Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why not use the Cloud?

Have a look at this interesting survey from on cloud computing. CIO Cloud Computing Survey

It brings up some very interesting topics and some not so surprising results. I was also reading an interesting blog post from JP Rangaswami about complex adaptive systems and was thinking that the addition of cloud computing into the mix will create some interesting scenarios down the line. The environments in some companies will become even more complicated with the addition of Cloud or SaaS applications and environments. However, some companies will emerge with arguably simpler environments by embracing everything the Cloud stands for.

I know there are loads of different definitions of what is and isn't Cloud Computing. Here's a few discussions:

In my opinion it boils down to whether a company decides to run the service themselves or get somebody else to do it for them. The important point is not what it is called but how and who is running it. I've been in a few organisations over the years who were either building and running hosted / SaaS / ASP / bureau / Cloud environments or using them to run or support parts of a business. I am a strong advocate of moving as much as possible of traditional IT to external providers. Why try to do it all yourself? It doesn't make long term economic sense.

Typically, what happens with IT? It gets more and more expensive to maintain and run it as existing applications are extended / upgraded and new applications and environments are added. Never mind the addition of new staff and acquisitions and mergers etc. The IT bill mostly keeps getting bigger. This trend needs to be reversed so the costs can be contained or even reduced. Particularly with the current economic mess effecting most companies.

I'm not saying that IT is irrelevant. But I am saying that most companies spend most of their time, effort and budgets supporting basic IT environments. They are not spending half as much time as they should figuring out how to really support their businesses and how to really utilise technology to drive their business forward.

So where does Cloud Computing (and all it's derivatives) come in? Cloud computing principles can (over time) help companies change the cost / complexity curve. Move more and more applications, infrastructure, and even support external to your company and into the cloud. This can free up precious time, effort and budgets to concentrate on the real job of exploiting technology to improve the mission of the company.

It really comes down to figuring out what you are good at and focusing all your effort on that and letting others (who are better at it than you) focus on all the other peripheral stuff. Don't try to tell me that your environment is different and won't work in the Cloud. There are so many examples of things that people said were impossible which are now commonplace. Don't be left behind. There are some real business benefits to be gained using what is available today and will only get better as the technology and services improve over time.