This was originally published on April 19, 2011 on novell.com:
With the promise of cloud computing splashed across every headline today, it’s easy to lose track of where its greatest opportunities lie. Yes, saving money is important. It can help nudge the dreaded 80/20 maintenance-to-innovation ratio in the right direction. But when you’re thinking about the cloud, don’t stop there. It’s agility that can drive business growth and innovation, elevating IT leaders to heroes.
As David Linthicum writes in a recent post, it’s easy to get seduced by claims of cost reduction. However, this narrow focus not only provides a limited view of cloud computing opportunities. It can also be unrealistic, as he notes about a recent vendor study:
If I went into someone’s office and claimed that I could save 80 percent on IT costs just by using the cloud, I’d get laughed out of the building. When you create studies like this, you tend to look at technology shifts in perfect worlds, and the perfect world does not exist.
Enlightened businesses aren’t stopping at the CapEx and OpEx calculations when they look at cloud solutions. They’re thinking bigger. What could an on-demand, scalable computing environment mean for a business?
The ability to unleash massive experimentation, boldly test new business concepts and become agile is what should drive every organization to (re-)examine cloud computing. As Forrester Research declared, IT needs to re-define itself as business technology, and IT managers must measure their results with business metrics, not technology metrics.
Imagine what a consumer products company could do, for example. It could test a huge set of promotions (a la Capital One), deliver new information services to retailers, or ramp up an e-commerce channel – all without having to scale up its internal infrastructure for a potentially huge response.
This opportunity isn’t just for industry goliaths that can afford a Super Bowl ad. It’s just as relevant for the small business that doesn’t have three extra servers to deploy for a new marketing promotion. In many small companies, the uncertainty around how the promotion would perform would lead the CXO to nix the up-front investment. However, cloud-enabled solutions let companies take more risks because the risks are so much smaller.
Cloud computing initiatives provide the perfect opportunity to transform information technology into business technology. IT leaders can use cloud initiatives to support their role as “Chief Acceleration Officers,” a term coined by InformationWeek that nails the new expectation. There’s never been a greater need or opportunity to do so.
What are the best examples you’ve seen of cloud computing solutions as business technology? Which CIOs are using cloud initiatives to drive agility and revenue acceleration?