(It’s) The End of the Cloud (as we know it)
“It’s the end of the world as we know it”, they say, “and I feel fine”. I do indeed. Things change. And change is always moving us and all around us. And in the best case it’s moving us forward.
So, let me start with a very moving (and maybe touching) statement:
“The Cloud has ended!
You can now stop talking about it.”
After about 5 years (if you think of the Middle-of-Europe geography – maybe some more in the US), the Cloud has finally come to its end. That’s great! Because eventually we can luckily move on to the really important things in our day-2-day IT life!
So – why is that? Why do I have the strong believe, that this hype is now finally over?
Some 5 years ago I participated in a panel discussion. And the main area it circulated on was whether Cloud can ever be secure or not – multi tenant or not – reliable or not – compliant or not. The panel discussion as such went quite well and eventually attendees of some real industry giants, like e.g. Siemens, for the first time felt assured that this was
The next Big Thing to Come …
And it was! Indeed! It remained to be perceived as the next big thing for the next – well – let’s say: 2 to 3 years.
That occasion back then was only one example – however – of how conversations went going forward. People lost themselves in arguments of security, compliance, controlability and segregatability of a cloudy, foggy and fuzzy monster which none could really grasp for a long time. Discussing these was just more easy than to understand the big advantages to come …
Still, it remained not only a hype but took its turn into our everyday life! Even more than that – Cloud Computing became the basis for what we today call the third IT revolution. And many talks today aim at spanning everybody’s perception regarding this revolution – one within our everyday lifes with IT being planted into any kind of small or big device – one within our industry lifes with production processes being shifted by 90° to create a complete new way of delivering applications – and eventually also a revolution for the big players as many of them might lose traction when remaining one foot on the platform, the other on the train for too long …
Soon after that panel discussion back in 2009, me and my then team entered the Windows Azure “Technology Adoption Program”. We created a first Cloud-based software distribution platform; you could compare it to those Systems Management architectures which have been very common for long in enterprise IT. By using Cloud patterns, we were able to address a broader reach and distribute more scalable and more flexible. Azure – back then – had its really major leaks and intensively improved down the path – together with fellow teams like ours who recommended changes and enhancements to the platform without end. Amazon – by that time – had already its place in the market. But what were they doing? Nothing more and nothing less than providing servers – more or less. Infrastructure-as-a-Service, it was called (question is: would you claim this to be disruptive today?).
Everybody talked about
The Big 3
Amazon, Microsoft and of course — ? — Google. Question: What’s one common thing of all 3 of them??
Exactly: All are US-based, spreading their capabilities over the world pretty quickly – backed by major investments – but still US-based. And every enterprise also back then knew: This was not going to work in compliancy to their respective country’s law or their anti trust regulatory.
So what remained the major discussion over years? Still? Security. Compliance. Controlability. Segregatability – still the same. Resentiments were omnipresent and the Big 3 kept having a hard time generating adoption of their brilliant new technologies (whereas admittedly Microsoft had the hardest time, because they leaked a $-rollin ecosystem such as brilliant search or brilliant book-sells).
Still, that Cloud-hype was not killable. Despite all concerns of private and public endavours, of small businesses and large enterprises, Cloud Computing remained and even strengthened its position as the basis for more to come: Technology ecosystems that evolved solely and purely because cloud took its turn into our everyday life and everyday enterprise IT.
And how couldn’t it?
How many of us are using eMail, some kind of file sharing facility, a social network of any kind? Anyone not using any remotely hosted collaboration product, authoring tools, design helpers – like the Adobe family – etc. etc. …
Who’s been using that within one’s work environment daily? For how long? 2 years, 3 years, …
We have all long ago started to enhance our day-2-day work experience by adding usefull little helpers into our IT-wise behaviour – sometimes without even noticing, into how far away premises we’re providing our data to. Haven’t we?
And many times we’ve all done that long before our enterprise IT provider offered us the same convenience, the same workforce enhancements from within our company’s premises. Either privately or even on our company PCs. Enterprise IT departments have been facing the worst time of their existence with sleepless nights for CIOs asking themselves the very same question ever and ever again: How the hell can I stop that Cloud thingy to happen to my enetrprise IT when it is so unsecure and uncompliant and at the same time, all my CxO’s are using it on their iPads? How can I adopt it without losing control completely.
Well – Ladies and Gentlemen – let me assure you: The nightmare has an end as it’s
The End of the Cloud as we know it!
(BTW: Ever had a look to a recent Gartner hypecycle and its positioning of “Cloud Computing”: They kept having it on the declinign edge for the last 2 years or so …) So I think we can rest assured: Our struggle is over.
But why? Why can a hype that big, that it managed to become the basis for all new and disruptive power in IT – social, mobile apps, data management and analytics – finally end?
Because it finally became utterly boring! Because it simply isn’t Cloud anymore, we’re talking about! Stop talking Cloud. Stop talking SaaS. It’s not retaining the importance it used to have. It has ceased to exist as a self-contained technology arguing its relevance by itself. It has ceased to exist on its own.
Hence – and here comes another good news – we’re now finally able to adopt this great new technology precisely for what we really neeed it: To accelerate and grow the businesses, which we – the IT guys amongst us – are bound to support. To integrate it into the devices we’re creating and stay as connected as needed. Or to accelerate our delivery into continuity. Or to simply consume the Services, we need to consume. Right now. Right as much and rapid as we need’em. And ultimately: To bridge the great IT systems we’ve all been managing for decades with the elasticity and scalability and accuracy of what was formerly called Cloud.
Let me talk you through a few examples:
- Salesforce started in 2001. Claiming the decline of Software. They were facing the same concerns, the same weak adoption (at least in the beginning), the same hurdles for their entirely subscription based model. Today, Salesforce offers an ecosystem of products – even a platform to create your own: force.com – which are virtually friction-freely integrateable with your on-prem IT; mostly by just a few configurational mouseclicks. And a huge many enterprises trust Salesforce just enough to provide them one of their most critical business assets: their customer and opportunity data.
- Or take user management: Many of today’s enterprises still struggle with providing their businesses a seamless login and authorization experience. At the same time, many roll out an identity provider which bridges on-prem IT systems with SaaS-provided systems and thereby offer a totally new single-sign-on experience not only within their on-prem IT. It’s a way of shifting – or even vanishing – the borders.
- Or think of the most obvious of all examples: Infrastructure and Application Provisioning. Who has not yet introduced Virtualization in its IT? Every larger enterprise has, and the smaller ones leverage it from some out-of-prem providers. Finally, the technology that was formerly called “Cloud” has evolved into a level of maturity that it lives up to the promises of some earlier days: There’s means for you to control and manage your on-premise IT infrastructure seamlessly in a joint way with some Infrastructure provided – well – somewhere (I’m not stressing the word again).
One Piece is Missing
One extensively important technology item that has the ability and purpose of glueing it all together: Automation. Or to be precise: Automation and Orchestration.
We are entering the era of Orchestration. We’re leaving the self-fullfilling technology-focussed island of pure “Cloud” behind us and can finally commence to create the really interesting stuff: By bridging our solidly designed and implemented IT systems and architectures with some even more solid, secure and reliable, scalable, elastic architectures, we are accelerating the business value of technology. We start to shift our thinking towards “Orchestration” and “Service”:
So, trust me: It’s the End of the Cloud as we know it! And we indeed can feel entirely fine about it. Security concerns have been addressed all the past years. Compliancy has been factored into vendor’s platforms – as has multi tenancy. And we are able to control where our data resides. Hence, the change can finally move on. We can stop talking “Cloud” as it became so boring as a standalone technology.
The Hype is Over
We’re entering the era of Orchestration – of Service Orchestration and entirely Service-based delivery. And Automation is the glue to make it happen. Automation is the glue between those valuable, well-defined, secure IT architectures and whole-new ecosystems of platforms – for the benefit of Service Orchestration.
So: Let us stop the “Cloud” talk. And start to
Automate to Orchestrate
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