Cloud computing is essentially about paying for what you need in terms of IT services and getting it when you want it. In principle start-up companies can get off the ground, and major organisations reorient their infrastructure, in days - as they don’t need onerous capital investment for IT infrastructure.
It naturally follows that working practices are also going to change. We can already see this within IT departments where job roles are changing. For example, cloud specialist, cloud architect and cloud alliance manager are job functions that are becoming increasingly commonplace. Implicit within these new IT opportunities is usually the need to be able to work closely with the business.
This tells you that the cloud is accelerating changes in the way we work. For example, cloud computing is driving changes in flexible working. A case in point is business start-ups which are not constrained by fixed infrastructure. They can access the compute resources they need on the move and as easily as if they were in the office.
Cloud-driven practices are already gaining a foothold in the workplace because they offer a compelling number of benefits for both employees and employers. Employees can more easily balance work and home-life responsibilities, and for employers it widens the recruitment pool – location is no longer a primary issue.
As cloud technologies become progressively commonplace, flexible, remote and collaborative working will become more and more popular. This has some interesting implications that could gradually revolutionise the way we work. Patterns of working today are radically different from how our parents worked thanks largely to technology. And I expect this change to be accelerated even further by the cloud.
I’m aware that such concepts as the paperless office and total remote working have been around for a while and in some senses they have failed to live up to their billing. But remote working today is certainly common for many people, and even though in practice it might consist of one or two days out of the office rather than being a complete way of working, its prevalence will increase in the near future.
Some have asked me whether remote working will usher in an era of ‘dumb’ or thin clients – negating the need for intelligent devices to access information. I think the reality is instead that we’re seeing increasingly ‘smart’ devices – be they smartphones, media tablets or laptops – accessing and creating content on the move. The need for intelligent processing is increasing just as much as the need for mobility – and today more than ever the two are progressing hand-in-hand.
The fact that mobile computing is still evolving at a ferocious pace, to my mind, means that we’re well positioned to empower workers to exploit the benefits of the cloud. In so doing they’ll be helping shape a really dynamic new workplace – which encompasses the living room as much as the office.