By now, most will agree that cloud computing is a major transformational force in the world of IT. But, cloud has not the easiest concept to grasp. Not that long ago, even people who agreed that something big and profound was going on, were not totally quite sure what it was they were excited about. “There is a clear consensus that there is no real consensus on what cloud computing is,” was the overall conclusion of a June, 2008 conference on The Promise and Reality of Cloud Computing. Cloud has continued to evolve and advance over the ensuing years. People are no longer starting their sessions by saying: “let’s define cloud computing,” said an article on a 2013 cloud conference.
I find it helpful to look at cloud along two key dimensions: as a technology to improve IT productivity, and as a platform for enabling business innovation. A 2012 survey of business and technology executives found that two thirds of respondents viewed cloud as a leading priority for their IT organizations, while one third said that it was a company-wide business priority. Only one company in six viewed cloud as a way of fostering business innovation.
An increasing number of companies are now deploying cloud-based solutions. Most are focused on improving the economics of IT. They are looking to cloud to help them expand their current offerings without major investments in additional IT infrastructure. Cloud offers financial flexibility, reducing fixed IT costs by shifting from capital to operational, pay-per-use expenses, as well as the ability to easily and economically scale business operations by provisioning IT resources on an as-needed basis. In addition, cloud can help business users become more agile and keep up with the fast pace of technological and market changes. Turning to an external cloud service provider is often a faster and less costly way of prototyping and deploying a new application than relying on the internal IT organization.