Greetings from OSCON in slightly rainy Portland, Oregon. Oh how I have missed the rain! Appropriately, today is the Cloud Summit, which is taking a look at the potential and future of the cloud from a lot of different angles. Of course, everyone in the room is a big fan of cloud computing and what it can do for the future, but there are plenty of viewpoints on what that future is and how we get there.
One of the more interesting questions posed during the Summit was “Is the enterprise ready for the cloud?” Mark Masterson, Innovation Lead at CSC, a technology business solution firm, posed this question then promptly answered “no, absolutely not, not even close.” He then quickly said that it doesn’t really matter if they are or not, because it is here.
Masterson, as well as numerous other speakers, talked about the commoditization curve, where basically first innovation happens, then a product or service begins to emerge, followed by a period where that product or service is usable and ultimately considered a commodity. He sees cloud computing as finally at the commodity phase and now predicts major competition to emerge in cloud solutions.
So if the cloud is now at the commodity phase and more and more businesses start to turn to the cloud, how can they really take advantage of it? Well from what I heard, it seems the biggest advantage might be the ability to take more risks. With the cloud, IT infrastructure and many software services can now be procured by businesses with little capital investment and often without being tied to one vendor. This low cost and high flexibility creates amazing opportunities for innovation and some of the smaller players that may have been boxed out in the past now have the potential to compete with big players in various fields.
With the cloud creating this platform for innovation, businesses need to take advantage or they may very well find themselves falling behind. J.P. Rangaswami, Managing Director, Strategy and Innovation for BT Design, sees the cloud as leading a business revolution that will be more organic as opposed to the linear, predictable model that is preferred today. Concepts of control become irrelevant. This means business need to let go of some control and be willing to let things “happen.” Again, the ability to let things “happen” or take risks is much easier with the emergence of the cloud.
Rangaswami also said the future business model resulting from the cloud will be more like developing a social game than a movie. Instead of scripting from start to finish, businesses will need to account for multiple players, new interactions and increased outside inputs. It is far more unpredictable and the end is never certain.
For many this concept is scary and for some it seems unrealistic. To be honest, I am struggling to wrap my head around how the current model of business could change to accept this organic concept. However, it is certainly a concept that makes sense and with the increased ability of businesses (and individuals) of all sizes to take risks with the help of the cloud it seems as though we better start thinking about how to maximize its potential.
So is business ready for the cloud? Probably not, but it seems as though the cloud is very much ready for business and the most successful businesses in the future will embrace it. Is your business ready?