Tuesday, November 22, 2011

(empo-tymshft) Raining on the cloud

I have said before that IT philosophy swings like a pendulum between centralized and decentralized models. Time-sharing gave way to individual PCs, and then we centralized, and then we de-centralized. This week's buzzword is "the cloud," which leans toward the centralized end of things again. Whether you're talking about enterprise stuff, or you're talking about consumer stuff, the cloud offers you the wonderful capability to store things in a central location and access them from anywhere. Everyone involved in IT, with the possible exception of Ashton Kutcher, has been bombarded with cloud sales pitches.

But the praise of the cloud is not unanimous. Peter Evans-Greenwood argues that the cloud is outdated.

...the future of IT in business will be determined by the need to knit together a fabric of IT enabled services, many of which will be obtained externally. I don’t need a project portfolio management solution, I need a portfolio management capability backed by the tools and skills required to make it work. I don’t need a CRM solution (SaaS or not), I need a sales management and reporting methodology (Holden? Miller Heiman?) supported by technology to enable it to scale. It’s outside in thinking, rather than inside out.

What will the industry that accretes around this new need look like? If we look at many of the current on-demand / SaaS vendors, then they could best be described as enterprise software, but in the cloud!. Take the old model and make it multi-tennanted.

However, I don't see such a market happening - because of organizational behavior. In such a "cloud 2.0" market, you'd have all of these different services vendors who plug and play with other stuff. However, no vendor is willing to do just one thing. Remember when Oracle was a database company? Now they offer everything from hardware to vertical software packages. Why? Because Oracle belives it can make more money by offering a bigger share of the pie. If you go tell Larry Ellison to divest most of Oracle, and concentrate on making the best possible database that will be interoperable with everything else, Ellison (and Ellison's stockholders) will tell you to go pound sand.

So don't expect objects - whoops, that's an old term - to dominate the market any time soon.
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