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Technocrats put your soap box away and give the Cloud a chance

If you’ve read any of my recent posts you might think that I’m not supportive of Cloud. Some have even insinuated that I might even be a detractor, deliberately trying to slow down the adoption of Cloud.

Well, it’s time for me to come clean and state for the record that I’m actually pro Cloud, yes that’s right I’m actually pro Cloud. I believe that the Cloud is a good thing that can deliver many user benefits and that the Cloud will change our industry forever.

However, I’m not a Cloud technocrat … I’m not prejudiced or biased towards Cloud vs. other delivery models. And even though I’m a technologist by profession, my real passion is for using the most appropriate technology, whatever that may be, to deliver solutions that drive customer benefit and solve real business problems.

I predict that no single model will dominate the technology roadmap and therefore I don’t support the theory that everything has to run on the Cloud. Stand alone on device applications and on device applications connected to Cloud services will continue to provide excellent pragmatic solutions to many problems for years to come. It’s clear for everyone to see their ascendency and this trend won’t change anytime soon. I also feel that the desktop as a platform for on premise applications is far from dead and that client server architectures will continue to prevail in the future in many guises.

But coming back to Cloud, I find it interesting not because of the hype, but because it offers new opportunities spanning many different technologies and operating models. The Cloud allows easier sharing of information between entities, and therefore fuels collaboration. It enables anytime any place anywhere accessibility. It lends itself to a “pay for what you eat” utility, and it offers a conduit between connected and disconnected systems and thus enables composite Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).

Today, the delivery model we hear most about in relation to Cloud is Software as a Service (SaaS) and it may come as a surprise to some to hear that I also understand and support the benefits of the SaaS model of software delivery. Its great for some things but its not a panacea for all things and so I’ve been a tad critical of those who try to ram the “SaaS is the only Cloud delivery model” down everyone’s throat. To those people I would suggest they:  

Go speak to an IT director and they may tell you they’re looking to move some of their internal systems to the cloud in conjunction with one of the many Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform providers. What’s the most pragmatic way to approach this… demand that they must throw out all of the systems that they have acquired and customised over a period of time to meet their business needs and replace them with a whole suite of “not anywhere near like for like” SaaS equivalents… or help them on the journey by suggesting they look at virtualisation as a first step, i.e. their existing systems work as they always have… no retraining, no costly redoing of system integration, they’re just hosted in the cloud, and then gradually move to SaaS and other forms of Cloud on a business needs basis.

Or go speak to an ISV developing mobile software or an iPad developer who is accessing data and a business service running on the Cloud and they may tell you the future as far as they are concerned is all about utilising the best of both worlds. It’s all about applications developed specifically for a device that leverages all the power of the device (not just a web browser running on the device), connected to highly scalable services running in the Cloud that fully utilise the power of the Cloud.

These are only two examples of how businesses want to use the Cloud that don’t involve SaaS, and there are many more. You don’t have to look far to see there is lots of great work and innovation going on around Cloud. So, how come I keep coming across the suggestion that the Cloud isn’t being adopted fast enough and how this is down to traditional vendors of on-premise software deliberately slowing down the adoption of Cloud?

Well, more and more I wonder if Cloud adoption is actually being hindered rather than helped by those who believe they are trying to promote Cloud by demanding that “if you want to be Cloud you have to be SaaS”, and that you have to be prepared to share your “sensitive business” information in the same database as others whether you like it or not.

I’m not normally one for controversy, but… “Demanding you have to be SaaS to be Cloud is a crazy suggestion”… even if it was sensible, and I for one don’t think it is, it would take decades to convert the plethora of applications that businesses use today to SaaS applications, by which time the cloud will have passed us by… and we’ll be onto the next major trend.

So, technocrats … you know who you are … put your soap box away and give the Cloud a chance.

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