The system administrator as the purchaser of IT services.

An alternative title would be “who holds the purse strings in smaller IT shops”

An interesting side effect of utility computing, where it services are metered and charged based on usage, is that it shift control of IT spend away form management and into the hands of the IT administrator.

In smaller IT shops, the IT manager maintains the budget.  Any activity that requires expenditure is brought to the IT manager for approval.  Larger purchases are sent up the management chain until it reaches someone with enough authority to sign it off.

But with a utility billing model, the ability to control spend with a purchase order is significantly limited.  And change that increases (or decreases) usage will have a cost impact. Configuration changes that are minor on a cloud platform – changing the memory on a server, taking a snapshot before an upgrade, adding another server to the backup or monitoring platform – will have a direct cost impact.

Who will own the budget here?  Will the sysadmin need to understand the budget as part of the role?  Will the IT manager be required to approve any change with a potential cost impact?

Larger more cloud focused organisations have dedicated teams within IT to manage cost control, but how will that translate to an organisation with an IT team of 5?

It will be interesting to watch this sector reach a consensus on this.

   Owen.

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