Introducing Dr. Cloud Strategy

March 12, 2010 Appirio

Or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the cloud
Mark Koenig

As I start my new role working with the team to expand the cloud strategy practice here at Appirio, I wanted to share some thoughts on why I made the switch from the (sometimes) comfortable life of an analyst to the whirlwind world of a cloud computing start-up.

Over the last nine years, I helped build Saugatuck Technology into the leading market strategy consulting and industry analyst firm on SaaS, Cloud Computing and other disruptive technologies. At Saugatuck, I researched and wrote about the evolution of Cloud Computing. At first (this is 2003-2004 mind you) there was a huge expectation gap between what buyers wanted and what vendors said they could deliver. Over time however, that gap has closed, and regardless of what it is being called (pay-as-you-go IT, on demand, Software as a Service, cloud computing) it is clear that the cloud represents a new and powerful business model for the delivery of computing capabilities. Cloud Computing is having a game-changing impact up and down the stack, from applications to the platform layer and all the way through to infrastructure layer, which is why companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and salesforce.com are investing billions of dollars in state-of-the-art data centers and sophisticated application platforms. In short, Cloud Computing can no longer be dismissed as an SMB or a CRM phenomenon, and the impact of Cloud Computing goes beyond technology, enabling the formation of entire new businesses and industries.

At Saugatuck, I was briefed by the leading vendors driving this industry-wide disruption, from software startups who are capitalizing on the new and disruptive cloud-based business model to some legacy vendors who are now trying to catch up. These executives talked about their need for business partners who understood the business value of the cloud and who could help their customers get there – quickly and successfully.

I also had the opportunity to survey and speak with hundreds of senior business and IT executives about which applications solutions they were migrating to the cloud and why, and what they were doing to get there. Many were reluctant to begin, not knowing which solutions would be best to cut their teeth on; those that had begun talked about the challenges they faced when it came time to integrate the new cloud-based solution with their existing business processes and application architecture. They needed a cloud roadmap and business case to help them answer these questions and migrate to the cloud with confidence. Others – like this writer – expressed their fears and doubts about the readiness of the cloud for enterprise computing, only to admit in the end that cloud computing will be the dominant paradigm for enterprise IT in ten years time.

When I came across Appirio– the pieces all came together. The prospect of helping companies move to the cloud at a next-generation cloud solution provider was too compelling to pass up. The four weeks since I joined Appirio have indeed been a whirlwind:
I’d like to think there is a cause-effect relationship between these events and my decision to join Appirio, but I know better. Instead, my contributions at Appirio will focus on building our Cloud Strategy Center of Excellence. I’ll spend my time working closely with our clients and delivery teams so that we are ready to help CIOs answer the question that so many are being asked today: “What’s our Cloud Strategy?” To answer this, some CIOs will need to build a business case for migrating to the cloud, others will need a detailed roadmap, and still others will require some combination of the two. But Cloud Strategy is more than that; it goes beyond whether an application is based on- or off-premise. If we allow our customers to get away with only asking that question, then we miss the chance to help them fully leverage the potential of the cloud. I have long believed that there is more to the cloud story than better, faster and cheaper. Of course, there is nothing wrong with better, faster and cheaper, but in a time when CIOs are being asked more and more to find ways to help drive revenue growth and faciilitate organizational transformation, Cloud Computing offers plenty of opportunities to help meet those objectives as well. Take for example, the accomplishments of Appirio customers ranging from Japan Post to Author Solutions, all of whom have built game-changing and transformative solutions in the cloud over the course of the last year. And in the coming year, we expect to see more and more companies take advantage of the opportunity afforded by Cloudsourcing.

You will be hearing more from me in the coming weeks and months about our cloud strategy offerings. And as we deliver them with our customers, I hope to uncover new and creative ways to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the Cloud Computing business model and will share those success stories with you as well. In the meantime, if you are looking to build a business case-driven roadmap to the cloud, you can find me at mark.koenig@ appirio.com.

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