|By Wolfram Jost||
|April 2, 2012 05:45 AM EDT||
Cloud computing is the hottest topic in IT. Gartner ranks cloud in the #1 spot of its list of top 10 strategic technology topics. It is the overriding theme at most industry conferences this year. Projections of cloud revenue growth rates in the high double digits further underscore the relevance of the topic.
Yet today’s discussions of cloud computing only hint at its full potential. Like the early days of e-business and the introduction of SOA, cloud is in its infancy, with its promise still to be fully realized. Advocates of cloud are limiting their focus to tactical cost benefits and efficiency gains on the IT infrastructure side, but the real benefit of cloud computing will be realized within the context of future developments that will shape the course of IT. When combined with these developments, cloud computing will become part of an innovation that changes everyday life.
A Platform for Collaboration
Cloud computing will become the foundation for new forms of collaboration and cooperation within a company that break down barriers that separate individual departments, isolate specialist areas and IT organizations, and divide companies from customers and business partners. By breaking down these barriers, more people, more expertise and more business information will be brought together to create more dynamic and effective organizations.
The dynamic expansion of cooperation and collaboration, supported by the concept of cloud computing, will be driven by business needs and by changes within business organizations. This pattern of expansion has been true for every transformative IT development in recent history.
For instance, the replacement of the mainframe by the client/server model as the dominant computer architecture in the 1980s can be traced back to management's desire to establish a divisional or department-oriented organizational structure. The success of the internet/web as a communication infrastructure for businesses was directly related to the division of work in a globalized economy. By contrast, the relatively slower adoption of SOA in the years immediately after its introduction demonstrates that even excellent technical ideas fail to achieve a (rapid) breakthrough if the corresponding business driver is missing.
Cloud computing offers that business driver by advancing the goals of cooperation and collaboration within a cost-effective and easily scalable model. Within businesses worldwide, the expansion of forms of cooperation and collaboration is already taking place. Gartner calls this phenomenon and its further evolution “extreme collaboration.”
In turn, this expansion has been triggered by changes taking the consumer segment by storm. The expansion of cloud computing to power collaboration in the consumer market is closely linked with names like Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Google, Apple and Amazon. With names synonymous with technological progress and innovation, these companies are successfully demonstrating what cloud computing can do—even if they rarely use the term “cloud” themselves.
These companies are proving every day—in an extremely difficult and demanding consumer market environment—that the use of IT does not have to be subject to any location or time constraints. All that is needed to access an impressive array of services and communication applications are web capability and internet access. Nearly endless IT resources in the provider's data center are ready to switch on and off automatically as needed. Highly efficient virtualization concepts for separating technical levels and workload processes, combined with a modular, expandable data center design that is based on standardized system blocks, establish the necessary conditions to deliver communication and collaboration capabilities to users across the globe.
These businesses and smaller service platforms such as Foursquare, emphasize the benefits of active user participation in various ways. They bring like-minded people together (social networking through Facebook), support working together (social collaboration through wikis and blogs), guarantee standardized access to information (social publishing with Flickr, YouTube and slideshare.com) and generate feedback (social feedback with Amazon). All the examples mentioned above have two things in common. First, they focus on users and their needs and are streamlined for communication and collaboration. Second, they establish a comfortable user environment with the cloud computing operational model. Where and how the infrastructure to support this model exists, let alone IT infrastructure scalability issues, are not a concern for customers.
Cloud Use in Business: Tactics and Beyond
Cloud services increasingly are being offered for companies at different levels—from server and storage, to applications such as e-mail or office programs, even to specialized applications. Instead of operating their own data centers, businesses can consume and pay for services as needed. Growth rates in the high double digits document the interest in this option. Cloud revenues in the enterprise sector are expected to quadruple to about $11.4 billion by 2015.
The consumption of cloud services promises greater flexibility in the face of changing needs compared to investing a company's own resources in planning, implementing and operating technology themselves. Anyone who has seen the reaction of a CIO when told that more than 200 additional users need to access an application or server will understand the more tactical business drivers for cloud. Although cloud services provide an easy and cost-effective way to scale quickly and gain additional resources, CIOs are significantly missing out on the true potential of cloud computing if they limit their perspective to this use. Separating access to IT resources from their physical location enables companies to finally cash in on the promise to focus on and involve the user by supporting new and innovative forms of collaboration.
Apple established a cloud-based ecosystem around its iPhone business. The company itself provides an excellent end-user device and an appealing marketing and payment platform through which the consumer can access applications for the iPhone. Apple then allows application developers to share in the success without having to deal with the nuisance of running an online shop organizing payment transactions. Apple supports these activities through its online App Store and iTunes platforms—and makes money in the process.
Sometimes a company's own customers encourage it to open up to “crowdsourcing,” a term coined by Jeff Howe about five years ago and seen in the case of Lego, the world’s fourth- largest toy manufacturer. The Danish company approaches its customers openly through its “Mindstorms” project, where every interested Lego fan has access to a variety of design tools, message boards and other features to create their own models, publish model designs in the Lego community and develop them further as a group. Awards are given to the best domestic, exotic, most creative, and most interactive toys.
The Mindstorms project is considered a blueprint for successful customer participation. Throughout the business world, numerous open-source projects are also proof that groups can organize their work on products online, independent of location and time. In its simplest form, a growing number of companies are inviting their customers to "friend" them—to use popular social networking jargon—to share their ideas, opinions and wishes.
Strategy and Opportunity
Economists like to place the concept of social computing and crowdsourcing in the context of theories presented by British economist and Nobel Prize winner Ronald Harry Coase in "The Nature of a Firm." In the end, business decisions revolve around the following question: Under which conditions should a company invest its own effort or outsource it to a third party? The internet has significantly reduced the cost of collaboration, and the cost of coordination and communication. The operational model of cloud computing further reduces this initial hurdle because of the easy and flexible way companies can access IT services independent of location or time.
In principle, bringing together the cloud and crowd opens up excellent opportunities to more effectively divide up complex tasks and projects into smaller segments, work on them independently, and then merge them back together again. According to the Gartner list mentioned above, social communication and collaboration—along with cloud computing and mobile applications/media tablets —round out the three most important strategic technologies to watch in 2011. Gartner predicts that the majority of enterprise applications will have integrated social computing technologies by 2016. At a conference on developments in enterprise customer relationship management, Gartner analyst Adam Sarner even put forward the theory that these activities are taking the internet back to its original idea of user collaboration and participation.
But opportunities exist in more than just improved business results, as some theorists have proposed. They can also be found in the area of intra-organizational information and communication processes. Potential areas of application for new types of cooperation can be quickly identified in every layer and operational level of a business.
For instance, in a manufacturing firm, sharing among product and process experts, department heads, customers and partners in the planning process establishes an excellent basis for addressing customer needs with product improvements. It also accelerates product development and delivery. Equipping staff with mobile end devices guarantees that coordination and decision-making happen in real time. This real-time management enables smooth transitions by allowing anyone to enter or quit the interaction at any time. A variety of internal and external participants work together, without organizational or geographic barriers, to introduce operational improvements and process optimizations to the service portfolio. Instead of having to spend precious time requesting information from individual departments within a company or compiling results, they are simply "there."
The result: The company saves time and money, delivers better products and ultimately strengthens its competitive power. For this reason, it is in a CIO’s best interests to adapt social computing technologies and extreme collaboration applications to IT-supported processes.
Cloud Cautions: the Crippling Effect of "Standard"
The goal of gaining greater agility and flexibility in IT is not fundamentally new, and helping companies achieve that goal has been the promise of many technology developments preceding cloud. Companies should apply the lessons learned from prior technology initiatives in their exploration of cloud computing.
In the past, many technically-motivated IT concepts have failed to reach their full potential on the application side (supply chain management, customer relationship management, and lean production) or on the program level (SOA) when faced with the reality of a traditional application approach. One reason for this failure is that when searching for the most comprehensive support for business processes, the majority of companies decided establish a long-term partnership with a provider of enterprise resource planning systems, such as SAP or Oracle. Because of the process support they provide along every service and value chain, standard systems promise maximum efficiency when compared with a combination of specialized solutions from different providers. Application function and process management are firmly interwoven.
But companies pay for the advantage of a high level of integration with a loss of flexibility, which is a prerequisite for the dynamic agility expected in today's business world. Without flexibility, with every process change businesses are obligated to spend time and money on customization projects with IT specialists realigning segments of the standard software. The diversity and breadth of the standard software market in all its various categories are ultimately expressions of the inherent contradiction between standard and flexibility.
Today, the market clearly favors agility and speed over standard systems and integration. Businesses need an open platform to counter the crippling effects of rigid application systems once and for all, and to lay the groundwork for agile forms of working and the organization of processes. The starting points for such a platform are, first, a consistent separation of process design and management from the content of standard business software. Second, this platform must include the concepts of social media/crowd computing for designing and managing company processes.
Cloud Computing Complements Business Process Management
Cloud computing is also a natural complement to business process management (BPM). Collaboration is essential for the modern goals of BPM, which requires cooperation across the enterprise. To achieve this collaboration and cooperation, a process and integration platform is needed that follows the entire lifecycle—all the way from modeling a process to executing it within a software runtime—of a business process with a uniform architecture philosophy and a semantic metadata model. Only then can an organization bridge the existing gap of understanding between business and technical IT around BPM. With the collaborative approach of model-to-execute, business process models created by process designers can be transferred into executable services in the IT and application landscapes with a high degree of automation. Changes made by any stakeholder are immediately transparent at every work level. The integration of performance data from technical monitoring with key business process indicators creates the basis for collaborative dashboarding to enable ad hoc and joint decision-making when facing new market challenges or disruptions.
Along with a common understanding at the content level, having access without constraints to business processes and tool environments is beneficial for realistic collaboration scenarios. This is where the cloud computing model comes into play. Similar to social media platforms, users can invite each other to collaborate on BPM-related projects on short notice, regardless of their location. A web front end is all that is needed to share process knowledge and models, compare them and develop them further as a community.
Using cloud computing to simplify the collaboration between process stakeholders is a key success factor for improving flexibility and quickly adapting business processes to address constantly changing market conditions. A business process can be modeled, prototyped and tested quite easily in the cloud. Whether the services and applications are run in the cloud later or on a traditional in-house system is irrelevant. Without a doubt, businesses have greater access to specialized application services through the cloud computing model. Therefore, all data and services will need to be incorporated transparently in a complete process design from the operational side—independent of location and origin.
The combination of BPM, collaboration and cloud will inevitably lead to a radical change in how businesses deal with standard software—a change that is even anticipated to surpass the switch from mainframe/host-based solutions to the client/server model. Instead of a centralized purchase of complete solutions, the customization of process logic for businesses will be managed outside application functions.
Providers of standard software must attempt to loosen the deep integration of their software and offer more small-scale application content. Only then will application providers open up the full potential of cloud computing. Unfortunately, by dominating the current discussion with technical concerns, some software companies are successfully distracting from the actual requirements context. Transferring a traditional ERP model into a cloud deployment might help increase efficiency in that regard, but that doesn't resolve the fundamental contradiction between standard software and process flexibility – it just hides it behind a cloud.
Ultimately, the value of cloud is far greater than a tactical focus on technology and operating costs. When utilized to collaborate on process design and other essential business tasks, cloud computing will be a source that powers the transformation to becoming a fully digital enterprise.
|christianverstraete 02/13/12 10:29:00 AM EST|
Cloud has many aspects of which you addressed some. I like your approach to go beyond just the replacement of your datacenter as this is truly what I also advocate. I'm currently running a series on the business aspects of cloud here . There I also discuss how and where to take your applications as this is a question I often receive from customers.
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Mar. 29, 2015 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,805
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborat...
Mar. 29, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,223
WSM International is launching a DevOps services division that offers assessment, consulting and implementation to large enterprises and organizations with complex infrastructures. This is the first independent services company to create a dedicated practice to help organizations looking to transition to the DevOps model. The concept of DevOps is to blend information technology (IT) software development with operations to optimize the computing infrastructure according to the specific needs of ...
Mar. 29, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,534
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
Mar. 29, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,484
The WebRTC Summit 2014 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
Mar. 29, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,594
Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things...
Mar. 29, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,849
Hosted PaaS providers have given independent developers and startups huge advantages in efficiency and reduced time-to-market over their more process-bound counterparts in enterprises. Software frameworks are now available that allow enterprise IT departments to provide these same advantages for developers in their own organization. In his workshop session at DevOps Summit, Troy Topnik, ActiveState’s Technical Product Manager, will show how on-prem or cloud-hosted Private PaaS can enable organ...
Mar. 29, 2015 05:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,246
DevOps tasked with driving success in the cloud need a solution to efficiently leverage multiple clouds while avoiding cloud lock-in. Flexiant today announces the commercial availability of Flexiant Concerto. With Flexiant Concerto, DevOps have cloud freedom to automate the build, deployment and operations of applications consistently across multiple clouds. Concerto is available through four disruptive pricing models aimed to deliver multi-cloud at a price point everyone can afford.
Mar. 29, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 944
Today, IT is not just a cost center. IT is an enabler and driver of business. With the emergence of the hybrid cloud paradigm, IT now has increasingly more capabilities to create new strategic opportunities for a business. Hybrid cloud allows an organization to utilize multi-tenant public clouds, dedicated private clouds, bare metal hosting, and the associated support and services for the right use cases through an on-demand, XaaS model. This model of IT creates tremendous opportunities for busi...
Mar. 29, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,158
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a “Make or Buy” decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud busi...
Mar. 29, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,409
Docker is an excellent platform for organizations interested in running microservices. It offers portability and consistency between development and production environments, quick provisioning times, and a simple way to isolate services. In his session at DevOps Summit at 16th Cloud Expo, Shannon Williams, co-founder of Rancher Labs, will walk through these and other benefits of using Docker to run microservices, and provide an overview of RancherOS, a minimalist distribution of Linux designed...
Mar. 29, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,437
Businesses are looking to empower employees and departments to do more, go faster, and streamline their processes. For all workers – but mobile workers especially – utilizing the cloud to reconnect documents and improve processes without destructing existing workflows can have a dramatic impact on productivity. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Mark Grilli, vice president of Acrobat Solutions marketing at Adobe Systems Incorporated, will outline new ways that the cloud is changing the way peo...
Mar. 29, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,330
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes ...
Mar. 29, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,171
Are your applications getting in the way of your business strategy? It’s time to rethink your IT approach. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Madhukar Kumar, Vice President, Product Management at Liaison Technologies, will discuss a new data-centric approach to IT that allows your data, not applications, to inform business strategy. By moving away from an application-centric IT model where data integration and analysis are subservient to the constraints of applications, your organization will b...
Mar. 29, 2015 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,561
WSM International has launched a DevOps services division that offers assessment, consulting and implementation to large enterprises and organizations with complex infrastructures. The concept of DevOps is to blend information technology (IT) software development with operations to optimize the computing infrastructure according to the specific needs of the organization. According to a recent press release from Gartner, "By 2016, DevOps will evolve from a niche strategy employed by large cloud ...
Mar. 29, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,301
SYS-CON Events announced today that QTS Realty Trust, one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing providers of data center facilities and cloud services and a leader in security and compliance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. QTS Realty Trust, Inc. (NYSE: QTS) is a leading national provider of data center solutions and fully managed services, and a leader in security and compliance...
Mar. 29, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,277
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional S...
Mar. 29, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,852
SYS-CON Events announced today that WSM International (WSM), the world’s leading cloud and server migration services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. WSM is a solutions integrator with a core focus on cloud and server migration, transformation and DevOps services.
Mar. 29, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,276
SYS-CON Events announced today that Liaison Technologies, a leading provider of data management and integration cloud services and solutions, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Liaison Technologies is a recognized market leader in providing cloud-enabled data integration and data management solutions to break down complex information barriers, enabling enterprises to make sm...
Mar. 29, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,458
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY., and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides private all-in-one social intranets allowing workers to securely collaborate from anywhere in the world and from any device. Social, mobile, and eas...
Mar. 29, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,044