When Will the Corporate Cloud Reach Its Potential?

Earlier this week I had dinner with a group of senior IT managers. As you can imagine, it’s not possible to take these types of people to dinner without a little (or in this instance a lot) shoptalk entering the mix. However, there was one consistent theme during dinner and that was the migration of corporate IT to the cloud.

What amazed me during these discussions was the level of negativity from these senior managers; key decision makers who are spread across a range of industries. The appetite to start moving to the cloud, whether it is public or private, was low to say the least. The fear of seceding control, increased in security risks, possible impact of future regulations, growing trend of European nationalism and numerous other reasons were cited as strong prohibitors.

Yet this continued fear of the corporate cloud comes at a time when the media is suggesting that 2012 could be a pivotal year for growth. There is a whole range of articles that highlight how CTOs are overcoming their cloud phobias. We even had Aaron Levie, CEO of BOX, state recently that he’d seen an unbelievable transition to CIO-led conversations on enterprise cloud storage. In fact, Levie believes that large corporations are now ready to sign on the dotted line on enormous cloud-storage deals.

We really shouldn’t be surprised when chief officers of large IT integration companies and cloud-based storage firms espouse the rapidity of corporate cloud adoption. If they’re not vehement on this then who will be? However, analysts also seem to be quite bullish about growth here. James Staten, a Forrester analyst, in his 2012 predictions suggests the cloud is now entering its awkward teenage years. During this phase we can expect to see rapid growth, a range of success and a number of failures as the cloud strives to assume its own identity.

Comparing the cloud to an awkward teenager is certainly an interesting analogy and one that my dinner guests agreed with. One of the key challenges that Staten highlights for the awkward teen is budgeting, ensuring that you adequately plan to scale. Ultimately this is a paradigm shift that moves away from traditional IT spend on purchases of physical hardware that are wholly owned and a known factor to pay per use platforms that will vary as demand dictates.

Yet what I find incredible here is that people don’t explore both sides of the coin, especially when it comes to cost. Yes, budgets are going to change and you will move from capital expenditure to operational expenditure but you need to look at the efficiencies that the cloud presents. With a pay as you go model enterprises have incredible opportunities to embrace new platforms, new services that streamline operations and harness productivity. Ultimately the cloud enables enterprises to respond quickly to customer demands and new business opportunities.

In addition to cost benefits, it’s also important to understand the data benefits. Moving to a cloud solution helps you to effectively liberate your data and empower your teams to better understand current processes. I only need consider how Salesforce and its dashboard views have provided me with a holistic scope of operations to see this in action. I now have a detailed tool that enables me to understand workflows and where weaknesses may lie.

There can be no question that we have a long way to go here. The U.S. Patriot Act and its continued rumblings are worrying, as are the responses of France and Germany to build their own cloud infrastructure protected against the prying eyes of the U.S. government. However, we need to overcome these challenges and embrace new opportunities. There’s incredible potential here and it’s time we started supporting the awkward teenager and pushed him on his way to a prosperous and effective adulthood.

Do you believe that corporate IT belongs in the cloud? Do you expect to see mass migration to cloud solutions in 2012? Has the cloud become an awkward teenager and or is it still toddling? Let me know what you think.

  • http://tgc-global.com art nazzaro

    Executive Adoption is essential to support any paradyme shift in IT delivery.
    Without it it isn’t some much cloud proponents as adolesence but CTO as
    the parent of a cloud teenager-insecure and worried about there future is not an attractive profile.
    As the business goes directly to SaaS, PaaS and IaaS providers-what they are really saying to the CTO
    is” offer us IT as a Service-usage-based-on-demand-services”. They are saying” provide us
    with elastic and agile resources that we can use as needed to improve our competitive
    advantage and transform our business and start new businesses”-Perhaps they should check their response and make it constructive, lest they before appearing as a generation of comfortable only with the ways used to be done. Bezos of Amazon has a great memory to when others in another parent-child shift pedicted brick and morar above internet commerce. Now 10 years after Amazon became cash flow positive-he has predicted that Amazon Cloud Services will exclipse ther current core fulfillment business in the next five years!! once a petulant child and visionary always an irritant to the status quo.

    • http://tgc-global.com art nazzaro

      please excuse the typos

      • http://www.advaoptical.com Gareth Spence

        Thanks, Art. You make some great points here. I wasn’t aware of Bezos’
        prediction. That’s an incredible statement. I’d be curious to know how close Amazon is to achieving this goal. You clearly underline the need for cloud-based solutions, especially when it comes to a competitive advantage and the need to transform businesses. This is at the very core of the cloud. As I mentioned in my post, I’ve seen how tools such as Salesfore can impact upon an enterprise, how they help to streamline operations, drive effective communications and generally help teams to achieve their goals.

        How do you see the corporate cloud developing over the next few years?


        • http://www.tgc-global.com art nazzaro

          As we begin 2012, there isn’t one Enterprise organization that I talk with that isn’t addressing the need for an Enterprise Cloud RoadMap; nor a service provider whether it be carrier or data center services provider that isn’t doing the same.
          We are at an important juncture, an inflection point, if you will, that asks, no demands- that you take the cloud fork in the road, the only question is how sure footed you will be.
          Those who hesitate only indicate by reference that they have no clear direction. This time takes deliberate action and cadance. Not a rush to “cloud washed” ideas against vendors existing products-renamed, but a look under the hood, if you will -to understand how for instance, new abstraction layer tools can migrate,onboard,provision,analyze,manage and orchestrate a true IT-as-a-Service Model. We conduct comprehensive assessments to begin our process to determine “cloud-readiness” and lay this roadmap and its true costs out for our customers. Frequently they are quite relieved if only to get a clear idea of where they are and how and at what pace they can go forward.Identifying a few important cloud initiatives that fit the roadmap and successfully executing those initiatives is the obvious next step. By the way we see the Optical product space as critical to the core network especially as the large enterprise and carrier addresses Big Data requirements.

          • http://www.advaoptical.com Gareth Spence

            You strike a resonant chord when you discuss cloud ignorance or, perhaps, cloud fear. I talk to a lot of IT teams who are still afraid of the cloud and this suspected seceding of control. So much so, they overlook the incredible opportunities available to them. Sounds like you’re doing a great job of gently coaxing enterprises and their IT teams to look at the possibilities and explore the incredible potential of the cloud.

            Thanks for recognising the importance of the optical domain. People often are too quick to overlook the importance of the underlying network to the success of the cloud. At the moment, we’re involved in an enormous rebuild of the network’s core. This rebuild, or optical reboot as it’s sometimes referred to, is critical to the cloud’s success and especially in regards to big data.

            Are you involved in any big data projects?


  • http://www.tgc-global.com art nazzaro

    re-big data Hadoop projects clearly any carrier servicing the big guys like Google, Facebook, Linkedin, and SalesForce speak to the need for low latency; high availability and security (including encription)

    The enterprise “big data” is really unstructured out of control data that needs to be brought under policies and orchestrated by storage analytic services, this will be the killer app for the big corporate data is a logical: “storage as a service” offering.

    We are working on both types of cloud projects and once again the enteprise is borrowing from technologies and services that are outside of traditional enterprise datastore services. Adva’s encription works at the optical level right? Cculd you elaborate how you guys have been working with carriers and enterprises in this regard, specifically how you work with some of storage switch vendors?

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