My Thoughts on the Cloud Computing Trend

Last month I posted "IBM Cloud Computing White Papers".  In that post I provide summaries and links to a number of white papers IBM has posted on the Cloud Computing topic. 

SWSC16 As I mention in that post, I did a bunch of research on the topic of Cloud Computing back in late 2007 and 2008.  The post last month gave me the opportunity to reflect on the cloud computing trend.  In 2008 it was an emerging buzzword in the IT industry.  Today, 2 years later, the concept is a little more defined and the hype has died down a bit. 

Yes, there is more that needs to happen before the true potential of cloud computing becomes a reality, but there is no question that we all need to pay attention to the vision of cloud computing…because cloud computing (or whatever it ends up being called) is the future of the IT industry. 

Why you ask?  There are a number of reasons.  But primary in my mind is that it offers businesses the promise of business agility.   Agility enables the business to respond quickly to customer requests for new products and services.  It also allows businesses to partner more quickly to reach new markets faster.  And it also allows businesses to quickly change in the face of competition.  Here are some basic reasons why the cloud computing concept will take off.

  • Economics: Clouds will require a very small up front investment.  Usage will be be billed by consumption.  The resulting reduction in Total Cost of Ownership will allow businesses to pursue improvements in operational efficiency and productivity.
  • Risk Management:  In some cases, there will be no fixed time commitment.  This will allow businesses to try many new services faster.  This reduces big failure risks and allows clients to be innovative.
  • Time to Market:  Businesses will be able to adopt new services quickly for pilot usages and then scale quickly to a global scale.
  • Information Society:  Cloud computing will provide business executives value-added information generated by the collection and analysis of massive amounts of unstructured data.
  • Ubiquitous Society:  The cloud treats all devices the same making the cloud accessible via a heterogeneous set of devices (sensors, kiosks, PC, mobile device, telematics..)

In today's fast world, new competitors, with innovative business models (e.g. Google, Amazon, etc.), seem to be able to rapidly change their business.  To match these types of competitors, businesses must have a business architecture and an IT infrastructure that is flexible enough to respond quickly to all opportunities and threats.  The emerging cloud computing concept enables businesses to become more agile because it offers the ability to get to market quickly, and with a lower capital expense.  It also assures that as demand increases, resources can be added incrementally, without the need for major architecture changes.

From an IT standpoint, business agility implies the ability to rapidly build and configure tailored solutions which span internal and external systems.  Cloud computing can enable the development of applications in real-time and then also enables them to be quickly deployed globally to any device from sensors to mobile device to PCs.  Once developed, Line of Business executives need those applications to execute in real-time, scaling to meet the needs of the business.   Follow on generations of applications must be able to handle increasingly higher amounts of data as the user base grows.  Once running, applications in the cloud offer non stop operation.  Users aren't burdened by HW and SW upgrades.  

In the future, there will be all sorts of new types of services enabled because of computing clouds.  Services we can''t even imagine right now.  The fact is that the more applications and services that are deployed in the cloud, the more opportunities there are to leverage services provided by others in the same or other clouds.

The biggest 'hurdles' to realizing the vision of cloud computing is security, privacy, & risk Management issues.  These issues can be HUGE to overcome.  The security issues will be very complex to solve and a number of the white papers I summarized in the post "IBM Cloud Computing White Papers" discuss those security issues.

I do believe that we will solve the 'hurdles' and businesses will learn to trust running our systems in the 'clouds'.   Remember the initial fear you had of buying things online with your credit card?  I bet you do that now with much less fear.  Perhaps you don't even think about it.

Anyway, Cloud Computing is a disruptive force in the Information Technology industry and it is one of the trends I will continue to watch closely.

Forrester: Ten Predictions For The E-Reader/E-Book Market In 2010

forrester_logoThe HorizonWatch Community first did a report on e-paper way back in August of 2001.   Since then, I’ve been interested in following this technology.  

Announced in November, 2007, Amazon's Kindle thrust the adoption of e-paper technology and e-books into the big time.  The Kindle combines the paper-like reading experience on a handheld display and the ease of wireless technologies. Users can browse, select, purchase and download books, blogs and articles, and do it all on the go, without a PC. 

Forrester analysts Sarah Rotman Epps and James McQuivey recently published an article at paidContent.org giving us ten predictions for the e-book market in 2010.   Here’s the list…

  1. E Ink will lose its claim to near-100% market share for e-reader displays.
  2. Dual-screen mobile phones and netbooks will eat into e-reader demand.
  3. Apps will make non-reading devices more e-book-friendly.
  4. eReaders will get apps, too.
  5. Amazon will launch a suite of new touchscreen e-readers.
  6. B&N will steal market share from Amazon and Sony.
  7. E-book content sales will top $500 million in the U.S.
  8. E-textbooks will become more accessible, but sales will be modest.
  9. Magazine and newspaper publishers will launch their own apps and devices.
  10. China, India, Brazil, and the EU will propel global growth, but the U.S. will still be the biggest market.

The full article has much more text behind each of the ten predictions above.  Check it out “Ten Predictions For The E-Reader/E-Book Market In 2010

Accenture on Enterprise Cloud Computing

Accenture has been relatively quiet the last 12 months on the subject of Cloud Computing….there's been relatively little from them on this important disruptive trend.   Searching their website, you really can't find much on the topic.  However, I see they have just published a brief on the topic titled  What the Enterprise Needs To Know About Cloud Computing .  The report is fairly basic, providing an overview of the trends, key drivers and inhibitors, along with some recommendations to CIOs. 

Here are some takeaways from the Accenture brief:

  • Accenture's definition of Cloud computing:  "the dynamic provisioning of IT capabilities (hardware, software or services) from third parties over a network"
  • Five Adoption Drivers: 
    1. Maturation of the Internet as an IT platform
    2. Virtualization
    3. Hardware commoditization
    4. Standardization
    5. Open source software
  • Five Obstacles
    1. Security in a shared third-party environment
    2. Data location, compliance and integration issues
    3. Lack of Service-level guarantees
    4. Legacy systems not tied in yet
    5. Procurement not ready for cloud computing
  • Three Steps CIOs should take:
    1. Use the cloud for the right jobs. Accenture recommends public clouds like Amazon EC2 as an inexpensive and flexible alternative.  It says it EC2 and those like it are mature enough for non-business-critical projects including research and development and software development and testing.  Accenture also says that the EC2 and like public clouds are also well suited for computation-intensive jobs such as data cleansing, data mining, risk modeling, optimization and simulation.
    2. Target the right users for cloud applications. Accenture says to switch some workers to lower-cost, cloud-based solutions based on the type of work they do.  It says to consider contact centers and offshore locations.
    3. Take small steps toward an internal cloud.  Accenture says that CIOs should continue to focus on virtualization and datacenter consolidation initiatives and that these initiatives will eventually lead to internal cloud.

For the full brief, download What the Enterprise Needs To Know About Cloud Computing  

My take is that in 2009 we will see increased focus on private enterprise clouds.  This is a perfect time for IT departments to experiment with the cloud service delivery model.  The eventual end of the financial crisis and recession could be a significant lever in the adoption of Cloud Computing.   One of the major benefits of cloud is the agility it offers.  Application development and system provisioning can happen much faster with a cloud infrastructure, allowing business to deploy new capability faster than ever before.  As the recession ends and growth picks up, the companies with the fastest response to the reappearance of market opportunities will be the ones to benefit most—and they are likely to be the ones that are already experienced in deploying and exploiting Cloud solutions.