What’s really up in the cloud?

Posted on June 7, 2011

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The majority (60 percent) of UK small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are focused on improving existing IT systems and processes in order to find efficiencies, instead of buying new systems.

As a result, says a survey, they have forsaken new technologies built around cloud delivery, for instance.

from June 4th, 2011 Computerworld UK article SMBs ‘forsaking the cloud’ in the downturn

Okay, what’s up with the cloud . . . or in the cloud?

On one hand you have the GSA recently announcing a $2.5 billion RFQ to implement five critical cloud-based services or solutions, while on the other hand you have a June 4th article in Computerworld UK proclaiming that SMB’s are forsaking the cloud?!?

As covered in an earlier Procurement Insights post (GSA $2.5 Billion Cloud Computing Procurement RFQ: Real Opportunity or a Mirage for SME Vendors), the GSA RFQ actually creates opportunities for SMBs or SMEs, yet it seems that SMEs are eschewing cloud-based implementations themselves in favor of improving existing ERP systems.  Sounds like a do as we say, not as we do kind of logic.

Perhaps when faced with an apparent disconnect such as this it is best to take a step back and return to the basics such as what is cloud computing.

Discounting Larry Ellison’s nonsensical rantings, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the U.S. Department of Commerce agency defines cloud computing as:

a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g. networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.  This cloud model promotes availability and is composed of five essential characteristics, three delivery models , and four deployment models.

What does this really mean?

To start, I am one who agrees with Greystone Group’s Peter Fingar when he writes that cloud computing is a disruptive delivery model that represents an economic versus technological shift.  In other words we have to get out of this mindset that all that is new and innovative is somehow centered on technological breakthroughs in terms of a tangible product versus a method of interactive capability that is adaptive to the way we work in the real world.

In this regard, the concept of improving existing systems (re tangible products or platforms) as described in the Computerworld UK article is tantamount to putting new tires on a rusted out junkyard car . . . you are ultimately not going to get anywhere.  A conclusion that takes on an even greater relevancy and irony given that the SMEs main focus is to build on their exiting ERP technology as a means to integrate more back office applications with familiar desktop applications like Microsoft Office, as well as customer relationship management (CRM) with other departmental systems such as accounts.  Can anyone say DUET?

In the end, integration such as what the GSA is striving to achieve is best accomplished within the framework of a cloud-based architecture, as is the SME objective. It would appear however, that the big difference today, is that the SME innovators are the ones with feet of clay, while the traditional belt with suspenders crowd are the ones that are embracing the new reality of real-world, real-time integrative capability.

Who would have thunk it?

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Posted in: Commentary