Cloud Computing and the Fall of the IT Empire

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We are in the middle of an explosive revolution in Cloud Computing. Cloud isn’t just a buzzword being used by IT product vendors and Integrators to sell different flavors of the same wares and services, but now is a reality -- a word that everyone knows and speaks.

According to Google Trends, the fifth most popular search phrase involving Cloud Computing is “cloud computing ppt”. In other words, people have been actively attempting to evangelize cloud using other people’s PowerPoints since the beginning of the “Cloud era” of IT:

Perhaps an indicator of acceptance, Google Trends reports that cloud presentations are being plagiarized less over the past year or so, a sign that we may be past all the tedious, repetitive hype and we’ve gotten to a stage where regurgitation is less necessary. Yet, even still, we see the same presentation over and over again. How many times have we seen the old stand-by Gartner slide forecasting our current $76.9 billion cloud market will be a $222.4 billion market by the end of 2015?

Scary isn’t it? This forecast for explosive growth combined with reckless over-selling of the capabilities of a technology meme can make many of us reminiscent about the dotcom era—or fearful of it. Rest assured, most investment firms have learned some valuable lessons from that time period. Venture Capital firms were backing interesting concepts rather than viable business models and individuals who could execute. The “don’t bet the horse, bet the jockey” approach is a good first-line defense against the foolhardy investment practices of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Don’t worry, the Cloud bubble isn’t going to burst because it is not a bubble—it is a paradigm shift to a new set of rules. The question is not, “Will my company embrace Cloud Computing?” the question is, “How have we already done this, and what is next?” Cloud Strategy is IT Strategy. In some way or another, you are already on the Cloud and it’s only going to get better, depending on your perspective, that is.

Cloud Migration requires readiness, motivation, and acceptance. Your business is already excited about this emerging trend. Unfortunately, many in your IT department are resisting this change, or they are poking holes in its effectiveness as the eventual reality. Cloud Strategies can help businesses achieve Strategic Agility, Risk Optimization, and Cost Optimization. Agility and Risk are typically the main drivers for those seeking the Cloud as a solution, rather than simply an alternative.

Cloud Computing has given us a myriad of new and exciting services and methods for streamlining business processes while moving away from capex (capital expenditures) to opex (operational expenditures) with the pay-as-you-go model.  Some areas of interest:

  • SaaS (Software) – Possibly the most well-known cloud service delivery model. The experts build the systems, you pay a monthly fee to use them.
  • IaaS (Infrastructure) – Your servers and storage, in the Cloud.
  • iPaaS (Integration Platform) – being on the Cloud is wonderful, but if you have on-premise systems and 17 others hosted in various public clouds or with the SaaS providers, you may not want to enter the same information numerous times. Platforms and service companies will help your systems communicate with each other and remain in-synch.
  • Ins-aaS (Insurance) – Yes, even policy administration can become a subscription based solution. NTT DATA is one of the leading companies that have invested in developing these types of solutions.
  • DaaS (Desktop) – one of my favorites. Your Desktop in the Cloud. A return to the old days with centralized applications and processing power. Your device was merely a thin client with not a lot of internal horsepower. Think of how long these batteries will last. Cool, huh? Now think about Bob, the developer, working on some complex data transformation jobs or doing multi-threaded programming and testing. This is when extra RAM and CPU cores will come in handy. What about the other phase in the project where he’s updating documentation, or reviewing requirements? Automatic scaling. Pay for what you use.
  • And so on

No more are companies forced to build up data centers, employing legions of IT infrastructure experts, to take on vast amounts of inventory just to get going. These soldiers of IT are no longer needed to continuously maintain the operation and “keep the lights on,” expanding pathways, locking down ports, securing the network, staring down refresh cycles, and putting out fires with duct tape. IaaS eliminates the need for many of these folks. DaaS and the emerging trend of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) that many organizations are beginning to embrace is causing much anxiety for IT Departments everywhere, and for good reason. They are watching their jobs become commoditized. Mark McDonald of Gartner wrote in 2009 (when the industry was less than half the market it commands today) a very telling blog article titled, “Forget about commoditization–the real enemy is choice.” I believe that says it all! Bringing in your own device, having options to solve infrastructure, platform, software, and even desktop services is giving “Rogue IT” the ability to drive their business forward and take no prisoners, with or without the support of the erstwhile IT monopoly on value-generating technology services.

Have you ever worked in an organization where IT pleads with the business and product/engineering teams to, “slow down”? This is an all-too common occurrence in growing companies. IT is unable to meet with the evolving demands of new business and they either shackle your growth and innovation, or they actively block it. Are you a PC or a Mac? The correct answer is, “If you get the job done, I don’t care if you’re a Game Boy®!”

We are now living in a new era: the era where large enterprises are joining the masses into the Cloud frontier. Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and other Professional Services firms are where IT Operations will remain. Having internal IT Operations solving the same problem thousands of companies have already solved every day does not make sense anymore. Companies aren’t generating their own electricity, and most companies are not even managing their own payroll. We employ services. IT is a service. A commodity. Tell your friends. It’s coming, and unless they consider their Cloud Strategy (aka IT Strategy), they will be left behind.

- CJ Kadakia, Director, Cloud Advisory Services – Applications Strategist

Post Date: 10/11/2013

CJ Kadakia, NTT DATA Services CJ Kadakia

About the author

CJ is a Senior Strategist and Management Consultant for Advisory Services practice with NTT DATA, with a focus on application landscapes, innovation, product development, and management principles. CJ represents NTT DATA’s Cloud Consulting Practice at trade shows, sales pursuits, and builds partnerships with strategic vendors to leverage technology and expertise for strategic engagements.