Having worked in the cloud computing arena for approaching 14 years I have seen many changes in technology, strategy and opinion of clients in their views to cloud technology platforms and solutions.
Attitudes to cloud adoption have changed, going through many phases from the ‘we’ll never go cloud’ to ‘we'll use it in simple non critical areas’ through to today’s cloud committed firms pushing to leverage cloud compute power across all areas possible. Alongside this has come a change in diligence and questions, less why should we consider cloud, to more mature questions relating to data security, access controls, portability and scalability.
Businesses have an increased focus on moving away from the world of custom code wherever possible to more repeatable cloud offerings, where configuration replaces custom, reducing operational and maintenance costs and allows firm driving of a faster time to market.
Cloud has changed the customer to Vendor landscape dramatically in several ways including;
· Flattening of the market – Not so long-ago solutions designed for the enterprise required infrastructure, hardware and implementation costing them out of the market for the average firm; cloud has removed this barrier allowing all firms access to the rich power and function equally.
· Relationships - Many traditional vendors only engaged with their clients through resale channels, with cloud this has changed with the delivery mechanism allowing vendors to reach direct customers on a global basis rapidly; an increasing number of customers now having direct cloud vendor relationships
· Financial – Cloud has changed models from an upfront Capex approach to an Opex, subscription model, changing how the business views its IT assets and investment.
· Installation – installation of old solutions was a necessary evil, having no true value, simply a necessity to getting to the start line of configuring for your business. With Cloud this is removed, with deployment being near instantaneous, all focus switches to the more valuable configuring to business needs and processes.
For the Enterprise Vendors such as Oracle, this leads to a wider addressable market, where the cloud offering is affordable and applicable to all from very small to the largest of Enterprises. Brands traditionally seen as expensive or addressing a specific market size segment can now broaden their appeal and value.
Cloud empowers removal of the ‘Tech-Debt’ of focusing spend on keeping the lights on and maintaining the status quo, allowing a refocus on innovation and progression. The understanding and reasons to adopt cloud have moved from the infancy stage to the teenage years, moving past the ‘its cheaper’ mantra often sold in the early days to a more mature position of consideration.
Today businesses may lead with cloud for a plethora of reasons from greater agility, a refocus of core efforts from keeping the lights on to focused innovation, through to making the business more attractive to the new employee economy where skilled Millennials and Z’s look to join forward thinking agile firms.
Often cloud is also adopted as a conduit to a greater flexibility where businesses are acquiring and merging and having a need to uniform processes across workforces quickly and at lower cost. Cloud makes absorption and growth easier, buy a company and extend your platforms to those users in minutes and hours, not weeks and months. Another driver comes from a need for organisational value, investors taking favour to organisations that are agile, cloud ready and utilising leading cloud brands for market advantage.
We have to remember that cloud encompasses SaaS, PaaS and IaaS alongside internal apps, so a multi-cloud approach is becoming the norm. Here customers have a breadth of options now available from traditional brand names to newer born in the cloud vendors. With exceptions, such as Oracle, most vendors play in only 1 or 2 of these cloud form factors and a mix of cloud relationships will develop for the customer.
However, the path is still not cleared for easy and fast full cloud adoption and before we enter the ‘Adult Stage’ of cloud we need to see some further progression. For example, from the burying of the legacy tech mindset, where a favour to develop and install locally often remains, protecting legacy people tech skills and accreditations, believed job security and political and emotional drivers.
Cloud is the underlying enabler for so much from Big Data, AI, IOT that long term resistance is futile and the new generation entering business will look back wondering why it took so long for the barriers to come down.