When cloud computing was still in its nascent stage, even the most vocally supportive pundits cautioned: it may not be for everyone. There were plenty of discussions surrounding true expenditures, reliability, security, accessibility, and all sort of other -ity commonly encountered when dealing with the IT department. Some companies forged ahead and others waited.
But as we come to realize now, it appears that the cloud is for everybody. Any day you buy something from Amazon, check Gmail, download apps on the iPhone, save a file to Dropbox, or stream a movie from Netflix, you are a enjoying the cloud. Somewhere in the world one or more data centers with very fat network pipes are moving bits and completing transactions seamlessly.
It’s very powerful indeed.
But those are public clouds, so to speak. Companies cannot and do not want to run on a public cloud. There are corporate secrets and IP that should be guarded and hidden from the public and the competition. Yet there are also frequent occasions to interact and engage with third parties in order to drive an initiative or deliver a project. Even within the same organization there’s usually the need to collaborate effectively, among different departments, in dispersed geographical regions.
The cloud can certainly be an effective vehicle to carry collaborative efforts, especially when it’s a hybrid of private and public varieties. Don’t just see the cloud as a server farm in the foothills of North Carolina. With the appropriate devices and applications, the cloud can be a true blessing to GTD (Get Things Done) with the least headache.
Video conferencing, presentations, document sharing, project planning, software development, issues tracking, etc. can all benefit with the cloud. Usually no additional hardware is required, and today most companies opt for powerful virtualization technologies as opposed to buying more boxes.
The era of chasing boxes is definitely over. If your CIO is always worrying about chasing boxes then there is something very wrong in the strategic direction of IT. Even the companies that make these boxes are in the cloud business (e.g. HP and Dell).
Of course, the cloud is not just replacing boxes, either. It can be the conduit for so much more — the Magic Schoolbus of an enterprise.