IT decision makers are conservative by nature: “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”
I frequently hear the question, “What does the cloud do for me that I can’t do in my own data centre?” The honest answer is nothing.
There is nothing that can be done in the cloud that couldn’t also be done in an in-house data centre or with collocated hardware in an external data centre.
However, almost everything a business may want to do with IT can be done more quickly, less expensively, and with intrinsically more scalability in the cloud. That’s the true value of cloud platforms.
A business could choose to buy and collocate new servers when updating its groupware application. It’s a simple process of getting approval for the capital expenditure, procuring the servers and the data centre space, paying for support and licensing, paying for server management, ironing out the deployment bugs, and so on.
After that the business will have a groupware solution perhaps equal in functionality to a cloud service. There will be ongoing costs for updates, support, and maintenance. The business will have to buy more servers and repeat the process when it needs to scale up. If it needs to scale down it’s out of luck in the short-term.
Alternatively, the business could contract with a cloud vendor that provides simple per-user pricing and is expert in managing and supporting a groupware solution like Open-Xchange.
The major benefit of cloud deployment is that vendors take on the tasks associated with deployment and management of applications and hardware. Companies pay for a hosted service and headaches of managing it are removed.
We’re still in the early days of the cloud. Vendors have only recently figured out how to offer platforms and services that conform to the needs of established businesses rather than the startups that drove early cloud adoption. It’s a nut that has been cracked. As companies expand or upgrade their infrastructure, they’ll run through a decision process somewhat akin to my above example with groupware applications, and the cloud will come out on top.
Enterprises will invest in the cloud in a piecemeal fashion: gradually swapping out aging legacy deployments for more efficient cloud alternatives. We can see that happening with the popularity of hybrid cloud solutions.
The result is enterprises that evolve towards the cloud. The cloud revolution lies in the technology and the platforms and services it enables. Real-world adoption will be gradual and evolutionary.