Saturday, October 16, 2010

Is cloud just hype or is it here to stay?

Just this week I was asked by my team for input on five questions. In this post, I’ve written-up my answer to the first.

1) Is cloud just hype or is it here to stay?

There’s no doubt that cloud is here to stay. Major enterprises have put down serious investments in this space including my own employer a major consulting firm who is making significant investment of time and skills in the cloud.

It is easy to see why people feel that Cloud might be all hype. Since the initial simple web-based CRM offering from SFDC announced at the start of the last decade, the promised dream of cloud computing has been well publicised while real offerings were pretty scarce. There’s no wonder that many people taking a look at the offerings back then, may have concluded that there was a lot of talk and not much “behind the curtains”. While a lot has been written about cloud computing over the past years, it is only now that the model is really providing enterprise-level alternatives to businesses. There have been some significant developments in 2010 that lead me to conclude that options are now real enough to prompt all enterprises to take a look. The Google Atmosphere event that took place in April this year is a case in point. Around 300 business executives (many of those CIOs) assembled at the Googleplex to hear leaders in the IT industry share real examples of enterprise adoption of cloud solutions. And recently at
Oracle OpenWorld, Larry Ellison announced the certification of Oracle products on Amazon EC2. With serious moves from big players like this, it is clear that cloud is here to stay.

However, while I am a firm believer that the cloud model will provide opportunities to make business improvements and potentially cut costs, I believe there is also noise in the market. The cloud does not provide a silver bullet and is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Architecture teams should meet the marketing machines of some cloud vendors with a healthy dose of skepticism and do the usual ground-work in order to carefully map out where to begin including cloud computing in their landscapes. With some work, they will avoid the landmines and find the projects that deliver benefits in the specific context of their organizations.

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