Without a coherent cloud strategy in place, businesses are at the risk of creating isolated pockets of IT without a significant impact on business innovation and agility. Data security and compliance could also be at risk, as IT organizations struggle to manage security, operational processes and management automation.
With the current momentum and buzz around cloud, almost every business is in the process of evaluating, or has setup or tested a cloud based service. This will help organizations to get a feel of the various offerings, but does little to generate long term business value.
Just like evaluating a migration or consolidation in an on premise environment, there are some obvious inflexion points to consider such as hardware or application refresh, service agreement renewals or new IT deployments. These might set the stage for a long term adoption of cloud services.
Business needs must drive strategy
The impact of a technology deployment must always be seen in the context of how it can help realize business value, foster innovation or improve agility
. Several times, neglecting this basic premise leads to a lack of clarity in expectations and end goals, and this is bound to result in disillusionment.
This cardinal principle holds good in formulating a cloud adoption strategy. By its inherent nature, cloud services lend themselves to low upfront costs, elasticity in scale, flexibility in deployment and cost savings through a pay-per-use model
. It is critical to map these to business requirements so that there is tangible value from cloud adoption.
IT Infrastructure needs to evolve
The second aspect that needs to be considered is how the current IT infrastructure needs to evolve – in terms of architecture, application portfolio, security, management and operational processes
, so that a smooth and seamless integration can be achieved with the cloud. No organization can hope to wish away decade of accumulated on-premise IT investments, and it is important to build a cloud strategy with these factors in mind.
An in-depth understanding of the application landscape, including application interactions and data exchange is crucial to achieving better efficiency on the path to the cloud
. Decisions will need to be made on which applications need to continue on legacy systems, which can be virtualized and deployed on a private cloud and those which can be hosted on public clouds.
Know your needs
The third aspect is ensuring that you know exactly what to demand from your potential cloud vendors in terms of security, scalability, availability and compliance
. The cloud is still an evolving model, and there are very little standards in place, especially on interoperability and data export/import. Businesses will need to formulate exit strategies and options.
A careful review of vendor SLA terms and conditions is critical to ensuring that there are no nasty surprises at a later point in time. The IT landscape is in a constant state of flux, and no IT strategy can be set in stone
. Businesses will do well to constantly monitor, review and revise strategies in sync with changes in technology.
Sometimes, the most stringent voices against cloud adoption originate from internal IT. While a move to cloud services is typically transparent and often enriching to end users, there are fundamental shifts that IT organizations will have to make in order to cope with an increasingly cloud centric IT model. The traditional model of IT working with its myriad of technology suppliers to deliver services to the business will change. However, the importance of internal IT will remain unchanged, in fact, it's influence will increase as it moves towards a business centric role.
Business Centric IT
While IT will still drive technology delivery to business, it will now need to move away from being technology centric and adopt a business centric, innovation focussed approach. IT leadership will need to gain a fundamental understanding of the cloud value proposition, and adopt a structured cost benefits analysis of the offerings from a plethora of cloud services providers
. This structured analysis should include representatives from business teams as well, so that a comprehensive analysis of the risks vis-à-vis the organization's business goals can be undertaken. A hard look at the regulatory, compliance and security angles must be an integral part of this review mechanism.
SLAs are key
Here, it must be clearly understood that the cloud is simply another delivery mechanism, and not a flat out replacement for incumbent systems
. The structured analysis will help in understanding which services can be easily migrated to the cloud with minimum disruption and risk. As cloud services mature, this analysis must be reviewed periodically in order to incorporate updated offerings.
In most cases, the cloud service provider SLAs incorporate BCP and DR plans, but this must be reviewed against the organizational policies, as cloud SLAs are designed for a wide range of IT consumers
. Even the SLAs must be closely matched with business requirements – the more the number of 9's required, the higher the cost associated. The cost of moving to the cloud could be significantly higher for a four 9's SLA, as compared to a three 9's SLA.
Revisit traditional roles and budgeting
The structure of the IT team needs to change in order to reflect the new business priorities, and needs to provide for roles which take care of strategy, transformation, risk and operational management
. There will also need specialist roles for data interface and exchange between on-premise and cloud service providers.
Budgeting will change significantly, as expenditure moves from capex to opex, and this could also potentially impact the staffing policy. There can also be scenarios where business units start interacting directly with cloud service providers for specific use scenarios.
However, on the whole, the IT group will continue to be the focal point for delivery of IT services, but the emphasis will be more on service delivery rather than on technology deployment, and there will be a host of new challenges and functions that the IT team will need to meet
In spite of the numerous benefits associated with the cloud model, adoption needs to be carefully planned and reviewed in conjunction with business needs. Some business needs readily lend themselves to the cloud model, while some require a more careful assessment, and possibility maturing of the cloud model before they can be moved.
It is important to recognize that every organization's needs are unique, and there is no single barometer that helps in making a judgment. The right assessment of readiness will ensure a satisfied experience with the initial move, which will pave the way for a greater and more inclusive cloud adoption at a later point in time.
Preparedness is key
The overwhelming truth is that the cloud is still new to both providers as well as consumers, and hence it becomes all the more important to work on a structured assessment. The cloud is a metamorphic term for a set of related technologies - at a basic level, it breaks down into infrastructure, platform and software as a service
. There are varying considerations for adoption of each of these services, but any assessment should cover the current network and application architecture, security policy and GRC models.
A structured assessment should list out network assets, including perimeter devices and capabilities along with servers, storage and bandwidth
. The quality of bandwidth, for example, becomes critical as cloud adoption gains foothold, and this could make or mar the cloud experience.
Most shared cloud services offer a one size fits all model with respect to security
. It is often difficult or even impossible to customize security policies for a specific client. A clear understanding of the current security policies in force, and how they would need to be translated in a hybrid environment is crucial
Several times, the pressure to move to the cloud on account of cost considerations has meant that organizations have not paid enough attention to the security implications. The challenge in such scenarios is that it could seriously affect adoption going forward and derail the cloud momentum in an organization.
Governance, Risk Management and Compliance
Most medium and large organizations have setup a GRC model, and this works fine as long as the infrastructure is on-premise
. However, the addition of cloud services to this model complicates the scenario, as it quite difficult to maintain consistency between the current GRC model and the cloud model
Careful review and assessment of the risks will help identify the new policies that will need to be in place in order to maintain the best of both worlds.
While in a dedicated model, cloud vendors are more amenable to change, it is in the shared model where customers need to assimilate the cloud vendor's standard security and compliance policies in detail for best fit with their organization's practices.
From a technology perspective, the cloud represents a disruptive force on top of several evolutions in technology, some gradual and some radical. The foundation for today's cloud has origins in technologies that were formulated several decades back. However, the cloud model also has emerged as a result of pertinent demands that the macro-economic environment places on today's businesses.
For example, the recent recession has been one of the major drivers that have accelerated the adoption of cloud computing, as it forced businesses to do more with less. As the global economy recovers and returns back to growth in most parts of the world, businesses are faced with a need to be more agile and responsive than ever before.
They need to setup, scale or even withdraw from new markets with minimal incremental investments or losses. The inherent nature of cloud computing ensures that these needs are met without compromising on service delivery and quality.
Agile technology that keeps pace with business
In an age of instant everything, results are also expected in near real time. To do this, organizations must leverage their IT investments like never before in order to serve and support business demands. With monolithic datacenters that have increased in complexity and scale, it has been an uphill task to respond quickly.
Cloud services, with their utility like, turn on – turn off nature are in a great position to meet these demands
. Already, several businesses are reaping the benefits of a scalable, on-tap computing experience. While in the traditional model, one had to wait for almost a month for a physical server to be available on line, it now takes just a matter of minutes for additional computing power to be available. By reducing time to market, and alleviating the need for huge upfront investments, cloud services will enable businesses to respond to changes much more quickly, at a much lower cost
Scale up or scale down – instantly
Computational power can be scaled up or scaled down as needs change. The emergence of connected mobile devices means that almost everyone can tap into the cloud, enabling new dimensions to collaboration and mobility. With zero fixed costs, save for the end point devices, cloud computing is truly a CFO's dream come true
From an IT department perspective, there are no recurring hardware or software upgrades, patches, compatibility and data backup issues – everything is taken care of for a fixed fee per user. Provisioning expensive storage can now be done away with. Highly automated cloud services mean that the IT team no longer has to worry about expensive, yet inconsistent and inaccurate management tools
Explore new frontiers
The cloud presents unlimited opportunities – both for established businesses as well as new ventures. New business models can be tried, tested and rolled out – or rolled back with little impact on financials
. This encourages growth of new business models, ventures and fosters business innovation.
Cloud computing will enable accurate metering and usage of applications, and free up IT staff who can now focus more on helping IT to add business value
. IT, like never before has the potential to play a direct and significant role in an organization's quest for growth and profitability.
The cost savings, flexibility and scalability of the cloud model does come with a set of risks, some of which require a rethink of traditional security and compliance mechanisms. Most cloud service providers, and even market researchers tend to gloss over the potential risks associated with cloud deployment. However, the fact is that an objective assessment and analysis of risks associated with cloud adoption will be paramount to the success of this model.
Performance and Availability
Even within a short time frame, there have been several documented outages from cloud service providers. Almost every major cloud service provider, including Google, Amazon and Microsoft have had instances of service disruptions – and some of them were quite significant, lasting for a few hours.
While there are stringent SLAs that backup the cloud services from these providers, with provisions for service credits or other forms of compensation, the real question is to understand the business impact to an organization, and formulating the necessary alternative strategies, credits notwithstanding. A comprehensive and well tested business continuity plan is critical to the long term success of this model, and this must be viewed from the business perspective
. Considering that a business needs to cede complete control over these aspects to a third party, it might not suit all mission critical applications, and adoption needs to reflect this reality.
Security, Compliance and Audit
Another burning issue is with respect to data security, compliance and privacy. Most cloud models are based on shared infrastructure, which involve sharing the same physical infrastructure with unknown parties. Organizations need to carefully review their cloud provider SLAs with respect to these aspects. A cloud provider needs to clearly spell out its policies on compliance and audit
. What happens if a cloud provider's network is hacked or compromised? What are the options available in an emergency?
How can data be retrieved in the case of a catastrophic failure? How safe is the data from unauthorized access by the cloud provider's own administrators? What will be the compensation in such an eventuality? Even if compensation is provided, is it adequate to cover the real costs to the business? With data being stored in multiple countries across continents, what will be the applicable law? More questions than answers remain at this stage, but these are on expected lines, and most of these issues will be addressed as the model matures
With cloud service providers mushrooming in every nook and corner, organizations also need to ensure that their valuable data is accessible at all times, including when they wish to shift providers
. Interoperability has always been a pain point, even with a fairly mature on-premise environment, and it will continue to be a source of vexation even in the cloud. There are no standards that govern cloud service providers today, and exit strategies need to be clearly planned in advance.
When you trust a third party with all your data and mission critical applications, it goes without saying that due diligence must be performed on the provider's reputation and long term business viability. The industry is in a constant state of flux, and it is difficult to predict fortunes beyond a few years. In addition to this, there must be clearly defined policies in the event of mergers and acquisitions, so that customer interests are not sacrificed
An SLA review needs to incorporate these points, so that the customer can even explore the option of migrating the data back into an on-premise infrastructure, if necessary. To reiterate, a realistic perspective on the potential risks, known and unknown is crucial as the model evolves and matures to strike a balance customer needs and business efficiency
. Over the next couple of years, this will set up the cloud model for long term adoption.
Small business can easily migrate their entire IT infrastructure to the cloud. In fact, one of Gartner's predictions for the coming decade is that 20% of businesses will not own any IT assets by 2012. However, the move is not so simple in the case of medium and large businesses, who typically run a host of applications, ranging from legacy to current, and those that vary in importance from supportive to mission critical. Hence, identifying the right workload to move to the cloud becomes critical. This identification also helps an organization to fine tune its cloud adoption strategy.
Messaging and Collaboration
The most obvious candidates for a move to the cloud are services such as messaging, collaboration and sales force automation
, as these are fairly mature in cloud evolution terms. Established companies such as Microsoft, Google and Salesforce.com have fine-tuned their delivery models and serve millions of users. Other good bets are test and development environments.
Most T&D environments have been virtualized for better efficiency, and also because the load tends to be sporadic, often peaking in cycles. Also, the mission criticality is low, which means that there is more leeway for an organization to adapt to the cloud
. Valuable datacenter space and resources, especially storage can be freed up by moving these workloads to the cloud.
Compute intensive workloads
Highly computing intensive applications, such as simulators and analytical applications are extremely good candidates to move on to the cloud
. These applications typically do not require much of interaction with other applications, and are typically batch mode processing. Performing these in house means that a huge amount of computing power will be required, which is often not possible or feasible. With unlimited scalability via the cloud, these workloads can be completed in a fraction of the time that it would take on-premise.
Filtering and Archival Services
Filtering services such as antivirus, anti-spam have also been in the cloud for quite some time, and their efficiency has been proven
. Customers no longer have to grapple with frequent definition and patch updates in order to maintain their desired SLAs. In fact, the cloud SLAs are frequently more stringent than what most customers have managed to achieve, so this almost always comes across as a positive experience.
Retention services such as backup and archival are again typical workloads that can move to the cloud
. The cost benefit analysis is very positive, and most customers are inclined to take their first steps to the cloud with these workloads.
As the cloud model evolves, even information worker productivity applications such as Office suites are moving online
. The only constraint in such cases is continuous and high performance internet bandwidth, as it will otherwise degrade the end user experience.
Private clouds, as the name implies, tries to replicate all the cloud benefits – scalability, flexibility and metered usage, but in an in-house model that helps to ease some of the concerns that surround a public cloud deployment. Several vendors have offerings in this space, and these are often based on the same technologies that underlie public cloud infrastructure.
In evaluating a private cloud infrastructure, virtualization is often the first step. Any move to a private cloud model should not hinder the existing IT architecture, and hence an organization needs to setup processes and tools that will help to manage a heterogeneous, and possibly hybrid infrastructure.
Backward compatibility with existing processes and tools is critical, while providing at the same time usage and cost metrics to drive effective IT utilization.
As most organizations possess significant inertia in moving to the cloud in terms of existing technology infrastructure, adoption of the private cloud concept is an important step to reuse the existing resources, while at the same time preserving the cost benefits of the cloud model.
Any tools and processes used in creating a private cloud must also provide specific features such as fast provisioning, self-service and metering. Often, an organization's private cloud will consist of multiple internal clouds revolving around specific business needs. Setting up a private cloud infrastructure will also help to clearly define an organization's public cloud policy and processes.
Benefits of a private cloud
In the case of a private cloud, internal IT becomes the provider, and paves way for the efficient utilization of IT assets
. In a study conducted by IBM, it was established that a private cloud deployment, at the same level of IT support, provided for the following benefits:
- Hardware savings of 65% through reduced infrastructure and improved hardware utilization.
- Software savings of 27% from lower license costs from improved utilization.
- System administration savings of 45% from reduced system administration and operation costs.
- Provisioning savings of 76% from labor savings in service request management.
Points to ponder
There are fairly mature offerings from vendors such as Vmware and Microsoft. Microsoft, notably has provided for integrated physical and virtual management tools which bring down the complexity of managing a hybrid infrastructure
. However, this is not to say that a private cloud does not have its disadvantages.
The IT effort and complexity still persists, and the private cloud needs to be exposed to the internet, then maintaining security becomes a key concern
. There are models which help overcome this – notably Amazons's Virtual Private Cloud, which is an isolated portion of Amazon's public EC2 cloud accessible via a secure link.
In order to build a successful and sustainable long term strategy for cloud adoption, an organization needs to build a cloud roadmap which incorporates a comprehensive cost benefit analysis. This will help identify the low hanging fruits in terms of readily movable workloads, thereby assisting in proper migration sequence, leading to maximization of benefits.
Thoroughness of roadmap is key
However, as organizations race to move to the cloud, this crucial process is frequently overlooked. Given the constantly evolving nature – the current cloud landscape could change significantly over the next couple of years, a well thought out strategy is a must to cope with any eventuality
A thorough analysis will also help determine which of the three cloud models (public, private or hybrid) are best suited for a particular workload
. A roadmap typically begins with a pilot, which will help give an organization a firsthand experience of how the cloud can help solve their current business and technology pains.
Work on a precise model
A rigorous methodology for cloud adoption
is integral to a successful adoption, as pointed out by Gartner:
- Identify business impacts & risks
- Identify potential cloud application candidates
- Determine cloud costs and ROI
- Determine impacts to the organization
- Identify and vet cloud providers
- Mitigate residual risks
- Incorporate cloud governance into everyday operational procedures
5 steps to a cloud adoption strategy
A five step program to building a cloud adoption strategy by Gartner
is detailed below:
- Identify key stake holders and identify cloud computing objectives
- Build a core team
- Set clear business objectives and cloud adoption principles
- Scope the effort
- Business and application assessment
- Business impact analysis
- Application assessment
- Cost analysis
- Organizational impact
- Vendor selection
- Mitigate risk and limit liability
- Achieve steady state
However, these steps are easier listed out than actually followed. A real life strategy involves many more complications and constraints. The pressure to reduce costs or to embrace the cloud results in an incomplete or poorly thought out strategy, as this will lead to pitfalls that can potentially derail the adoption, and thus turn counter-productive
A job well planned is half done. However compelling the pressure, the formation of a realistic cloud adoption strategy is critical to success. It is less time consuming to develop a strategy than to make errors and waste time in recovering from them
Most organizations talk about moving to a public, shared cloud when they discuss their cloud strategy. But the fact is that this is just one of the options available – there are private clouds, virtual private clouds, dedicated clouds and hybrid clouds, not to mention the various levels of abstraction – infrastructure, platform and software.
The omnipresent public cloud might not be the answer or even a viable solution in many scenarios, and hence it is critical for a business to understand how it can leverage the other forms of the cloud. Now multiply that with the number of offerings from various cloud vendors, and businesses once again are faced with the daunting task of integration.
The challenge of change management
Again, the need to use best of breed services is driven by the consumer – with so many diverse consumer services, businesses need to keep ahead of their customer demands that are constantly evolving
. A small business might be better in adopting a cohesive solution from a single vendor, as it will minimize integration issues.
However, for medium or large businesses, it might not always be not possible for a single cloud service provider to satisfy all their business needs, and hence it will end up using services from multiple providers. Now this by itself adds a layer of complexity – how does one keep track of the various subscribed services, utilization and SLAs? The answer is an effective management solution that ensures that change management is propagated to all the internal and external resources
. End users need to be abstracted from this complexity and data flow among internal, external and hybrid applications.
Complexity will arise again
Thus, as cloud adoption gains stream
, we will surely see some of the initial benefits such as simplicity of deployment go out of the window
. However, this needs to be seen as a necessary change, as businesses need to adopt unique models of IT service delivery that best suit their business model. How they leverage and deploy the ubiquitous services will provide them an edge over their competition, and no business would want to let go of this opportunity.
A broker for the cloud
The cloud model will evolve to accommodate a cloud broker
, which will perform the task of integrating the various services and managing the relationships between the providers
. Using a cloud broker will ensure that there is only one point of accountability. Else, it will prove to be increasingly difficult to monitor and manage various cloud providers.
The cloud broker will provide an abstraction layer to the multiple cloud service providers, as well as take care of the all-important task of data integration and validity as it flows between the various systems
. Ideally, the cloud broker should provide a single SLA for the multiple services, by means of syndication with the various back end providers.
Social media is another phenomenon that has grown exponentially over the past few years. Created five years ago in an university, Facebook is now the strongest force behind this revolution, and its dominance over the web is threatening the likes of Google. Social media today plays a make or break role in determining a product or brand's success.
What was earlier confined to an interaction between a group of friends now has the potential to cascade into an avalanche of positive sentiment that can elevate a business or product to superstardom. With audiences touching hundreds of millions of users, often some of the most savvy and outspoken ones, businesses can no longer ignore the impact of this phenomenon.
The two dimensions
There are two dimensions to social computing and the cloud
. One is in using cloud technologies to engage and interact with social media
, and carry that feedback back to business. The other is in using social media tools and techniques to increase collaboration and foster innovation in the workplace
The fact that Google views Facebook as one of the most significant threats to its dominance is a clear signal that businesses need to think beyond search engine optimization to social media optimization
. The inherent nature of these networks – a close circle of trusted friends confers a much higher degree of credibility that a search engine result would.
Businesses are already seeing value
There are several examples of how businesses are using social media
to interact more closely with their customers and increase customer satisfaction and revenues. A good example from India is Cleartrip, which has successfully leveraged social media, including blogs, Facebook and Twitter to increase consumer satisfaction and resolve service quality issues
Even a technology major such as Dell tweets special offers via its Twitter account, and that in itself has netted several million dollars in sales. Companies such as Microsoft have Facebook account for various product groups, and enable real time communication and feedback from end users with key product managers
. These help gauge the consumer mood and fine tune a product or service so that it better meets customer expectations.
Here's where cloud based CRM tools such as salesforce.com come into the picture. Built on the cloud, and with social media integration via the Service cloud, it enables users to get real time updates of their brand or product in the social media
. On the other hand, it also provides tools such as Chatter which provide a social media like experience within the organization, helping to better leverage intellectual capital.
Transparent and Transformational
Businesses that are able to successfully leverage cloud computing services and integrate with social media will be able to foster customer relationships
like never before. Organizations need new strategies to help them cope with the social media phenomenon.
Social media has ushered in a new era of transparency in business and governance (think of the leaked US army papers), and a new category of intelligence, called social intelligence has begun to emerge from this combined data. This is where the intersection between cloud computing and social media helps businesses to redefine their approach to product and service innovation, customer satisfaction and retention
Setting up a disaster recovery plan and mechanism is an expensive proposition, and the costs tend to increase sharply with the complexity of the IT infrastructure and the number of applications.
Given the business criticality, most mid-sized and larger organizations have a disaster recovery plan in place. However, an overwhelming majority of organizations are not able to establish proper testing procedures that ensure the plan really works in a contingency.
Even if they are able to test a successful failover, the variables and dependencies are quite high. Here is where the cloud can provide an extremely cost effective and fail proof option. In particular, small and medium businesses should consider cloud based DR solutions very seriously, given the lack of resources and budgets.
The cloud is always up
Cloud based service providers have their own network of redundant servers in multiple geographic locations, so fault tolerance and SLAs are taken care of from their end. The most significant benefit of using cloud providers is that data can be accessed via the internet from almost anywhere, in a secure manner. Cloud based providers offer multiple data protection options, including full disk images of client systems and servers running mail or database workloads
. The best part about this is that costing is typically only for data volume, and of course SLA based
However, we also need to bear in mind that these services are typically data backup services, and do not provide full server mirroring. This means that customers will need to rebuild their systems before being able to restore data from the cloud. However, there are emerging options where data backed up to the cloud can be accessed by virtual cloud servers in the case of a failure, thereby ensuring that data and services are always available to the customer
This would be a true DR solution at a very affordable, pay as you use model, compared to traditional DR sites which demand a high level of investment
, but with little usage except during testing or an actual failover.
Drive early adoption and trials
Larger organizations can follow a more pragmatic approach by doing PoCs or trials with the currently available service providers
, while the model evolves to support a more comprehensive and customized offering.
This will help provide a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the solution. Obviously, if production servers can be moved to the cloud, then it becomes a completely viable option provided the hosted application meets the core business needs and functionality
Promising and fast maturing
Gartner has predicted a 7 year maturity window for these cloud based DR services, but given the current rate of evolution, it is bound to happen earlier. Cloud based DR solutions can enable recovery within hours or even minutes, based on the nature of the architecture
. What's bound to be the icing on the cake is that these servers need to be paid for only when the actual disaster occurs.
"A promise is a cloud; fulfillment is rain"
- Arabian Proverb.
An atmospheric cloud may be transient, but the IT cloud represents a very real and tangible benefit to businesses. Cloud computing has become the most talked about phrase in computing today, and is at the peak of the Gartner Hype Cycle.
Most vendors choose to portray the cloud as a panacea for all IT shortcomings, and as a new paradigm in technology. However, the reality is that the cloud is more of a gradual evolution; a logical outcome of several related advancements in technology, notably the emergence of high bandwidth, scalable and reliable public networks, virtualization and massively scalable server architecture.
Complexity associated with IT infrastructure has long stifled business innovation, and this has emerged as the biggest, though hidden cost of traditional on-premise infrastructure. While the traditional model is not about to disappear, the cloud concept will redefine and reset the established norms for delivering information technology to consumers, both business and individual. But like tectonic plates which move slowly, yet create landscape altering changes when they meet, there are some bigger, more fundamental changes that could be enabled with cloud adoption.
Opening new vistas
If the cloud delivers IT at a fraction of the cost of on-premise infrastructure
, then what does it bode for IT product and service organizations? Paradoxically, it will increase their revenues! The proportion of businesses that are well served by IT is just a fraction of the total universe
. Over the past few years, there has been a deafening buzz around the untapped millions of small businesses.
Inspite of the huge opportunity, the IT industry has unable to address these prospects with a compelling value proposition. The cloud provides the best opportunity to target these entities not as individual business, but as multi-billion dollar verticals.
Seamless business Integration
As explained earlier, although the cloud is yet to evolve in terms of interoperability and data interchange standards, this will necessarily evolve as more and more businesses move their IT systems to the cloud. At that point in cloud evolution, it will pave way for a network of businesses and services that can interact with each other on a global scale
Combine this with consumer services, and the whole network assumes the proportion of an intelligent organism that can track every aspect of products and services – right from creation to consumption.
Redefining the creation of wealth
Examples such as the wildly popular Facebook, and Salesforce.com have shown how the cloud can power a multi-billion dollar business from scratch
. Just like the Internet created new avenues for wealth generation, the cloud will empower businesses and startups like never before, as they gain access to leading edge technologies without revenue or budget barriers – the democratization of IT has begun!