By Mark Skilton I recently looked back at some significant papers that had influenced my thinking on cloud computing as part of a review on current strategic trends. In February 2009, a paper published at the University of California, Berkeley, “Above the Clouds: A Berkeley View of Cloud Computing," stands out as the first of many papers to drive out the issues around the promise of cloud computing and technology barriers to achieving secure elastic service.
The key issue unfolding at that time was the transfer of risk that resulted from moving to a cloud environment and the obstacles to security, performance and licensing that would need to evolve. But the genie was out of the bottle, as successful early adopters could see cost savings and rapid one-to-many monetization benefits of on-demand services. [Disclosure: The Open Group is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
A second key moment was the realization that the exchange of services was no longer a simple request and response. Social networks had demonstrated huge communities of collaboration and online “personas” changing individual and business network interactions, but something else had happened -- less obvious but more profound.
This change was made most evident in the proliferation of mobile computing that greatly expanded the original on-premise move to off-premise services. A key paper by Intel Research titled “CloneCloud,” published around that same time period, exemplified this shift. Services could be cloned and moved into the cloud, demonstrating the possible new realities in redefining the real potential of how work gets done using cloud computing.
Remote services The key point was that storage or processing transactions, media streaming, or complex calculations no longer had to be executed within a physical device. It could be provided as a service from remote source, a virtual cloud service.
But more significant was the term “multiplicity” in this concept. We see this everyday as we download apps, stream video, and transact orders. The fact was that you could do not only a few, but multiple tasks, simultaneously and pick and choose the services and results.
This signaled a big shift away from the old style of thinking about business services that had us conditioned to think of service-oriented requests in static, tiered, rigid ways. Those business processes and services missed this new bigger picture. Just take a look at the phenomenon called "hyperlocal services" that offer location specific on-demand information or how crowd sourcing can dramatically transform purchasing choices and collaboration incentives.
Traditional ways of measuring, modeling and running business operations are under-utilizing this potential and under-valuing what can be possible in these new collaborative networks. The new multiplicity-based world of cloud-enabled networks means you can augment yourself and your company’s assets in ways that change the shape of your industry.
What is needed is a new language to describe how this shift feels and works, and how advances in your business portfolio can be realized with these modern ideas, often by examining current methods and standards of strategy visualization, metrics, and design to evolve a new expression of this potential.
Some two years have passed, and what has been achieved? Certainly we have seen the huge proliferation of services into a cloud hosting environment. Large strategic movements in private data centers seek to develop private cloud services, by bringing together social media and social networking through cloud technologies.
But what's needed now is a new connection between the potential of these technologies and the vision of the Internet, the growth of social graph associations, and the wider communities and ecosystems that are emerging in the movement’s wake.
With every new significant disruptive change, there is also the need for a new language to help describe this new world. Open standards and industry forums will help drive this. The old language focuses on the previous potential, and so a new way to visualize, define, and use the new realities can help the big shift toward the potential above the cloud.
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