The cloud has been around in one form or another for about 20 years now. Although cloud looks much different than it did back in the days that were dominated by software as a service, the rise of platform as a service and infrastructure as a service has made the concept much more powerful and useful for enterprises.
The evolution of cloud technology is affecting all technology. The era of the PC got us to client/server. The growth of distributed computing got us service-oriented architecture. What has the rise of the cloud got us?
One piece of advice I offer to those moving to public cloud is that although the way we consume technology changes (over the open Internet instead of over our enterprise network), the patterns of technology remain the same. Storage is storage, no matter if it’s 15 feet away or 1,500 miles. Same goes for compute, databases, even specialized security and ops processes.
Public cloud has changed how technology is evolving. Let’s explore a few of the ways.
Faster procurement has led to an experimentation approach. Years ago, hardware and software procurement cycles took months—maybe it’s the same today depending on whom you work for. With public clouds, we can now “play” with technology to determine if a solution offers true value or not.
No matter if it’s artificial intelligence, an accounting system, data analytics, or another very expensive system, we now have the ability to try them on the cheap, moving through solutions that don’t work to find one that does. Try this with traditional hardware and software and you’ll find that you break the budget quickly.
Most cloud-based services mature faster. The people charged with evolving public cloud services, such as storage, compute, databases, etc., have found that the pace of technological evolution has accelerated, sometimes tenfold. This is due to the speed of feedback from cloud services users and the ability for cloud providers to weaponize agile development processes and devops to fix issues or add functionality that users may be seeking. Moreover, the new features or fixes are available immediately.
Long gone are the days of version numbers where you had to wait months or years to get the fixes and functionality you needed. The cloud has changed expectations for how technology matures.
The distributed workforce is now common. The pandemic has changed the way we consume technology. Most of us used to leverage enterprise technology from within the enterprise firewall, but the rapid rise of the remote worker has led to enterprises understanding the distributed power of cloud computing.
As workers were sent home with laptops, enterprises found that public clouds supported a distributed workforce naturally. Public clouds are built to account for all types of devices and humans consuming cloud services from anywhere and on any type of device. Security, governance, and operations are all purpose built for a distributed workforce.
The journey has only begun, and I suspect that the effects of cloud computing on most of technology will be even more profound than we think.
David S. Linthicum is an internationally recognized industry expert and thought leader. His views are his own.
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