I have written, with two colleagues, an article for Accenture’s Outlook journal which introduces the idea of the Cloud Corporation:
Accenture Outlook: The coming of the cloud corporation.
The article discusses various trends in outsourcing which will impact upon Cloud (and vice versa).
Cloud computing remains focused on cost cutting achieved through new technology, however lessons from the past suggest that this is only a minor part of the disruptive innovation which Cloud may offer. In particular we should not ask “what is cloud computing?” but rather “why is cloud computing?” – in essence exploring the pressures on innovation today which resonate with the idea of utility computing.
While the cost saving is an important incremental innovation on existing practices, it is cloud’s potential to allow new forms of organisational collaboration which offer the potential of radical innovation. Moving the data-centre outside the organisation asks us to evaluate the relationship between the data-centre and the organisation. Is it “ours” to horde and control, or are parts of it able to be shared, opened, exploited by others (partners, customers, suppliers etc)? In turn does this opening of the relationship between the organisation and its information recast the organisation itself?
I want to argue that our current categorisation of “Public and Private” cloud is inappropriate. Instead I want to propose a categorisation of “Inside and Outside” cloud.
Public and Private clouds imply a strict boundary between the organisation and the internet. The organisation is hidden behind a private firewall, while the outside is public.
But in reality everything sits within the cloud – including the enterprise. Using the cloud is not either-or but can be a hybrid. For example I met this week with Peter Cowley, ex MD of New Media at Endermol (makers of TV shows such a “Big Brother”). He pointed out that Endermol for some projects would ship everything possible to the cloud (video, pictures, pages), but where personal information or critical information was used, the cloud services would hook back to an internal server. This internal server would be basic – supplying only simple HTML pages on the data, but would be integrated into the complex Cloud offering seamlessly. My Hybrid cloud is neither public nor private – it is a mix between inside and outside.
Similarly by thinking about “private clouds” internally – for internal users – we are focusing too heavily on the boundary of the enterprise. This limits options – for example allowing an outside supplier to capitalise on the “Inside Cloud” to offer new services to staff or outside customers. For example in Telecos the internal fabric of the business (the network) might allow outside companies to run applications on it as a platform. For example an innovative ConferenceCall system – hosted within the Telcos “Inside Cloud” might be offered to the public – not exactly public, but neither private.
(see Creeger,M (2010) “CTO Roundtable: Cloud Computing” , Communications of the ACM, 52(8) p 50-56 for more details on the Telecoms case study).