The battle for the hearts and minds of business executives stretches all the way back to the early days of time-sharing. There has always been an external IT services provider telling the business that it can do the job better than the internal IT department.
Unfortunately, for internal IT departments, external IT services companies began to shift the balance of power heavily their way with cheaper labor and less costly real estate in places such as India, the Philippines, Russia and, more recently, China.
With the advent of virtualization, however, the outsourcing business quickly evolved to embrace the concept of public cloud computing, under which IT infrastructure is shared across thousands of application workloads. This approach not only appealed to traditional outsourcers, it's also brought companies such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft into the fray alongside Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Rackspace and literally hundreds of other companies.
Internal IT organizations, with or without their blessing, have watched thousands of additional application workloads shift to these public cloud computing services. From the perspective of the business owners, these public cloud computing services are basically extensions of a software-as-a-service trend that began with Salesforce.com. Because that approach works pretty well, it's only natural that it should work for a variety of other application scenarios.
Internal IT organizations, of course, can see where this is all heading. In response, many of them are embracing the concept of private cloud computing, essentially morphing their internal IT organizations into IT services companies that will compete against external ones. The core argument being made by internal IT isn't necessarily to win back what has already been lost, but rather make a case that there are certain classes of application workloads that require security, performance and data governance policies that can only be provided in a private cloud.
There is a certain amount of validity to that argument. But public cloud providers are moving quickly to address many of these issues. In addition, many of them are taking the concept of service to a level most internal IT organizations never dreamed of. Increasingly, business owners are being presented with a menu of services they can choose with the click of a button. Meanwhile, most internal IT organizations are still trying to decipher version 3.0 of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) in hopes of transforming their operations sometime in the next three years.
Unfortunately, time is not on the side of the internal IT department. As noted by Ron Papas, general manager of Informatica's cloud business unit, IT integration now also is available as a service. Increasingly, IT-savvy business executives are turning to cloud computing services to not only run the applications, but also integrate various services using the same point-and-click-type menus used to develop the service. In effect, business users can now create composite applications and data mashups on demand.
Like all great transformations in IT, this evolution will take time to play out. But it's happening faster than most internal IT organizations think. And while there will always be legacy applications that might not lend themselves to running as a service in the cloud, legacy applications eventually can be replaced.
In the final analysis, internal IT organizations are rapidly running out of time. There are hundreds of vendors out there more than willing to help internal IT organizations to rapidly transform themselves to meet the challenges of private cloud computing. Just remember, those same vendors, otherwise known as IT arms dealers, are helping the providers of public cloud computing services just as much.