While one can argue that cloud computing from a technical perspective is evolutionary, from the perspective of the business, cloud computing is nothing short of a full-boat revolution in terms of how the business will come to view IT.
That's the perspective of Lem Lasher, chief innovation officer and head of the global consulting business for the IT services firm CSC. Lasher says that we're already seeing dramatic changes in the role of the CIO as the emphasis changes from being a management position focused on IT operations to one that focuses on setting overall digital strategy. As part of that shift, the executives are a whole lot less focused on IT operations, which either will be managed by other executives inside the IT department or handled by third-party providers.
In either scenario, we're witnessing a shift. Instead of building IT systems, the IT organization is going to be a lot more focused on orchestrating the delivery of services with the vast majority of those services coming via external providers.
The challenge IT organizations will face is trying to discern which of these external sources is providing enterprise-grade cloud computing services versus, for example, Amazon, which is trying to offset the cost of its own internal IT service by making excess capacity available as a service. While that class of Amazon service is likely to be seen favorably by small software vendors, Lasher notes that a lack of flexibility in the Amazon service, coupled with an inability to stand behind service-level agreements, has IT organizations looking for approaches to cloud computing that better reflect corporate IT requirements.
Lasher notes that Amazon will only be able to compete effectively in the cloud as long as its main retail business holds up, which right now he says subsidizes the cost of the Amazon cloud services. Should the main Amazon business ever falter, the ability for Amazon to continue offering aggressive cloud pricing would be the digital equivalent of an "artificial economic mirage," notes Lasher.
In the meantime, it remains to be seen just who will be managing enterprise IT in the years ahead. But the one thing that is for certain, says Lasher, is that it will increasingly come in the form of a service that will be consumed on demand versus a fixed capital asset that depreciates more with each passing day.