I was recently involved in two different meetings, each convened by an IT research organization focused on providing strategic advice to CIOs. My participation in each of the CIO meetings was in the form of a fireside chat with a senior analyst of the organization. Given that I’ve closely followed cloud computing over the years, the state of cloud was one of the main topics we discussed.
For a while now I’ve thought of cloud as a new model of computing in the IT world. For the IT industry, a new computing model is a very big deal. In the sixty years or so since there’s been an IT industry, this would be only the third such model, centralized and client-server computing being the two previous ones. Mainframes and PCs were the defining technologies of the centralized model and client-server models respectively.
The Internet is the defining technology of the cloud computing model. There are clearly other major technologies around us, - e.g., smartphones, IoT, analytics, AI, - but when you think about it, all of them rely on their connections to cloud-based data, applications, and services for much of their functionality.
Cloud computing has gone through three major stages over the past decade: IT-as-a-service in its initial years, then application innovation in it’s next stage, and it’s now just entering the business transformation stage. Let me say a few words about the first two before turning to business transformation.