I’ve been observing many viewpoints in the past few days on the phenomenon called “cloud”. Many of the discussions have been around vendor specific points of view, opinions and, in some cases, arguments/debates. I was on an analyst call earlier in the week with a client who stated that, fundamentally, cloud is just hosting – again, I’m sure many will disagree with this point of view.
I did read an interesting blog post that commented “in 1999 there were two competing business models: Application Service Providers (ASP) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The ASP model lost and SaaS won.” Whilst overtime SaaS won, ASP failed, in my opinion, not due to SalesForce rethinking the stack as mentioned in this article but because the bandwidth just wasn’t there to support an ASP model in 1999 that could provide a good user experience. One could also argue that ASP evolved into SaaS – isn’t it all just terminology at the end of the day? Well, yes, and no. It’s a combination of terminology (marketing) and technology (product) and that’s why there will always be discussions, debates and arguments – because we all have a differing viewpoint, depending on where we stand in the industry.
Joe Baguley recently presented at the Cloud Expo, discussing IT as a Strategic Weapon and part of his presentation focused on standarisation, where he alluded to the analogy of kittens and chickens in terms of servers and data centres. All our kittens have names and when they’re taken ill we pay a vet to take care of them, yet with chickens would could have a farm of 100,00 chickens and if one of them dies so what? In the world of standardisation this analogy may be true, but even with standardisation you have differing levels. What if some of my chickens are free range, others are battery hens and, god forbid, what if we have some cocks in there too! (Joe did say to me over Twitter that there will be lots of those!)
For me, the bottom line is what does all this mean to the customer. A friend of mine, who is CEO of boutique distributor, or knowledge distributor as he defines it, Prianto UK, runs his business totally in the cloud. His company is really growing quickly, based on providing complementary technologies to the likes of VMware and Citrix. Due to this growth, the company recently needed to move offices. The physical relocation didn’t take too long due to proximity of the new office from the old one, but the benefit of running his business in the cloud meant that the first employee was back up and running within only 17 minutes of leaving the old office; no servers to relocate, no new networking to be configured, no additional applications to be procured……. just ‘plug and play’.
Ladies and Gentlemen, for me that is the cloud – the ability to focus on your core business and have IT as a service that enables business agility and advantage. Whilst the vendors can argue and debate who is bigger, better, more commercially viable etc. etc. just remember, “what works best for my customer?” should always be the focus.