cloud hosting environment or will they also need dual factor authentication such as key-fobs and SecurID cards?
What levels of access will be set up in the cloud? Will there be a view only role, engineering or change manager access and a system administrator level? Or will there be additional levels of access, such as limited access areas for very sensitive data? Managers must define the access control limits for each type of user account, describing the approved transactions and activities each type of user account can perform.
IT managers must decide how access will be granted. Who can request various access levels? What process must they go through for approval? Who can authorize various access levels? Who determines when access is no longer required, and when is access revoked? Who decides which individuals receive administrative rights and for how long? These formal approval processes must be determined by the manager and formally published as procedures for the IT department to follow. IT managers must also have plans in place to ensure compliance with these approval processes by IT support.
IT managers will set goals for IT support of the cloud environment. If technical support for the cloud is outsourced to a third party firm, the manager will sign a service level agreement contract. What support level is required of the group maintaining the cloud hosting environment? What is the required up-time of the environment? How quickly must the system administrators set up new users? How long do they have to handle user tickets for problems such as being unable to view data or requesting upgraded permissions? What are the penalties the support provider incurs if the service level agreement isn’t met? IT managers also review system metrics such as up-time, number of user tickets, network performance and data volumes.
One of the most important parts of an IT manager’s role in the cloud hosting environment is security. Even when support is managed by a third party firm, managers still have responsibility to ensure the security of the system. What security measures are in place on the system today and how is its effectiveness ensured?
Managers must also have plans to maintain security via periodic patches, planned testing and intrusion detections. IT managers should also have reviews of access logs to look for unusual access patterns. Are any users accessing the system late at night? Are any accounts showing unusually high activity, potentially indicating a single account in use by multiple individuals? Are users slated for departure from the company accessing more data than expected? Are user accounts being deactivated quickly? IT managers must also decide how often system activity must be checked, what constitutes suspicious activity and how rapidly support must act when suspicious patterns are observed.
Photo credit: Wovox