It's human nature to want the newest and best of everything, even if the ramifications are still unknown. Enterprises fall into this trap as well, considering they are built and run by humans. It's kind of the digital version of shoot first and ask questions later.
The trigger on cloud computing has already been pulled across the enterprise industry at large, so the time to ask some salient questions, of course, is now. As IDG reported earlier this month, more than a third of IT budgets are now devoted to cloud computing, with two-thirds expecting to increase cloud budgets by an average of 16 percent. That means the cloud has moved past the experimental stage and is now a significant factor in streamlining IT infrastructure and even developing new business opportunities.
Although the cloud is by and large a technological development, many of the most pertinent questions surrounding its usefulness as a business platform are non-technical. The changes it brings to well-established processes and organizational structures will be significant, so it helps to have a clear understanding of where things stand in your organization in order to implement the cloud efficiently and productively. As InformationWeek's Beth Stackpole points out, the cloud will impact not only IT architecture and application infrastructure, but core business alignments, manpower skill sets and overall management processes.
But if it seems like you are behind the curve just because you haven't worked everything out yet, you're not. Accenture recently polled more than 40 top officials at tech companies that are looking to utilize the cloud for new business opportunities and found that few, if any, had a clear understanding of the complexity of the task ahead of them. Whether it's adapting existing business models to the cloud or building entirely new models altogether, even so-called leaders in the cloud are struggling with the governance, service delivery and even internal political challenges in turning the cloud into a money-maker.
Of course, this is not altogether unusual at the onset of a new computing paradigm. If you look back at history, many of these same issues accompanied the development of the mainframe, the PC and the Internet. TheStreet.com's Dana Blankenhorn notes that every decade since the 1950s has been characterized by a distinctive innovation and a dominant innovator. The only difference between then and now is this decade is still too new to gauge ultimate winners and losers, so it could very well be that the real advances in cloud computing are still to come, and they will not necessarily be technical ones.
So where does that leave us? On the one hand, there is nothing to be gained by sitting on the sidelines. Great rewards are almost always the providence of great risk and great effort. On the other hand, stumbling blindly into the future is not exactly a sound business practice, either.
If anything, it's enough to recognize that the cloud is not simply a new technology, but a seismic shift in the entire enterprise culture. The consequences may not be entirely clear, but there's no turning back now.