Time to reveal cloud's silver upside

Time to reveal cloud's silver upside

Summary: Vendors should focus more on promoting the business benefits of cloud. We should not be spending all of our time on the defensive, letting objections about security, reliability and governance dominate the conversation.

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Too much of the discussion around cloud computing and SaaS is focussed on the technology and not enough emphasis is placed on the business results that can be achieved from going to the cloud. The tech industry repeatedly makes this mistake, allowing itself to get dragged into discussing the relative merits of different technology implementations while completely missing the bigger picture of why people are actually going to buy and implement the stuff.

Therefore I've set myself a new task of going out and evangelizing to business people why they should adopt cloud computing and services. It's not simply about cloud computing being faster, cheaper, better than conventional platforms. More than all of that, cloud computing, when it's done right, frees businesses to plug into all the rich resources of the global Web to connect and interact in real-time with their employees, partners and customers in ways that give them huge competitive advantages. You can hear me expanding on this message in this webinar recorded in August. At a follow-up event in London last week, I met some of the CIOs who are using the cloud to transform the way their businesses operate. Vendors and their PR teams please note: don't pitch me technology stories, tell me how customers are transforming their businesses by harnessing the cloud. There are more and more of these stories about, and they deserve to be heard.

We should not be spending all of our time being defensive about cloud, letting objections about security, reliability and governance dominate the conversation. These are important matters, but they can be answered and dealt with. Instead, let's promote the upside of cloud. It's more than a silver lining, it's a whole new dawn of unprecedented potential for business advantage, one that transforms an enterprise's internal operations and external opportunities.

If you're based in London, let me draw your attention to a couple more events where I believe the positive benefits for enterprises of adopting the cloud will shine through. This Wednesday 22 September, EuroCloud UK is having a member meeting to hear some enterprise end user perspectives on cloud. Then in October, the SIIA's OnDemand Europe conference comes to London — by the way, early bird pricing ends today. I'll be moderating panels on Selecting the Right Cloud Platform and on Integrating in the Cloud, and at the end of the SIIA event, attendees will be able to join a EuroCloud UK member meeting on Building Confidence in the Cloud.

If you're not in London, you can catch a flavor of my upbeat message on October 12, when I'll be presenting a session in the Focus online summit on Breaking Through Cloud Computing. The title of my session: How the Cloud Transforms IT From Villains into Heroes.

Topics: Virtualization, Cloud, Hardware, Servers

Phil Wainewright

About Phil Wainewright

Since 1998, Phil Wainewright has been a thought leader in cloud computing as a blogger, analyst and consultant.

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10 comments
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  • The Things you dismiss...

    @Phil Wainewright - You dismiss security, governance, and reliability by saying they are problems that can be delt with. That is true but they are not being addressed very well by the industry at large. Some vendors tackle some aspects but a clear business consumer centric solution has not surfaced.

    Also pretty much, what cloud computing means to people like myself in the USA is my job gets outsourced overseas. Great. There is a lot of talk about building data centers in the USA but let's face it, the first foreign country that gives a tax break or some type of financial consideration to data centers will win a huge windfall.

    As for savings on pricing, I predict it will follow the same pricing as all other outsourced products. There will be an initial savings and once local competition is put out of business and you don't have a choice but to go out of the country for data services, the price will be set to premium levels. The only things to prevent this are local competition which won't be able to compete on pricing unless the data centers get the same tax breaks or money incentives that foreign countries can deliver, which is kind of socialistic and all out government intervention, which is again socialistic.

    What I don't understand is why as a highly educated, highly qualified professional, I am expected to work for the same wages as someone overseas, when my landlord expects premium rent, my car dearship expects premium car prices, my health care is more expensive, just to pull some examples off the top of my head. Companies keep beating the same drum, "American's are expensive to employ." Well, why is it so expensive to live here then? Personally I am making rock bottom wages, just barely paying my bills, and less than 40 dollars a week in discretionary money to spend. O.K. I raced to the bottom, now that I am here, I still can't get down to what a person in Asia makes. Unless I "choose" to live in a cardboard box on the street.
    mr1972
  • So what you're saying basically, is...

    ...ignore that man behind the curtain!

    Security in the cloud sucks. It sucks now because of the ramshackle finish it yesterday mentality that pervades any web/cloud/internet company mindset.

    Security *is* a problem in the cloud, it's a hard problem, and it may not in fact be solvable to the degree it needs to be for these super-concentrations of data, which are so much more attractive to bad guys than the scattered highly secured data structures we have now.
    wolf_z
  • SaaS Producing Plenty of Measurable Benefits

    You are right on target again Phil, and your detractors are missing the point. SaaS, and Cloud Computing, are not just the latest over-hyped tech trends. They are experiencing explosive growth because they are producing tangible and measurable benefits. You can find plenty of examples by looking at the winners of THINKstrategies' Best of SaaS Showplace Awards, <a href="http://www.saas-showplace.com/bestofshowplaceawards.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.saas-showplace.com/bestofshowplaceawards.html</a>.
    jkaplan@...
  • Its not simply about cloud computing being faster, cheaper and better

    I think your point that it is about more than cost and efficiency, its about new ways of doing business in an interconnected world, is very valid and often overlooked.<br><br>In our world, companies are using the cloud to break down barriers that separate departments which - still after all these years - don't effectively share data with each other. Apart from our revolutionary approach to accounting apps, companies select FinancialForce.com because of the strong integration with their salesforce Sales Cloud (CRM) and Service Cloud .<br><br>There's a clear benefit of connecting your front office to give you competitive advantage. Cloud accounting gives you the ability to do that to your back office, so every transaction becomes integral to the business instead of locked in the back-room. Accounting transactions have real business meaning rather than debits and credits that the accountants deal with.<br><br>Then you're interacting more and more effectively with your customers, suppliers etc. That leads to more discussions around business impact, i.e. "What else can we do that we haven't been able to do before?" "How can we change the way our teams sell or we offer our products?" <br><br>It helps functional teams -- more far flung than ever -- identify the need to adapt and then to support them in change. This is ever more important as the pace of business change accelerates. <br><br>I'd put up the example of one of our customers, Life Champions. They are a specialist membership management organization working on behalf of local and international charities and not-for-profit membership organizations. We'll be announcing tomorrow that<br>they have implemented FinancialForce Accounting to support a mobile<br>membership sales initiative. Field agents will be equipped with iPads and will record new opportunities directly in salesforce CRM. So they will have front office out on the street, connected to the back-office with data being shared between the disciplines. Accountants and sales people seeing and acting on the same information about sales and customers.<br><br>Just a final point in response to mr1972 on security. Responsible suppliers of cloud applications have better security than most individual businesses could ever afford to implement for themselves. That's firstly because we understand the critical importance of protecting our customers and their data - remember our business relies for its success on our ability to do that. Secondly, because one of the advantages for both vendors and customers is that the investment in world class security is spread out across all the customers, rather than being borne by each customer (as it is when apps are deployed on premises or hosted on an individual basis). This is just one example of the many economies of scale a real cloud application brings.
    JBR666
    • God help your developers, then!

      @rochej
      If the company whizz-kids and Sales people and Execs are just making up a constantly changing, unstructured stream of vague new ideas they'd like to try, then the developers are going to be trying to nail jelly to the ceiling. Cloud sounds like a recipe for a complete mess.
      peter_erskine@...
      • RE: Time to reveal cloud's silver upside

        @peter_erskine@...
        In fact the opposite is true. Organisation typically face people making things up as you describe when:

        1. Your systems are outdated and not kept up to date often enough, so they are not agile and flexible. Then people resort to masses of spreadsheets or departments go and install random non-strategic applications. The future of the IT function will be much more about supporting change than inhibiting it because systems are inflexible.

        2. You have not focussed on having connected systems and processes that span the business. So accountants are unhappy that the sales guys keep signing deals they cant easily account for. The sales guys see the accountants as the 'sales prevention department'. Try bringing them together, having well designed processes and allow them to collaborate together on sales opportunities and customers.

        What we see in the Cloud space is that IT/development moves to be an advisor in the business. Instead of having to 'nail jelly' they are working with the business departments to deliver the systems they need at a speed that the business wants, not sitting in a darkened corner trying to interpret the spec someone wrote for them in another department. This leads to a far more stimulating and productive environment for IT people too. Ask some of the developers and IT people who are now experienced in the Cloud space - there is a rapidly growing army of them enjoying the opportunity.
        JBR666
  • Cloud is failing to get a consensus.

    From what I read, in the USA the concept is about 10x more accepted than it is in Europe, yet you're suggesting that it just isn't catching on. I suppose until a good few organisations have done cloud, and start to outperform those that haven't got it, there isn't going to be an incentive to take on the perceived risks and cost.
    Will enough organisations just do it because its a fashion, or must it prove itself (as I suspect)?
    peter_erskine@...
    • RE; Cloud is failing to get a consensus.

      @peter_erskine@... Rather than suggesting that cloud isn't catching on, I'm arguing that it is. But vendors are appearing defensive because they talk about the technologies rather than their customer successes.

      The truth is a good few organisations *have* already done cloud, they *are* outperforming those that haven't got it, and those stories are not being heard and promoted loudly enough.
      phil wainewright
  • Cloud, SaaS, and Web ... which gets the credit?

    We have difficulty separating the benefits our clients achieve from cloud, SaaS, and web technology.

    Some of our customers (Quantum, Pool Source) utilize SaaS to get big business IT without the upfront expense. These customers achieved feature rich distribution software without the hassle of installing and managing IT infrastructure. Most importantly, during the implementation process, our value added resellers (VARs) were able to collaborate and make changes to their ERP deployments without being on premise. This saved countless travel hours and expenses.

    The cloud (Windows Azure) made it possible for us (Acumatica) to offer SaaS to our clients. So which gets credit for this ... the Cloud or SaaS?

    Other Acumatica customers benefit by using web techology to run several subsidiaries from one central location without complex client software or remote access software. These folks have access to servers and people to run them, so they elected to run internal clouds. So which gets credit for this ... the Cloud or web-based?
    Web Cloud
  • RE: Time to reveal cloud's silver upside

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