Enterprise Cloud Computing – We’ve Only Just Begun!

cloudWay back in 2006 when Amazon released their first enterprise web service, S3 (Simple Storage Service), I immediately wanted in. At the time we were wracking up huge data center and hardware bills (for a small company) and storing tens of terabytes of image files. We got in the S3 early beta but didn’t get too far because we needed image processing to happen in the cloud to be cost-effective. My contact at Amazon hinted that a compute infrastructure was not long in coming.

When EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) launched in 2007, I really wanted in. The digital photo business was winding down, so there was no point. My 2008 venture, did use EC2 and S3 and we saved many thousands of dollars and hours by not having to worry about hardware. While there were countless stories of Web startups using cloud services back then, only recently have I begun to hear of enterprise applications in the cloud.

I know what you’re thinking. What about SaaS vendors like Salesforce.com with their PaaS (platform as a service) models? Yes, these are in the cloud, and fit in most people’s definition of “cloud computing.” However, for me the inflection is where enterprises are now deploying any type of application, not just those that are build as ASP or SaaS frameworks, or that require you to build into a narrow framework like sforce. Truly custom apps written in any language are not what sforce was designed for.

Now I am hearing about life sciences companies putting the cloud to work in HPC environments for drug discovery or genetic mapping. And trading firms, like Majedie Asset Management, who own or manage no physical data center assets. All of their applications – from the most trivial to the most mission-critical – live in the cloud.

There are tools providers like RightScale and Stax building deployment management environments on top of Amazon and other cloud infrastutures. There are folks like Enomaly building cloud stacks for deployment by telcos and hosting providers. There are guys likeGood Data building BI in the cloud.

Think of the opportunity! Over the next 10-15 years millions of systems now operated in-house will be ported to the cloud. An increasing number of new applications will be built specifically for cloud environments. Vendors of systems management, security, indentity and access control, databases, ERP, CRM, and most other types of IT technology will create cloud versions of their systems, and new vendors will emerge for this new environment.

There will be opportunities across all aspects of enterprise IT to profit from this wholesale shift. How will you participate?

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