Category: Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Will mHealth Finally Kill the Cliché? | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Healthcare IT has long been accused of being 10 years behind other industries, with hospitals being another five years behind that. This cliché has been around for so long, it is almost an axiom. And while (like with most clichés) there is, unfortunately, more than a bit of truth, we firmly believe that with the growing push and pull demands of healthcare mobility, this cliché’s days are numbered.

Mobility in healthcare will place demands on IT that will both force upgrades and elevate IT’s business impact in ways never seen before – thus making upgrade funding possible. Just a few examples:

  • mHealth applications that can enable direct entry, which boosts clinician productivity and revenue potential
  • Gamification that provides uniquely engaging ways to distill care information and entice people into improved wellness
  • Cost savings, and patient comfort benefits, from remote viewing and remote sensors

Clearly, mobility will strain existing capabilities on not only wireless infrastructure but also servers and most substantially the data integration structures, in order to provide timely and accurate information as individuals move within facilities and across the country. Thus, the push is on to update and upgrade IT.

But while there have always been “pushes” on IT (demand always exceeds budgets), what makes us optimistic that the upgrades will actually begin to catch-up with other industries is the emerging “pull” from the business side of healthcare. A recent anecdote well illustrates this potential for IT transformation. A nursing home/assisted living operator approved a system-wide installation and upgrade across its facilities to support mobile data entry. Given the tight margins and the very thin IT budgets (typically less than one percent of revenue), this major initiative was demanded and funded by clinical operations, and cost justified by a one percent increase in therapist billable hours.

As this and the other examples above suggest, there are major direct business benefits from instituting robust and useful healthcare mobility.

Cloud Computing is not a Technology….But an Idea with Different Meanings | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Following are just a few of the many definitions you will find for cloud computing in technology publications, forums, blogs, etc.

“Cloud computing is scaling infrastructure on-demand within minutes or seconds.”

“Cloud computing is the shift from a single-tenant software development model to a multi-tenant, multi-network model.”

“Cloud computing is a broad array of web-based services providing a wide range of functional capabilities on a pay-as-you go basis.”

“Cloud computing is transformation of the physical layer to software based virtualization.”

“Cloud computing allows people to access technology-enabled services over the Internet.”

“Cloud computing is everything as a service. Grid computing, SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, etc.”

One of my favorites is:

“There sure is a lot of confusion when it comes to talking about cloud computing. Yet, it does not need to be so complicated. There really are only three types of services that are cloud based: SaaS, PaaS, and cloud computing platforms.”

Reading all these varying definitions, it would appear that cloud computing is everything but the kitchen sink. But I think it’s important that we view cloud computing as what it really is – an idea or a concept on which technologies are built – just like the Internet, which means different things to different suitors depending on the context in which it is being defined.

Is cloud computing as revolutionary as the Internet? It’s hard to say because it’s still evolving, but in my opinion it holds lots of promise. Just as technologies, such as TCP/IP, BGP, OSPF, MPLS, etc., were built on the idea of the Internet, we will see new technologies emerging with the idea of cloud computing.

The Internet has evolved over the years, and everyone conceptually knows what it is. Yet I would never tell a CIO that he or she should move its business to the Internet.

In that same vein, I think we need to reorient the discussion of cloud computing with CIOs to avoid any more confusion. Talk about the technologies that make cloud computing possible. Talk about multi-tenancy, virtualization, dynamic provisioning, storage technologies, unified fabric, etc., and those are just the beginning.

Start a discussion with a CIO with something like, “Are you ready for IT transformation based on new technologies?” That will get the conversation moving in the right direction, with no confusing or constrictive preconceptions.

The Best of IaaS is Still in the Making | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Most people out there consider IaaS the “dog” of all the cloud computing layers, given its low margins, tough competition and gradual commoditization. However, one thing that is going well for IaaS is that its position as the building block of cloud computing. That makes IaaS the starting point for large enterprise’s consideration of transition to the cloud.

Now, IaaS is turning out to be a new turf war between the cable and network providers. Verizon purchased Terremark, CenturyLink picked up Savvis, Time Warner acquired Navisite, and  AT&T might be a little anxious to go shopping as well with all this commotion. That is signaling consolidation in the cloud provider space. It will be interesting to see how the cloud pioneers and startups  can continue to remain independent in the battle between the behemoths for capturing the attention of large buyers for cloud deployments. As the consolidation progresses, PaaS and SaaS providers like Google and Salesforce.com will need to find partners among the cable and network providers to be part of the discussion with the clients.

We are moving towards an oligopolistic industry in which the providers must better understand and respond to the needs of buyers in their respective industry verticals like healthcare, education etc.,  for prospects to warm up to the idea of leveraging the cloud. (For more insights, please read our recent blog, “Talking the Talk, but not Walking the Walk, in the Cloud”.) Network providers and IT service providers are going to have to urgently fill this vacuum. With many small players trying to race to the top by claiming to be everything to everyone, it’s difficult to meet the custom needs of a vertical business or entity.

What does all this mean for legacy IT service providers like HP, IBM, Cisco, and EMC? They must be happy, as they are receiving some relief around the price wars and commoditization of hardware infrastructure like servers and storage, as the telecom and cable operators will go to a familiar source for their hardware needs.

IaaS providers must be enjoying the attention they are receiving all over again, as PaaS and SaaS providers have had their fair share of the limelight.

What do you think will happen in the IaaS space?

Going Mobile… | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

A few weeks ago I committed to exploring the mobile world. And while I’m not a neophyte – my Blackberry is strapped to my belt and, according to my wife, my addiction to constant email connections is worse than a two pack a day habit – I’m still not a truly mobile convert. Yet, my conversion to date is inconsistent as I aspire to engage in intensive web surfing (remember, I have a Blackberry), triple digit smart phone apps, and alas, a connected tablet in lieu of my laptop.

So, how is it going?

[Feel free to insert your favorite “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” joke here.]

I’m typically a relatively early adopter, but not necessarily a gadget freak. However, I accused Apple of just enlarging the iPhone – nay, an iPod Touch – when it introduced the iPad. Thus, my pilot in a completely wireless connected world is somewhat of a stretch.

The biggest change (read, challenge) I’ve encountered so far is doing without a keyboard and mouse, and surviving as much as possible with a touch screen tablet. However, pecking this out on my iPad suggests that I’m making some progress.

In the plus column, consuming or reviewing content is extraordinary. The instant on, always connected convenience is great. In fact, if I had to summarize in a single word the impact of mobility today, CONVENIENCE represents the best synthesis of value add. Even the wiz bang new capabilities such as iCloud have their greatest utility along this dimension.

However, the mobile experience is not devoid of frustration:

  • Creating content is painful, especially for business communications. Today’s mobile devices and apps are consumption-oriented, not creation-oriented.
  • Finding an app that does what you need is difficult. The popularity of mobile apps and the apparent ease with which they can be developed is both a boon and a curse. Word of mouth seems to be the most effective way to find really useful apps, but even then personal preferences and specific needs have often sent me down a path of frustration and further hunts for something to get the job done. (I’m open for suggestions on “app managers” that facilitate this search – I’m sure they are out there…)
  • Getting help is elusive. Although many apps and interaction models are extremely intuitive, trying to do something slightly nonstandard is decidedly nontrivial. Finding relevant help is not easy – even Apple’s websites for help are beautiful to look at, but quite thin on useful content.
  • None of the devices have really cracked the code. The iPad’s handling of multi-tasking is clunky. RIM’s Playbook shines on the multi-tasking front…would that it had more than a couple useful apps! And I’m still TBD on my Android experience, as I eagerly await shipment of a KindleFire in a few weeks.

Going mobile hasn’t yet changed my life, yet. I still relapse to my laptop to create rich content (of course some of my colleagues will undoubtedly quibble with its richness, regardless of the device on which it was created). But I do see the potential for game-changing opportunities around global services:

  • Data collection. I sense that the ability of mobile devices to collect relevant, context-sensitive data has the potential to have astonishing impact. Those who harness the ability to leverage mobility to collect the right data, and avoid being overwhelmed with huge volumes of inconsequential data, are likely to unlock great value.
  • Interactivity. The convenience factor will drive (actually, is driving) greater use across an ever-widening breadth of activities. This intensity of use creates a heretofore unknown opportunity for interaction, real-time feedback, and truly personalized response. The opportunities are unbounded.
  • Ease of use. Comparing the ease of use of most mobile solutions with their non-mobile counterparts isn’t a fair fight. The selection and ease of purchase, installation, and use (generally conforming to expectations) of the mobile experience is – again – convenient on a different scale than alternatives. This will compel consumers (individual or corporate) to use the solutions, and the marketplace to continue to innovate with broader and deeper capabilities.
  • Innovation model. Fast. Responsive. Cheap. Most mobile apps subscribe to these design and development principles, fueling innovation based on rapid feedback on actual use. Lots of minor changes to reflect real usage, rather than perceived needs, results in enormous benefits for developers and users alike (although, as noted above, finding the right fit is often more frustrating than productive).

What do you think the impacts will be on global services?

IaaS: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, or Just Evolution in Progress? | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Our discussions with CIOs of large enterprises have made it clear they are seeking cloud-based infrastructure services (Infrastructure-as-a-Service, or IaaS). However, recent interactions we have had with a variety of service providers – name brand firms and cloud upstarts alike – revealed that the answers enterprise buyers receive from providers about their offerings are all over the map. Indeed, the answers sometimes even differ across proposed solutions from different solutioning teams from the same provider. The alignment of service offerings fit with cloud principles is often quite mixed; for example:

  • Term. Proposals ranged from multi-year contracts with take-or-pay minimums to selling IaaS on an hourly basis with no volume commitments whatsoever.
  • Service levels. Proposals ranged from “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” to traditional “let’s negotiate” SLAs.
  • Pricing models. Proposals ranged from pure consumption-based pricing to approaches with very substantial fixed base load requirements and little ability to scale downward to hybrid models with fixed and variable components.

Two other observations left us puzzled by service providers’ go-to-market positioning. First, (although not a definitive pattern) is what could be interpreted as some “traditional” service providers trying to overlay a cloud veneer on their offerings (contractual camouflage?) to play in a rapidly growing space. And second, some of the cloud pioneers that possess robust cloud services delivery capabilities are fogging the picture by building decidedly non-cloud features into their solutions, apparently in an attempt to look more like traditional outsourcing players.

Neither of these approaches appear to be particularly appealing to enterprise buyers, and understandably so. The enterprises are often implementing near-term roadmaps that address their organizations’ need for a mix of environments –dedicated, private, and private/public hybrid cloud that fit their distinctive workload characteristics and business needs. But providers are presenting little clarity on how their IaaS solutions support the buyers’ end state models or contractual requirements.

Service providers must tune their offerings to the situation and offer real cloud-based solutions when that is the “ask,” and traditional solutions when such are indicated. Enterprises need to ensure they clearly define their roadmaps to discern when a solution fits and when it doesn’t. When either the providers or the enterprises try to blend what they are trying to accomplish, they are likely to end up with a cocktail that could leave those on the other side of the transaction with a hangover.

Talking the Talk, but not Walking the Walk, in the Cloud | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Over the last two months, we have visited with more than 50 Fortune 500 firms to discuss their thoughts about adopting and harnessing the disruptive technologies and services that are driving the next generation of IT. Inevitably, our conversations focused on the cloud and its potential impact on the price point and flexibility of IT delivered and consumed at the enterprise level.

But most of the firms we met with expressed disappointment in the support they are currently receiving from their incumbent hardware and software providers. We heard time and again that the providers are eager to engage in conversations (often confusing and contradictory) about the power and relevance of the cloud, and each pointed to the groundbreaking products and services they have, or soon will. However, when it came to presenting an actionable roadmap to for planning and/or actually implementing production-ready solutions, the providers launched a major back-peddle. They suggested that despite the hype, the client was already close to best practice, as it was well down the road to virtualization, or that the offerings were not appropriate for firms of its size or industry. If pushed further, the providers stated that the solutions under consideration were not practical because of security and or regulatory issues.

What’s going on?

It is clear that most large enterprises are giving serious thought to actively adopting cloud-based solutions for at least some of their workloads. And fearing they will be left in the dust by the new breed of cloud-specific competitors – including Rackspace, Amazon, and Savas – the incumbents feel they must, at a minimum, engage in conversations with their clients about cloud. When pushed to deliver a public/private cloud solution, the major hardware and software providers are investing considerable time and money on solutions with unacceptable quality, performance and/or resilience. They also lack the internal expertise to implement the new solutions. Perhaps most troubling for the incumbents is that they face a huge conflict of interest as the next generation of IT solutions replaces the existing infrastructure at a fraction of the cost and, hence, dramatically cuts into the providers’ revenue.

In short, their strategy is to obfuscate, delay and criticize. And while enterprises are looking to their existing providers for leadership, and would much prefer to have one familiar throat to choke, the frustrating and confusing conversations they are having with their current incumbents is driving them further into the waiting arms of the challengers that have, solid offerings, real capabilities, and strong value propositions.

Financing Your Way to the Cloud | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Just as the dot-com era required an overhaul of financial and funding models, today’s clouding computing revolution is also challenging the status quo of traditional financing. Indeed, with so many uncertainties about the cloud looming in the minds of potential buyers, coupled with challenges in obtaining credit, the technology vendors in all cloud computing areas (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS) are quickly realizing that to facilitate the transition to the cloud they need to step up to the plate and streamline and overhaul their financial arms. And this means establishment of capital entities, e.g., Cisco Capital, HP Financial Services, etc.

Ultimately, we’ll see levels of standardization among cloud-focused funding models. But until then, technology providers are developing and offering customized financing structures for key customers to enable them to meet their Capex budget requirements. The offerings include on pay-as-you-grow or pay-as-you-go bases for server/hour and RAM/hour computing.

The upside of these new financing models is initially for buyers, as they make it more palatable for CIOs, who would otherwise be thinking and sitting on the fence, to transition faster to the cloud. In the short term, however, they are having an adverse affect on cloud technology vendors’ financial statements, as they cannot immediately recognize the revenue for hardware and software sales. And this will make it appear that margins and revenues are distressed. But as the financial analysts at investment banks gain greater understanding of the nature of the cloud computing business, they will gradually rewrite the rules on how they financially evaluate cloud computing providers.

But we all need to hope that the financial analysis done for the cloud computing business is done right. Remember Kozmo.com? It was a company with a doomed business plan, but it was still able to attract millions of dollars in capital. We don’t want to go back to a time where capital is committed based on the promise of the business but which makes little financial sense.

In our next blog, we will talk about the operational and financial challenges technology vendors face in rolling out these new business models.

New Accounting Rules to Make You Safer in the Cloud – the End of SAS 70 | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

As we all know, when you outsource services to a third-party provider, its risks become your risks. This was already a significant area of concern for clients and potential clients before the advent of cloud computing, and apprehension about the safety of their and their clients’ data has probably been the biggest barrier to the adoption of the cloud to date. However, the adoption of new accounting standards for reporting on service providers’ control environments should help reduce cloud client concerns.

Background

In 1992, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) issued Statement on Auditing Standards 70, Service Organizations, commonly referred to as SAS 70. SAS 70 was intended to be an auditing framework and process for a service provider to deliver to its customers a report on how its control environment could potentially impact its customers’ financial statement reporting. In the ensuing years, as organizations have become increasingly concerned about compliance and operational risks, SAS 70 has often been misused as an assurance regarding a service provider’s controls around security, privacy, and operations. As SAS 70 was NEVER intended to do this, its use for this purpose actually placed clients at greater risk. The emergence of cloud computing has amplified this abuse, with vendors routinely integrating claims of “SAS 70 compliant” and “SAS 70 certified” into their sales and marketing IP.

The AICPA recognized the problems that could result from this misuse of SAS 70, and has taken steps to establish new rules and reporting frameworks to address all aspects of a service provider’s controls environment, not just those that might impact the integrity of financial reporting. Last year it introduced Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements 16, Reporting on Controls at a Service Organization, referred to as SSAE 16, as well as a framework for reporting on Service Organization Controls for service provider organizations. The AICPA mandated suppliers officially comply as of June 15, 2011. Although SSAE 16, as did SAS 70, only focuses on controls that impact client financial statement integrity, it incorporates several improvements. These include, but are not limited to, a focus on the service provider’s system of controls versus the vaguer concept of controls, and requirement of a written attestation from the service provider’s management. The new framework consists of three different Service Organization Control (SOC) Reports, as described below:

SOC Reports

Just as with SAS 70, there are two types of SOC reporting engagements. In a type 1, the auditor attests that the system or systems were suitably designed as of a specific point in time. In a type 2 engagement, the auditor attests that the systems or systems were operating effectively over a specified time period. Only SOC 1 or SOC 2 reports can be issued in a type 2 engagement.

Summary and Recommendations

The AICPA has done the global services industry a big favor by replacing SAS 70 with its new service organization controls framework. If clients develop a firm grounding in this new framework and its reporting options, they can utilize it to significantly decrease their risk in transferring any type of work to a service provider. When you consider the increased risks related to data security, privacy, and operational integrity involved with moving work to a cloud service provider, the benefits are amplified. This may provide those not previously comfortable with the concept of public or hybrid cloud computing services with a large enough comfort level to reconsider their options.

Given that there are multiple types of engagements and reporting options, there are myriad potential options for leveraging this new controls reporting framework. Thus, global services buyers need to understand and carefully consider their options. At a minimum, cloud services buyers should expect at least SOC 1 and SOC 3 reports based on a type 1 engagement. If they are moving work that involves high volumes and/or significant operational risk, they should go for SOC 1 and SOC 2 reports based on a type 2 engagement. And a word to the wise for those considering the cloud – attain proof that potential providers are SSAE compliant or certified, and be wary of those still touting SAS 70 credentials.

Notes from the Interop NYC 2011 Carrier Cloud Forum | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

I had the good fortune to participate in a lively panel discussion at this week’s Interop NYC Carrier Cloud Forum on the topic of Enterprise Expectations for Cloud Services. My co-panelists were Troy Angrignon of Cloudscaling, and Charlie Burns of Saugatuck Technology, and the moderator was Carol Wilson from Light Reading. We covered a pretty broad waterfront, discussing everything from the state of enterprise cloud adoption to enterprise perceptions of telcos/carriers as potential cloud service providers. Some of the more interesting exchanges focused on the following points:

  • The market noise is getting deafening – one of the biggest emerging obstacles to enterprise cloud adoption is actually the market confusion being created around what cloud is (and isn’t). Every enterprise IT vendor, including hardware, software or services, is pitching a cloud story, whether it actually has capabilities or not. The vendor marketing onslaught is making it extremely difficult for CIOs to separate truth from fiction, and in many cases is slowing down efforts to drive migration. The good news? This is a purely self-inflected wound from a cloud industry perspective, and it should sort itself out over time. The bad news? In the short term, some CIOs are starting to tune out, or at least very skeptical in engaging in yet another vendor discussion around cloud.
  • It’s all about business agility – on the topic of what ultimately will be the primary driver of enterprise cloud migration, there was some healthy debate around the importance of the cost efficiency value proposition to enterprises. While we all generally agreed that business agility and flexibility was going to be the dominant theme, there were differing perspectives on how important a compelling cost reduction component was going to be. Some think agility alone will be enough, while others (including me) believe that overall cost improvements of 30+ percent will be required to get the attention of enterprise CIOs and to drive wide-scale transformation, particularly in infrastructure.
  • Cloud security is often more about IT job security – Charlie Burns made the great observation that enterprise concerns around data security often have more to do with IT executives’ anxiety about their future roles, and less to do with actual cloud security. Major cloud service providers have matured quite a bit when it comes to security, and the major enterprise issue now has more to do with transparency than the actual security policies and practices being implemented by providers.
  • Significant market “white space” still exists – we agreed that enterprises view the network as a critical component of cloud services and that carriers have a strong “card to play” as enterprise cloud emerges. Rather than focusing on horizontal IaaS services, carriers may be better off identifying specific solution areas and use cases where network ownership could create strategic differentiation and advantage – for example, use cases in which high availability or bandwidth are critical. While we all recognized the challenges of carriers entering more horizontal IaaS or PaaS markets from scratch, Troy gave an interesting example of how Cloudscaling has recently helped KT launch cloud IaaS services in Asia that were priced 30 percent lower than Amazon AWS.

Thanks again to Troy, Charlie, and Carol for a great discussion!

Photo Credit: Interop Events

Enterprise Cloud Migration: What if We’re All Wrong? | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

This blog originally appeared on Sandhill.com. Read the original post.


Current conventional wisdom suggests that enterprise adoption of cloud services will accelerate as service providers and offerings become more “mature” and “enterprise friendly.” Adoption will grow and extend beyond initial test/dev website, and backup use cases as enterprises become more comfortable with cloud services. The common belief is that, over time, cloud will in fact become a strategic component of most IT environments but that it will be a decade-long (if not longer) transition. Most also believe that data security, privacy, and audit issues significantly constrain some verticals such as healthcare and financial services from effectively migrating in the near term, particularly to cloud platform and infrastructure services.

But as we discover far too frequently, conventional wisdom often turns out to be quite wrong. While adoption rates for new technologies tend to be overestimated in the short term and underestimated in the long term, it’s an interesting exercise to think about the factors and unexpected developments that could dramatically accelerate enterprise migration to the public cloud.

Let’s consider some of the basic assumptions many in the market make around enterprise and the cloud.

What if enterprises architect around SLAs?

The terms of many current cloud service provider SLAs are effectively meaningless. The burden of proof often falls on the user to fully document service interruptions and outages. Even if proven, compensation for violations often equates to a slap on the wrist at best. But what if enterprises come to the conclusion that SLAs are the wrong way to think about ensuring availability?

The highly visible Amazon outage in its Northern Virginia data center in April resulted in significant interruption and service degradation for users of Quora and FourSquare, while other websites and companies appeared to suffer no impact. The reason? Availability through redundancy. Rather than relying on SLAs, many unaffected companies simply architected redundancy through failover approaches that rolled to other Amazon data centers or service providers. What if enterprises decide that pushing cloud service providers on SLAs is akin to beating a dead horse and, instead, simply decide to take the SLAs as a given and architect around them?

What if enterprises standardize to conform to cloud service provider offerings?

Enterprises historically have been addicted to IT customization – both in what they buy, and how they buy it. Service providers that weren’t willing to modify offerings, pricing, or contract terms for large enterprise buyers were quickly shown the door. Many believe that enterprises will never migrate to cloud services that are essentially “take it or leave it” propositions to the customer.

Yet in many cases, enterprises have driven customization in processes, applications, and services that in fact add little or no business value. Cloud is opening many enterprises’ eyes to the fact that there may in fact be significant value in using cloud services as a lever to drive standardization across the organization, particularly for non-strategic applications and processes.

What if enterprises learn to live with standardization and limited configuration, and dramatically streamline support for non-strategic applications and assets?

What if data security and privacy issues are mitigated?

Data residency, security, and privacy issues are providing significant cloud migration constraints for some global enterprises, particularly those in compliance-sensitive verticals like healthcare and financial services. But what if these barriers were significantly reduced or fully eliminated?

Salesforce.com recently gave a glimpse into one way this may happen through the recent announcement of its Data Residency Option (DRO), which gives customers the ability to keep data on-premise behind their firewall while providing encrypted access to the Salesforce.com cloud application. Some cloud infrastructure service providers, like Savvis and Rackspace, offer dedicated hosting and private/public cloud services in the same data center, enabling hybrid models that support data “ownership” and the benefits of dynamic bursting into public cloud models.

While enterprise customers are seeking more transparency, Amazon has in fact achieved compliance with FISMA, HIPAA and PCI DSS and other standards. Some in the audit community are also discussing the need to reexamine common policies and controls in light of cloud services and architectures. The net net? Data security, privacy, and residency issues may end up being addressed faster than expected. What would happen to adoption if these concerns were taken off the table?

What if pricing for common IaaS services drops by 50 percent?

To date, cloud service providers have very effectively used private cloud economics as a pricing umbrella for their public cloud services. The result? Highly attractive margins for current cloud providers and an onrush of new providers. If microeconomics holds here (and I don’t know why it wouldn’t), pricing for public cloud infrastructure services will begin to drop, and potentially dramatically. Amazon has already established a pattern of driving consistent reductions in pricing for its core cloud services. What will happen when new entrants get aggressive in trying to grab share? The enterprise business case ROI for cloud service migration could be much more compelling in the very near future.

What if mission-critical applications migrate first?

The assumption is that adoption of cloud applications starts at the edge with line-of-business and functional applications and then, over time, migrates to more strategic and mission-critical applications. But what if CIOs determine to go in the opposite direction?

Examples exist of large global enterprises that have migrated to cloud service providers that offer hosted private cloud SAP ERP services in conjunction with community cloud spiking environments. While the common belief is that mission-critical apps will be the final frontier for enterprise cloud migration, what if it turns out to be the first?

All of these scenarios are unlikely to play out as described, but we can be sure that the conventional wisdom will be wrong in a market that is evolving as rapidly as enterprise cloud. Current expectations for the rate and pace of adoption are based largely on past trends in enterprise technology, which is probably a bad assumption in itself. It is increasingly clear that adoption curves for new enterprise technologies are actually accelerating.

I bet my money that the pace of enterprise cloud adoption will surprise many … it will be interesting to see what unexpected scenarios might open up the floodgates.

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