Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Some apps not suited to the Cloud

A lot of thinking is going into how all IT services are going to move into the cloud. I tend to agree that the economics of Cloud computing are too great for organisations to ignore. However, I'm starting to think some of the commentary and services being provided are similar to those we had around the .com boom. At that time, everything was being turned into a .com, even when it made absolutely no sense. I fear the same is happening with Cloud computing. Some services don't make sense in the Cloud, or at least the way they are currently being considered. For example, Office apps may not make sense out in the Cloud. Even Microsoft are jumping onto the bandwagon.

I think it makes total sense for documents, spreadsheets, presentations etc (i.e. the data) to be stored out in the Cloud securely. I'm not as convinced that running all the apps themselves in the Cloud is such a good idea. A hybrid model will be best in some cases - even though this will be a more complicated service to create.

At this stage I think we all have to face the fact that the MS Office suite is pretty much a de-facto standard - even with Microsoft messing with the user interface in Office 2007 to make the learning curve interesting again! I don't have the purest view that some others have around the Cloud where everything runs inside the browser and must be hosted remotely. I don't mind thick-client apps when it makes sense. In certain cases they make total sense i.e. photo, video, sound editing and I would argue Office-type apps (particularly for the power user types).

Where I think the Cloud could add a huge amount of value is helping make this type of a hybrid environment (Cloud and thick-client apps) better is around support services for upgrades, patches, helpdesk, training, pro-active maintenance (i.e. fix it before you knew it was broken) etc. I know some of these services already exist but they could be so much better, particularly if they were provided as an integrated service. Think of the potential around SME services and corporate services in this area. In fact, in some cases the software could even be given away and revenue driven from services.

Most organisations rely on IT support services companies of some sort to help them with their IT environment. All of these companies need to start thinking about moving away from "man in van" onsite support and start looking at providing real Cloud based managed services (including infrastructure and application support) - not the services they currently call managed services.