Just How Strategic Is the Cloud?
Most see cloud computing as a strategic move, but security is still a prime concern.
While there is still a lot of debate over the merits of cloud computing from a tactical IT perspective, there doesn't seem to be a lot of conversation lately about the potential value of cloud computing from a strategic business perspective. In fact, the strategic business benefits of cloud computing may wind up making the tactical IT arguments over cloud computing basically moot.
As cloud computing evolves, the concept of an "app store" is going to evolve to the point where companies will be able to invoke entire business processes in the cloud. For example, the IT services firm Infosys is building out a series of "white label" business application services in the cloud.
The core idea, says Sanjay Jalona, vice president and head of the Hi-Tech & Manufacturing unit for Infosys for North America, is that rather than invest capital, businesses across the board are moving to a utility model that treats everything as an operating expense. This allows the business to right-size the usage of resources, because, for example, new users and applications are only brought online as needed.
Jalona says that while this shift to operating expenses to pay for services got its impetus during the recent economic downturn, it's clear the trend is here to stay regardless of the state of the economy. It's just a fundamentally more efficient way to manage the business.
So while cloud computing has started out as a tactical discussion about how best to deliver IT, it's quickly evolving into a strategic business imperative as companies change the way the business is fundamentally managed. This is especially true, says Jalona, when you consider all the challenges associated with collaborating across multiple business units and the need to manage extended networks of partners and suppliers.
It's still a little early to determine exactly what kinds of "white label" applications and services will take off in the cloud. But the business impact of cloud computing is going to be more profound than where any given server happens to be located.