In the last 20 years the IT industry has driven technology into businesses of every shape and size. How many companies do you come across these days who do not use IT in some form? Even the most modest shop has an internet presence and even small community groups and schools use internet payment services for fundraising and paying for events. In 1999 Bill Gates said –
“If the 1980’s were about quality, the 1990’s were about re-engineering the 2000’s will be about velocity. How quickly the nature of business will change. About how quickly business will be transacted. About how information access will alter the lifestyle of consumers and their expectation of business.”
Your opinion on Bill Gates is neither here nor there, he was right. Modern business is obsessed with speed. How fast can we get it to market? How fast can we get the order be processed? How fast can we deliver? How fast can we turn a profit?
But the last few years have seen a change that IT companies have struggled to deal with. No longer will the market sit and wait for the next step forward and accept it with open arms. People are innovating for themselves and the tools to allow it are abundant. Major software providers no longer produce products so complicated you need to spend years training to install and customise. Modern software can be simple to install and has customisation and training tools built-in or available on the web.
Even if you don’t have the infrastructure to support a new system there are many companies who will give you a virtual infrastructure in the “Cloud” giving access to vast processing power and more storage than anyone imagined they would need.
What are cloud services?? – That depends on where you sit in the “cloud”
Some say it’s as simple as anything delivered over the internet, but that makes everything not in your school/office/home a cloud service. Would you call BBC news website a cloud service or website?
My definition is no more valid than yours, Microsoft’s or IBM’s – the description on Wikipedia has changed over 4000 times since the first entry in 2007  – The Cloud is yours and you should make it what you want it to be.
IT Providers must now change the business model from providers of products and services to Providers of products as services. Major enterprise have used the leverage of “fully managed services” for decades now but the smaller end of the market is pushing for service based, per user offerings. Industry is crying out for models that cut capital investment and allow per user pricing. Models that can be flexed up or down with minimal notice. IT companies must change their strategies towards products delivered as a service and learn to adapt these services quickly to an increasingly fluid Global Technology market.
And so now cloud services are the order of the day… But what is the cloud, and what are you going to do with it?
1. Bill Gates; Business at the Sped of Thought; 1999
2. f2mke blog; 2011