Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Working in the Cloud: How Cloud Computing is Reshaping Enterprise Technology

At the Enterprise 2.0 conference, Rishi Chandra, product manager for Google Enterprise delivered a thoughtful and interesting talk on how cloud computing is reshaping enterprise technology. Rishi makes the point that the next 10 years of innovation will be in the cloud.

From Rishi's presentation, I took the following takeaways:
  • The cloud will drive towards unmatched scalability which in return will marginalize the cost per unit of the infrastructure whether it be storage or processing power
  • The uptime requirements of the cloud will provide unmatched reliability
  • Cloud computing providers need to build trust in their infrastructure. Security being often the primary concern.
  • This is a highly disruptive trend which could transform the economic dynamics of the software industry for on-premise software
During his presentation, Rishi outlined 4 areas of innovation that will further increase the appeal of cloud based solutions:
  • Consumer driven innovation will set the pace. Why? Because the consumer world is Darwinian in nature. Within the Enterprise, there is a lack of direct connection to the end user as purchase decision connect vendors with IT or purchasing departments. In the consumer space, consumers have direct choice and access to the technology.
    One key lesson learned at Google is that simplicity wins. Google has been able to accomplish this by having an explicit focus on end user. This results in better solutions for the end user and drives towards increased innovation.
  • The rise of the power collaborator. The world is about team and group productivity where individuals needs to become increasingly connected to be more productive. Rishi makes the point that tools in the enterprise are still built for power users. The cloud is focused on collaboration and allows users to contribute information anywhere, all the time. Rishi envisions users being able to collaboration on content online and leverage "cloud services" such as automated translation to break communication barriers between contributors, or publishing services to publish information. The cloud is the right platform to provide those services and will offer one repository of information with open APIs.
  • The economics of IT are changing. The larger question for the enterprise is: how does the enterprise deal with scalability? Google as tremendous scalability challenges it needs to deal with. For instance, on the Google Picassa web service, 7 million new photos are uploaded a day. As Google scales its infrastructure, Google predicts that scale will drive unit costs towards zero. This is an interesting trend and aligned with what Amazon S3 services illustrate with storage at $0.15/GB. This provides some clear challenges for more traditional storage companies. Google positions its App Engine as a scalable hosting platform. This trend towards unlimited scalability provides huge opportunities and have great implications for the enterprise.
  • Barriers to adoption are falling away. Connectivity is becoming less of an issue. In addition, the user experience of web applications is getting richer all the time. Also, reliability expectations have changed. For instance, Gmail is multi homed, providing unmatched reliability. Rishi predicts that this will provide a level of reliability that on-premise deployment will be challenged to meet. One key barrier to adoption is security. But how secure is your organization today? 1 in 10 laptops are stolen within 12 months after purchase. Rishi makes the argument that data in the clould is more secure. However Google recognizes that in order to address the security issue, it will need to build trust with its customer. Google already does this, Postini is leveraging its cloud infrastructure for security and compliance solutions.
As closing remarks, Google does not believe that on-premise software is going away but predicts that innovation will happen in the cloud and open APIs will foster competition. Rishi predicts that all Google applications will become more social and leverage a common platform.

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