In my view, the world of business IT isn't exactly jumping into cloud computing head-first. There is lots of caution out there as companies that are seeking just the right technologies to get their work done explore the smartest paths for their IT investment dollars and future strategies.
That's not a bad thing, of course. By being cautious, your company can avoid huge, expensive and momentum-stalling mistakes that could haunt your IT roadmap for years to come. At the same time, though, nothing in IT, business or life comes without some kind of risk, so playing things too safely can also blow up on you – especially if your competitors successfully take advantage of the "next big thing in IT" before you do – and run away with your customers.
And that, says independent IT analyst Krishnan Subramanian, is why enterprises need to be looking more closely at the gains they can get from the cloud for their businesses, rather than just listening to all the diverse cloud-related chatter in the marketplace.
Krishnan Subramanian, photo courtesy Krishworld.com
Skeptics talk about security worries for enterprise data in the cloud, especially in public clouds, he says, but part of that argument is just "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt" (FUD) that's often circulated by opponents of any technology or new idea.
"Part of that FUD is from traditional IT hardware vendors who tell the IT community that the cloud is not secure," Subramanian says. Those traditional IT hardware vendors could negatively see their sales and revenue affected if enterprises adopt the cloud in huge waves. "But slowly business people are realizing the benefits of the cloud and are beginning to take a second look. Also the spread of new private cloud technologies that are available are giving them more confidence to look at using public clouds today."
That kind of FUD is one of the things that's loudly being heard in enterprise IT circles nowadays, he says, which is likely inhibiting enterprises from fully exploring and embracing cloud computing today. Subramanian will help explore that very topic: "What's Inhibiting Cloud Use?" in a Focus Roundtable Webinar today with several other cloud experts.
One of the other issues inhibiting cloud adoption is a lack of transparency from cloud vendors when asked about data security and their security steps by potential customers, he says. Rather than clearly and adequately explaining exactly how a customer's data – and livelihood – will be protected in their public cloud, cloud vendors often clam up to avoid sharing their proprietary technology secrets and to maintain privacy for their other customers who are already storing their critical data on their public cloud.
"Customers want to be sure that it meets the minimum security requirements that they have in their data centers," Subramanian says. "They want access to their security processes, and vendors won't always share that."
Wider cloud adoption so far is definitely being inhibited by these kinds of issues, he says.
And that's too bad, because while all the answers about the cloud are certainly not yet in for the enterprise, the potential technology and performance gains are already quite established despite its immaturity, Subramanian says.
For the enterprise, the most important reason to be looking at the potential gains of the cloud for your business is that it can allow companies to do things much, much faster and more efficiently, compared to traditional IT processes, he says. "With the cloud, you can leverage more computing power in seconds and minutes and hours instead of in days and months and years. If you want more computing power to take a product to market, it can take weeks or months if you try creating that extra capacity in your traditional data center. You can do that fast in the cloud. You cannot achieve that same immediacy in the traditional data center setting."
Just how important is that kind of IT agility for a business today? "I would put it at 9 on scale of 1 to 10," Subramanian says. "Speed and the business agility offered by the cloud ought to be the biggest factor for any business looking at the cloud."
So what's a busy enterprise IT executive to make of all of this?
I've got to agree with Subramanian – you've got to have a little faith and look beyond the hype to see what the benefits of the cloud can be for your business. If instantaneous flexibility can dramatically help your business, then you need to investigate, know the risks and work to minimize them to get the gains that you seek.
Business agility can't be seen as just a trendy saying today. It needs to be seen as a goal for your enterprise so that you can meet the needs of your customers and grow your customer base. That's where new technologies such as the cloud can come in to help you.
Don't do it just because it's there. Do it because of what it can do for your business.
What's inhibiting your business when it comes to the cloud?
I'd love to hear and share your thoughts.