Over the past two years I’ve watched as cloud-based offerings continue to emerge, strengthen and increasingly provide value to countless organizations. What I haven’t like is the very use of “cloud” whether it’s for cloud computing, cloud services, cloud storage, cloud-whatever. I don’t like it. The reason I don’t like it is twofold:
- clouds by their very nature are nebulous, wispy things. That concept betrays the very values and characteristics you should look for in this type of offering. Oh I know why the term cloud is used (for those who don’t the Internet itself has often been drawn as a cloud in networking diagrams. Now that services are being moved to the Internet, people equate what’s happening as your services moving on the diagram from behind your firewall and out into the cloud) but it doesn’t capture the true strength of the offering. That strength is adaptability. We’ll talk more about that in a moment.
- the second reason I don’t like cloud is that it’s too often a marketing buzz word being thrown around by vendors trying to capture the attention of senior people within organizations. Put cloud into the sales pitch and suddenly it’s trend and worth looking at (so the story goes). This hyped-up catch-all idea, The Cloud, can mislead companies into thinking they’ve hit on a panacea that will solve all their computing issues.
So adaptability? What does that mean?
Adaptable computing or services tells you right away where the value is for you and your organizations. It allows you to be nimble and provides the ability for your technical service to adapt to your business needs. That adaptability can be a number of things. It can provide a financially adaptable offering, transforming IT expenses from capital expenditures to operating costs. For many small and medium sized businesses it is less costly to go the cloud route. I’ve worked within organizations, for example, who needed VoiP telephony but couldn’t afford an on-premise option. An adaptable service, however like RingCentral provided them a robust telephony experience at a reasonable monthly cost. Another organization I assisted needed increased storage and the ability to collaborate. Setting this type of thing up internally was cost prohibitive but leveraging box.net was affordable and provided them an easy to turn on solution.
The adaptability from this type of service can be time. Both the examples I mentioned above, the VoiP telephony and the storage solution, didn’t take days and weeks to setup. Both these organization got going within hours. Both solutions can also be easily scaled up (or down) depending on the businesses’ needs. That is being adaptable.
All of this is incredibly important to businesses today. For small and medium sized businesses it’s important because it allows them to compete against the larger players. It allows them to adapt to competitive pressures. It allows them access to technology that might otherwise be too expensive to leverage in the way that they want.
Large organizations can benefit as well as they continue to find themselves in shifting market conditions which force them to make course corrections to their strategies, but often the millions of dollars in IT investment leave them unable to easily adapt IT services to changing business realities.
Approach the adaptable services (ok…call it cloud services if you must) like you would any other technology: strategically. Go through an inventory and assessment of possible technology items within your organizations that could be candidates to shift to an adaptable computing model. It isn’t a one size fits all – what works for one organization might not be the correct path for another. Plan your usage of adaptable computing strategically, and you mitigate the risk of those clear blue skies turning dark and cloudy.
– In a future post I will provide an approach for assessing possible adaptable computing offerings as well as potential pitfalls to be aware of.