In the spirit of “I never make predictions and I never will” This blog looks at some of the possible consequences of Cloud computing.
Part 1 – Summary of some of the factors affected by Cloud Computing
Cloud computing throws all the issues of traditional IT up in the air and creates a level playing field. Small companies can make use of the same resources as the largest Global enterprise – on a “pay as you go” or even free model the only difference is in scale of use rather than installation. The cost of entry is significantly reduced. Small companies get access to enterprise level technology and reduce capital expenditure. This could also be a big benefit to people developing countries who could in theory run a large enterprise class IT from a computer with a broadband connection – assuming they can get access to a broadband connection – Google is helping with this however.
Cloud computing and IT as a service reduces development and implementation time and costs and facilitates fast delivery. It is no longer necessary to wait for delivery, install, configure, maintain, support and update traditional on-site services instead you can point a browser at a supplier and configure your service – it is a lot, lot faster. In theory at least, cloud services can be changed, expanded and shrunk as required and new services created by “stitching” together existing and new services.
Innovation often takes you down a dead end and the cost in time and money often put people off from innovation – it is safer to follow known working models than to risk early advantage. Cloud computing and IT as a service reduces the resources used to innovate so that the consequences of failure are smaller.
Where once the Internet was used as a communications channel between “islands” of business, systems and people it can now be used to host systems and business. Collaboration and interoperation through firewalled systems is a problem – interoperation is a lot easier and natural in the cloud environment.
Traditional IT has been centred on physical location and protected from the internet by firewalls. Such systems are well suited to tradition where people travel to work at organisational premises. Providing flexible external access under these conditions has been difficult – usually by allowing increasing numbers of staff external access to internal resources by use of a VPN which goes through the firewall which protects the internal systems from the Internet. Physical location loses meaning when you use cloud computing – the services are on the Internet – it doesn’t matter where you access them from.
Through mass market scale and consumer interest in computing the cost of computers has dropped considerably. Where computer companies once looked at Business as customers they now look at consumers and as a result most business IT is now driven by consumer trends. Consumers want to operate their IT equipment like gadgets – turn them on and use them – they don’t want to difficult configuration and setup and to worry about security and updates. The proportion of device cost taken by software becomes increasingly difficult hardware cost continues to fall – when a device might cost just £200 it seems difficult to then pay another £200 for software.
Internet growth itself could be argued as an example of the network effect as more people use it the more useful it becomes and the more people use it and the more it expands. Cloud computing depends upon highly available reliable Internet connections – people and organisations will be prioritising their Internet connections – this alone will add to growth in Internet availability
Part 2 – The predictions
As the Internet mediates more of our experience we should expect a step change as we live our lives more in Internet time.
Things will change faster (when faster is the new fast) as the cloud and Internet enable things to be done so much quicker than in traditional ways.
Competition will be keener than ever before as smaller organisations can compete effectively with larger organisations in certain sectors – especially in innovative new service delivery.
We should expect to see remarkable product and service innovations as barriers to innovation are lowered the speed and ability to innovate improved.
We should expect to see an explosion in collaboration of all kinds – between systems (Mashups), people and organisations.
Cloud based systems operate outside traditional firewalled “island” systems and we should expect to see the concept of company and organisational operation challenged.
We should expect to see growth in flexible remote working – a “de-location” or work , life and service as it becomes less necessary to be within the premises of a company to work for that company.
We should expect cheaper and easier to use Internet access devices from traditional laptop and mini laptop style units to more consumer oriented gadget type units as well amazingly functional smartphone units – there will be more “plug, play and go” and a growth in non Microsoft software and new software types.
We should expect to pervasive Internet access. As device costs fall and Internet access improves we should expect to see all manner of devices and gadgets with Internet access and we should increasingly expect to get on-line anywhere anytime – hyperconnectivity.
The trends above interact in a positive feedback loop style so that the changes become ever faster. If network effects are present then as more people collaborate and innovate faster then change will happen faster and faster.
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