Welcome!

API Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Mik Kersten, Liz McMillan, SmartBear Blog, Greg O'Connor

Blog Feed Post

Cloud for Business

Earlier this month the Times ran its regular "Cloud for Business" insert, in which I was asked to write a column on "Cloud for Digital Business" (see full text here). For reference I included below the piece on "The future of Cloud Computing" that it ran in an earlier edition. An item called:

Cloud Spotting is the Shape of Things to Come.
When asked to write a column with an ambitious title like “The future of the cloud”, it is a good idea to look first at where cloud is at the moment and to realise that it is still very early days. Today, of the $2.7 trillion that global business spends annually on IT, just 4.8 per cent is spent on cloud computing.

The cloud’s penetration of the world of business is considerably less than its penetration of our daily lives. As consumers we get most of our news, information and increasingly entertainment through cloud services. In fact, the consumer industry has become the major driver of IT innovation. Many years ago, IT innovation was largely driven by defence spending, later by space exploration and then, for many years, the best place to see new innovative products in action, such as colour laptops, projectors and colour printers, was inside the offices of large enterprises.

How different things are now. The largest screens with the highest resolutions, the fastest network connections, “premium” tablets and the best connected mobiles are probably the ones you use at home. Even in large data centres, innovation is now largely driven by consumer-oriented organisations, such as Facebook, with its open computer server design initiative or Google with its MapReduce approach to making sense of very large sets of information. Many enterprises are still getting used to the idea that they are no longer in the driving seat. Where in the past they typically expected vendors to come running to deliver exactly what they asked for, they now need to figure out how standard offerings based on consumer-facing innovations can be used inside their business.

The cloud is not the only consumer-driven innovation businesses need to make sense of. It is joined by a nexus of new digital forces, including the social, mobile and information, or big data, forces. These offer truly new capabilities when combined. For example, businesses can now connect more directly with their customers using social and mobile technology. This provides huge amounts of customer information that can be analysed to enable businesses to communicate in a more relevant and useful way – a change facilitated by the use of software and IT infrastructure in the cloud.

Another element shaping the future of the cloud is the increasing importance of sharing content and knowledge across organisations. The value of using cloud services, such as Google Maps and LinkedIn, comes from sharing more information (on roads, traffic, people, skills) than individual companies could ever hope to collect or keep up to date in their own internal systems. For many years businesses sought efficiencies and gained competitive advantage by integrating and co-ordinating their internal processes better. Now we see increasingly that, driven by big data, future efficiencies lie in optimising processes across multiple organisations. This leads to “social collaboration networks” between businesses, similar to what a cloud application like Facebook did for individuals.

However, by saying that the cloud is especially valuable for doing things that were not possible before, or at least not practicable or affordable, we make predicting the future of the cloud a lot harder. Ironically, uncertainty about the future is also one of the main reasons for using the cloud. When a business is uncertain whether one thousand or one million customers will watch its latest webcast or play its latest game, the elasticity of the cloud makes it an ideal platform because a business can rapidly scale up its IT capacity to meet its needs at the time and then scale it back when it is no longer required.

Similarly, when organisations are uncertain whether a new software implementation will be a tremendous success (leading to all divisions in all countries using the whole platform on a daily basis) or a modest failure (leading to a few divisions using some parts of the software in a couple of countries), it is better not to invest up-front but to “pay as you go”. An example of a company using this is game provider Zynga, which uses cloud computing extensively when launching new games, but then brings established games back in-house when many of the uncertainties about usage and capacity requirements have been resolved. It is this agility, the ability to “turn on a sixpence”, not cost-savings, that is the main driver for the cloud's use by businesses today and it is likely to remain an important driver in future.

Using the cloud should not be a goal in itself: it should be a means of achieving specific benefits. As a result, business cloud strategies, today and in the future, must be driven by higher-level objectives, such as reducing lead times or improving customer experience by delivering core services through the cloud. Cloud adoption should not be driven by artificial IT metrics, such as aiming to have a certain percentage of applications running in the cloud by 2015. Selecting projects potentially suitable for the cloud is a question of weighing the benefits against the risks. If the risks of using the cloud are very high and the benefits relatively low – for instance, when migrating stable and predictable yet crucial workloads that already run efficiently internally – it may be something to avoid.

Conversely, if benefits are high and risks low, as for example in big data modelling and analytics where tens of thousands of processors run for short periods to simulate or predict customer behaviour, using the cloud may be a “no-brainer”, allowing a business to pay only for what it needs, and to avoid overheads and maintenance during times when this capability is not required.

Risk, however, is not a constant. Just as Japanese manufacturers pursuing just-in-time and Lean manufacturing concepts refused to accept that the changeover time between products on a production line was a constant and so actively worked to reduce them, consumers and cloud providers should work on reducing the risks, both real and perceived, associated with cloud computing. There are many ways to do this.

Concerns about the security of information held in the cloud can be allayed by applying technologies, such as encryption or by agreeing to more transparency about the physical location in which data is stored. It is also important to realise that confidence in the cloud will grow naturally as users and providers gain more experience. Passengers of the first airlines needed to be quite brave as there was no track record that warranted trust in pilots and their equipment.

Trust increased as the industry learned from initial disasters and actively improved service – you can also expect to see both disasters and subsequent improvements with the cloud. Not all the cloud will be as regulated as the airline business, but some cloud services could well be more regulated than they are today, for example in privacy-sensitive areas like healthcare.

The cloud changes attitudes to IT more than it changes IT itself. The concept of delivery “as a service”, so central to cloud computing, will lead to IT organisation acting as an intermediary within business where managing the consumption of external cloud services will be as important as managing the delivery of internal services – leading to a future that is facilitated by, but not determined by, the cloud.

Author: G. Petri Source: Racontuer - Times instert

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Gregor Petri

Gregor Petri is a regular expert or keynote speaker at industry events throughout Europe and wrote the cloud primer “Shedding Light on Cloud Computing”. He was also a columnist at ITSM Portal, contributing author to the Dutch “Over Cloud Computing” book, member of the Computable expert panel and his LeanITmanager blog is syndicated across many sites worldwide. Gregor was named by Cloud Computing Journal as one of The Top 100 Bloggers on Cloud Computing.

Follow him on Twitter @GregorPetri or read his blog at blog.gregorpetri.com

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Silver Spring Networks, Inc. (NYSE: SSNI) extended its Internet of Things technology platform with performance enhancements to Gen5 – its fifth generation critical infrastructure networking platform. Already delivering nearly 23 million devices on five continents as one of the leading networking providers in the market, Silver Spring announced it is doubling the maximum speed of its Gen5 network to up to 2.4 Mbps, increasing computational performance by 10x, supporting simultaneous mesh communic...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
One of the bewildering things about DevOps is integrating the massive toolchain including the dozens of new tools that seem to crop up every year. Part of DevOps is Continuous Delivery and having a complex toolchain can add additional integration and setup to your developer environment. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Miko Matsumura, Chief Marketing Officer of Gradle Inc., will discuss which tools to use in a developer stack, how to provision the toolchain to minimize onboa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
The Quantified Economy represents the total global addressable market (TAM) for IoT that, according to a recent IDC report, will grow to an unprecedented $1.3 trillion by 2019. With this the third wave of the Internet-global proliferation of connected devices, appliances and sensors is poised to take off in 2016. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David McLauchlan, CEO and co-founder of Buddy Platform, will discuss how the ability to access and analyze the massive volume of streaming data from mil...
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
WebSocket is effectively a persistent and fat pipe that is compatible with a standard web infrastructure; a "TCP for the Web." If you think of WebSocket in this light, there are other more hugely interesting applications of WebSocket than just simply sending data to a browser. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Frank Greco, Director of Technology for Kaazing Corporation, will compare other modern web connectivity methods such as HTTP/2, HTTP Streaming, Server-Sent Events and new W3C event APIs ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that iDevices®, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. iDevices, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, has a growing line of HomeKit-enabled products available at the largest retailers worldwide. Through the “Designed with iDevices” co-development program and its custom-built IoT Cloud Infrastruc...