Mike Goodenough, 

global director of cloud field engineering, savvisdirect, says:

In some ways, the emergence of the cloud is bringing IT full circle. As if harkening back to mainframe days, we are once again using enormous data centers to house massive IT systems. Only now these systems are collective and go a million businesses deep, instead of supporting just one. And that’s shifting the role of IT.

Infrastructure as a Service is one of the fastest-growing area of public cloud computing, according to Gartner. As worldwide cloud spend balloons to more than $110 billion by 2016, the research firm expects IaaS will grow at a 41.3 percent compound rate annually.

This new era of IaaS presents an opportunity for IT managers. When server rooms move to the cloud, IT managers are freed from the time-consuming manual updates and maintenance now managed by a cloud service provider. This allows them to do the bigger, game-changing projects they’ve always wanted to do but never had time for.

Cloud providers with scalable, easy-to-use services and customized support free up even more time for IT managers. This is critical because, as technology paves the way for newer, better ways of doing business, leaders will increasingly call upon IT managers to deliver more value.

Businesses of all sizes stand to gain when, thanks to an IaaS model, manpower resources can be used to advance the business, rather than oversee its operations. Services now deliver what once was provided by legions of staff, and budgets for computers and software can now be invested in lasting value for the company.

In true alignment, numbers now back this shifting opportunity for IT managers. With cloud computing, what was once made possible with CapEx servers costing can now come from the OpEx budget. This means that operational parameters move from ROI on assets to value realized from capabilities. Many IT leaders will agree this as it should be since computing resources support ongoing services to users; they are not hard assets measured and amortized in physical CPUs, disks, networks and blades.

In the transition from mainframe computing, technology turned squarely and permanently toward the user. We are making a similar shift today – away from a notion of IT defined by infrastructure and to a notion of IT as business value. This is a time of great opportunity, and every IT manager should be reevaluating the state of their IT in light of this new paradigm.

Mike Goodenough is global director of cloud field engineering, savvisdirect, at Savvis, a CenturyLink company and global leader in cloud infrastructure and hosted IT solutions.