The longer I’m in tech, the more inclined I am to accept the truth of William Gibson’s quote: “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” I saw this firsthand with a wealthy friend, who could afford to “see the future” by buying essentially unlimited broadband, powerful servers/computers, and more, and figuring out what the world would look like when average consumers could afford the same.
Sometimes, however, cost isn’t the gatekeeper to the future, but a willingness to risk is. Such is the case with the cloud.
Google CIO Ben Fried thinks we’re nearing the tipping point for cloud computing, when CIOs determine that cloud computing’s cost and simplicity advantages outweigh other concerns like a lack of customizability, and jump in with both feet. Sure, enterprises are already using cloud services: 86 percent according to Cloudability data; 81 percent by KPMG’s survey count; and 48 percent for SMBs, according to a recent survey. But few big enterprises are using the cloud to handle the majority of their workloads.
In the future, according to Fried’s thinking, that will change.
Amazon is destined to displace big iron vendors like IBM and HP as the cloud becomes the preferred destination for enterprise computing, including mission critical workloads. Just as Linux used to be relegated to the fringe of computing but came to dominate the heart of the data center so, too, will the cloud wreak havoc on the traditional data center business.
By taking technology out of the IT equation, Fried argues that cloud computing changes the way businesses structure themselves and do business, and may even force them to change the business they’re in altogether. In many ways, cloud computing lets enterprises focus on the data that results from IT, rather than the IT itself. This is a huge shift.
This isn’t to suggest that enterprises will completely forget about servers and such, but it does mean that they’ll think about compute resources differently, and will almost certainly have to think of new ways to keep tabs on them. Companies like Boundary and Nodeable were built in the cloud for cloud resources, and focus more on surfacing actionable insights than on giving administrators or developers the tools to “spelunk” for themselves, which is inefficient and largely unnecessary in a world of semi-structured data accessed through APIs.
All of which would be a really bad idea if the cloud were just a fad. But it’s not. It’s how IT gets done going forward. And it means that the Chief Information Officer is going to need to recalibrate the way she thinks about “Information.” Namely, more a matter of “data” and less a matter of “technology.”