Cloud Changes Everything

Part 1 – Changing The Business of IT and The Democratization of Innovation

Being a bit of a geek, I have always been tempted to take a particular perspective on new technology and innovations. By the time that Cloud came along I had been doing distributed systems and Grids for quite a while and saw Cloud as a natural evolution of many of the things I had been working on over the course of my career. After all most of the technology ingredients were not exactly new.

So what was all the fuss about?

Well, for me, this is not just about the technology, fun though I happen to think that side of things is. What Cloud fundamentally changes are business models. In this sense Cloud is truly a revolution!

The evolution of Clouds from a technology perspective has been going on for a long time. A number of trends in specific areas have driven this evolution, one of the most important being at the application layer. Here, what were once monolithic applications, such as in the mainframe world, have, over time, evolved into client/server applications and then into distributed services. Distributed services that are deployed across a vast swathe of networked resources, i.e. servers, storage and other devices. Progress in programming languages and frameworks have accelerated this, allowing developers to be more productive, delivering richer functionality, faster. From a functional perspective, the application has become disaggregated or decomposed so that discrete components (originally presentation, business logic and persistence tiers, but now more granular) can be separately developed, optimized, managed, scaled and so forth. This functional decomposition is of profound importance. If the application is a business service, i.e. the realization of a business process in software, then it can effectively be decomposed into business process fragments. Once this has been done, these process fragments can be individually optimized, deployed, scaled and so forth. They can also be re-factored or mashed up in new and interesting ways. Enterprises can then focus on the process fragments that give them competitive advantage and buy, rent, outsource those that do not. Indeed now you have the opportunity, as a business or organization, to focus solely on your differentiating value to your customers/users and to source everything else from somewhere else, i.e. the Cloud. Not only does this change the business of IT, it will also have fundamental consequences in terms of innovation. As an innovator or entrepreneur, all you will (eventually) need to create your business is an idea, the ability to codify your idea, connectivity to the cloud and a credit card. Everything else can be provided as a service via the Cloud. This vision is enormously powerful. Ideas can be tried out rapidly with minimal capital investment. Successful businesses and services will be able to grow rapidly without the discontinuities in the development of non-differentiating internal IT services and infrastructure. Existing businesses will be able to optimize and focus on what gives them competitive advantage. Businesses will even be able to shrink when required without the burden of paying for infrastructure and resources that are no longer required. This does change everything.

Next… Economies of Specialization

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