Cloud practitioners have a vital role to play in modern business. They build secure and effective cloud platforms, keep costs under control and ensure the cloud delivers true value for the business and its customers. In all of these areas, AI and Gen AI will have a significant impact in the coming years – not least enhancing infrastructure management, capacity planning and security monitoring.
AI empowers cloud practitioners to hand off some of the ‘undifferentiated heavy lifting’ - repetitive admin tasks around managing costs, security and compliance - and spend more time focusing on higher-level opportunities such as architecture design, strategic decision-making, and driving innovation within their cloud environment.
The role of the cloud practitioner is evolving
Today, cloud engineers are involved with all of the mechanics of cloud computing within an organization. Years ago, developers focused on programming, and operations teams focused on security, IT infrastructure and compliance. These two have gradually merged together, and today’s cloud practitioner now has a very broad remit to cover.
They are also on the hook for getting innovation going. Every aspect of creating the right environments for development, including making them cost effective, secure, fast and able to use the latest technology, now sits with a cloud practitioner.
And if that wasn’t enough, they need to be sure their strategies feed into wider organisational goals of delivering value for customers whether that been a more personalised, secure, or fast experience. With all this responsibility it is very fortunate that AI can help, and it’s certainly a tool that all cloud practitioners need in their belts.
Where will AI be most effective?
Prompt-based Generative AI can support and streamline code creation. One of the big advantages of the cloud is that the infrastructure is almost entirely on a software layer. With the use of prompts, AI can build the foundations for infrastructure templates and accelerate the starting point so developers can focus on the ‘fit and finish’. Plus AI can spot errors in code and change code to different programming languages, making it very useful to developers. Put all together, organizations will soon be able to stop reinventing the wheel with each project and will instead be able to focus on adding value that is specific to each business need.
Another example is that AI will soon be able to help make decisions around how to optimise architecture. We are already seeing it being used in data anomalies for security, and to monitor for any issues. With AI-generated recommendations, it’s possible to be more proactive with rules and in monitoring behaviors, to find security threats before a breach happens.
AI can support cloud practitioners to ensure cloud projects are cost effective too. Operations teams are now having to focus on pulling back costs and demonstrate they can think like a CFO in addition to their role as developer or architect. By adding in certain parameters, AI can help these teams to optimise for cost while maintaining quality and speed. For example, AI could be used to automate the real-time purchase of additional capacity during high demand periods, using criteria which balances the market cost of reserved instances with performance agreements.
Don’t forget about customer value
While it may not be advanced enough yet, cloud practitioners should be thinking about ways that AI can create value for the business or its customers, beyond just optimizing cloud services themselves. A company could be delivering products or services to the customer faster and relieve pressure on developers, but it doesn’t mean what they deliver is better, or that it’s adding value.
If AI can help to analyse how customers are interacting with the company and spot patterns, they can be provided with more tailored and personalised recommendations on products or services that will enhance their experience, it will be a really effective tool for greater customer value creation.
Actionable advice for embracing AI
The most important advice for working with AI I can share as a cloud expert is to not to ignore the technology. It doesn’t need to take up all your attention, but trying to understand the basis of AI and look for opportunities to explore it is really important. We are still at the exploratory stage of AI and Generative AI for cloud, and it’s a good opportunity to get prepared for when it scales and becomes more widely implemented.
Finding time to keep learning and explore new spaces like AI has to be part of the job – not a luxury. We have to start exercising that AI muscle and keep learning as we go. There are pioneers looking at where AI is going, but we shouldn’t get distracted from the fact that most businesses are at the early stages of cloud maturity and need to get the fundamentals right first.
Finally, it’s important to issue a word of caution around ethical concerns that come with AI. Cloud practitioners need to add ethics and privacy to their responsibilities, and take note of how systems are trained and run, if they are modelled on the right information and if there are any biases in the data.
If we take all of these factors into consideration, AI will be well-positioned to enhance the role of the cloud practitioner, and them bring value to customers, in the years to come.