Cloud computing is your IT destiny
In the dystopian movie, "Waterworld," the late Dennis Hopper played the Deacon who was leading his followers aboard the rusting hulk of the Exxon Valdez in search of dry land. During one of his "pep rallies" for the faithful, he proclaimed that "Dry land is not just our destination, it is our destiny!"Your journey to the "dry land" of cloud computing is not just the next destination for IT, it is the destiny of IT. The problem is many IT practitioners view cloud computing as just another technical advance that IT will adopt until the next big thing comes along.You can spot these people by their language when they talk about the cloud. They say that the cloud is just mainframe computing or a new version of thin client computing. They regard the cloud as just one more technical development they will have to master in the course of their careers.You should be careful if people like this are advising you on your use of cloud computing in your business because they haven't cultivated the proper mindset.In order to understand that cloud computing is your IT destiny, you should appreciate that cloud computing is different from just implementing a technical solution. IT practitioners are familiar with so-called point solutions, which can be defined as using software and/or hardware to solve one particular problem without regard to related issues. If they believe that cloud computing is just another point solution to be applied to whatever they are doing, they are making a conceptual mistake.What they don't grasp is that cloud computing represents the restructuring of what it is that IT does in an organization, which is to provide information services that are consumed internally by an organization and externally by its customers.Cutting costsCloud computing differs from traditional IT by using economies of scale, publishing a catalog of service offerings and automating the provisioning of those service offerings in the core areas of infrastructure, software development and applications. It is so unlike traditional IT that it constitutes an entirely new model for the use of information services.If IT is to be restructured based on the use and delivery of services in the cloud, how does it get there? Well, there's an old saying in New Hampshire that goes, "You can't get there from here." In other words, you can't get IT to the cloud without breaking your ties to legacy applications and the one-off provisioning of new services.Every packaged software application running on your premises is a candidate for replacement by a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application in the cloud. This is how you cut your ties and the cost of running packaged applications on premises.Custom applications will need to be rewritten for the cloud. The only exception will be applications that for very specific reasons have to remain on premises. In most cases, applications like this will be in a minority.Not only will your IT operations be restructured by your adoption of cloud computing, so will your IT spending. Budgets will change from being based on fixed IT costs, which you can't control, to being based on variable costs that you can control. Your total IT spending may increase or decrease, but your IT spending flexibility and control will improve. Why? Because cloud computing makes your IT spending more granular and transparent.Fixed-cost IT budgets tend to obscure what you are paying for because they are usually developed using numbers that can't be easily disaggregated. The granularity of cloud services makes it relatively easy to determine what any particular information infrastructure service or development service or application service is costing.Cloud services that are not needed can be identified and shut down. The cloud services you are using can be easily expanded or contracted due to the cloud's high level of service automation. Your internal challenge will be to be to stay in touch with what you are spending on your cloud services by monitoring your costs on a continuous basis.What you will gain is more flexibility in your IT spending, which will increase your ability to respond quickly to changes in the market for your products or services. You can use the cloud to decrease your time-to-market for new products or services. By using the cloud, your customers can become partners in improving your products and services. Your IT people will have less to do with the nuts and bolts of technology and more to do with orchestrating the use of the cloud to create success in your business.Cloud computing is not just our destination, it is our destiny.Tim Wessels, cloud navigator at Oort Cloud Computing, Rindge, has worked with small and medium-sized businesses for over 25 years.