Over the past couple of years we have seen cloud become the most popular term for describing every technology offering ever created. It’s spawned countless debates over what is cloud, how important is being multi-tenant, private vs. public cloud, etc.
While the majority of the debate still rages, over the last several months we have seen a marked difference in customer engagement and areas of interest. Companies want to make the elements that describe the cloud to describe their business as well– words like efficiency, effectiveness, agility, speed and innovation are the top of every executive’s priority list. The conversation about “the cloud” has turned into a conversation about the aspirations of the business.
The focus has become on the outcome (instead of the inputs).
Now many will say “of course, it’s always been about the business, the cloud is just another technology” – but that misses the point. The hype around the cloud has raised expectations so that the same old technology can’t achieve the new level of outcomes expected by the business and users. Customers expect apps to be easy to use, available everywhere, mobile friendly, fast, and able to adapt as the environment changes. The underlying cloud technology might be necessary, but is no longer the focus.
We hear companies say things like:
- “I don’t care about multi-tenancy– I just want solutions that constantly getting better several times a year without my having to upgrade or change anything I do.”
- “I don’t care about ‘PaaS’– I just want my programmers to love it and satisfy the needs of business users who want to configure their apps quickly. And it better be mobile ready, allow me to create social and connected apps – and all of the above.”
- “I don’t care about ‘IaaS’– I just want to know we can scale up or down to handle the changing volume of users and customers in my business”
- “I don’t care if it’s in the ‘public’ cloud– I just want all of the above available to my business as a pay-as-you go subscription, without having to worry about setting it all up.”
Of course, these companies quickly learn that if you really want solutions that continuously improve, built on extensible platforms, running on scalable infrastructure, available as a subscription, then you absolutely need the underlying technology of multi-tenant, SaaS, public PaaS and IaaS. The real question that both CIOs and business leaders are asking is how to force movement beyond the incremental— how is what you are proposing going to markedly change an outcome in the business ? If you can’t translate a technology solution directly into business benefit, then it is immediate dismissed.
This actually applies to the CIO and the IT function as well: Internal technology investments must clear the bar of making IT dramatically more productive/efficient/innovative etc. – IT must itself function “as a service” in its ability to scale up or down in capabilities and apply them dynamically to the most important priorities.
Terminology around the cloud, and technical debates around what it is and isn’t are no longer able to handle the discussion around the potential for change. And that is progress!