As the economy turns the corner, we continue to see signs that investing in client computing is increasing over previous years. To some degree, this should not be surprising since as a result of the Great Recession, the IT spend was artificially low as compensation for the economy.
First, the disclaimer- all of the opinions expressed in this blog are mine and do not represent those of my employer.
As the technology refresh cycle continues, businesses are keeping an eye open for the signal that they can virtualize or move to the cloud. The new economy is an enabler for cloud computing. Many businesses have mastered the best practices levels for client computing. Therefore, the next "step change" could be either virtualization or cloud computing.
Interestingly, the driver of the change may not be the economics but what may be perceived as a non-budgetary item - agility. Here are a few scenarios that could drive your business to the cloud.
Scenario 1- Mergers and Acquisitions
Recent reporting in the press suggests that mergers and acquisitions for 2011 will be at a high level. Cloud computing and virtualization can create the back office infrastructure that could enable an agility that can make the application and infrastructure readied in a much faster timeline.
Scenario 2- Windows 7
As a part of the rigor and due diligence of deploying W7, businesses need to re-focus on the application deck. The effort to explore the readiness for cloud or virtualization may be a slight increment to the effort. The alternative is a new project to look anew at the application deck.
Scenario 3- User Segmentation
As many of you already know, I have long been an advocate for user segmentation having written on this methodology since 1999-2000 (somewhat dating myself here). With cloud computing there are rather straightforward business cases and user segments that really lend themselves to the cloud and alternative computing. Sales force automation projects come to mind as well as the office worker category as examples.
Scenario 4- Consumerization
Whether or not you believe in BYOC, it is a challenge not to think about the technology that would enable such high levels on consumerization. To become device agnostic, you need an architecture that enables. The cloud is that architecture.
Scenario 5- Vertical Industries
There are certain industry segments that will likely drive cloud computing. I believe that health care will clearly be one and many of the businesses that must contend with exponential growth and cost containment.
I offer these 5 scenarios as examples, and we all would be interested in your thoughts and comments on where and how you see this shift occurring.
The dialog about virtualization and cloud computing should not totally focus on cost. If you are at the best practice level, you likely will find 99+ reasons not to change. The rationale need to look at security, agility, speed to deploy, remote access, and these types of drivers, not only cost.
When you do look at cost, consider the outsourcing model. Do not try to look at cloud and virtualization in the 3 year window that we frequently look at client technology refresh cycles. A 5 to 7 year horizon will provide ample time to amortize any one time only costs to arrive at the true and reasonable ROI.
If your business has not seriously looked at the cloud and virtualization- now is the time. As this matures and grows in the short term, this is going to be driven by a new set of economics and business problems to be solved.