Information Technology Management with a Purpose

Apr 3 2012   8:20AM GMT

When will the cloud burst?

S R Balasubramanian Profile: S R Balasubramanian

The ‘Cloud’ has been at the horizon for quite some time and is now slowly moving to the center stage. A lot has been written about this topic and spoken of at numerous meetings and seminars for long. Both business magazines and IT journals have carried stories on this subject and some have even put them on the cover page. Such is the importance that ‘cloud computing’ enjoys.

The cloudy outlook

CIOs have often been accused of ignorance or for resisting application of this new technological phenomenon. CIOs perhaps are not the only ones to blame, as technology vendors, service providers, and the media, all have played a part and have done their bit, to create confusion. The hype that surrounds this subject is phenomenal and perhaps equals or exceeds the buzz created on new technologies in the past. Articles in business magazines, discussions on television and direct mailers to senior corporate honchos touted ‘cloud’ as the single most important thing to happen and as a harbinger for all ills. Speakers were eloquent about the transformation that ‘cloud’ could bring to the enterprises.

While management personnel hardly knew of the subject, CIO knew little and the vendors were also unsure. This created a difficult situation for the CIOs and till not much time ago I saw them grappling with the subject not knowing how to proceed. Vendors were also not ready with their offerings and did not have clear answers to questions on application migration and software licensing costs. The situation is getting better now as some implementations are happening and as we see the technology getting mature and vendors more knowledgeable.

The seminal changes
I was recently invited to be a co-panelist at a seminar to discuss ‘Application of Cloud’. My initial reaction was to stay away as I had attended many such events in the past, but the person explained to me that the occasion was for launching a book written on the subject. This book called ‘To the Cloud’ written by three senior Indian executives of Microsoft was meant to cut across the noise and clutter and address the Why, What, and How of enterprise cloud adoption based on the experience of implementing ‘Cloud’ within Microsoft.

The seminar was refreshingly different as it did not talk of the concept or the need for embracing the cloud but dealt with issues with respect to adoption. To me this indicated a shift in thinking, meaning that people now accept that ‘cloud’ is here to stay and are more interested in discussing how to go about assessing their requirement and understanding the steps needed for adoption. The moderator, the chief guest, and one of the authors spoke briefly about the need for a clear assessment, about deciding what applications to shift, the priorities and challenges faced with respect to application migration, assurances on service levels, vendor lock-in, and security.

The inflection point?
Towards the end, the moderator threw a question to the panelists asking them when, in their opinion would the cloud reach the inflection point with ‘cloud’ being adopted in very large numbers and becoming pervasive like the mobile phones of today. Panel members, of course, were varied in their opinion, but felt sure that the adoption would accelerate soon. I however stuck out my neck and said that I expected the cloud to start taking off in about two years and that it will become as popular as outsourcing of services is today.

I felt that as people become more aware, as technology gets more mature, partners more experienced and with more examples of implementation as references, adoption would be so much easier and faster. I may have been over optimistic but I do admit having been taken by surprise by the question. Later as I delved on the subject I felt that he question was very relevant. With so much being talked about the potential of this technology, it is but necessary that this technology or approach delivers its promise sooner than later.

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