I thought it would be fun, with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, to work through some “thought experiments” about what the Cloud could mean for real businesses.
First off, I began to think a little about how, if given a green field situation, you would build the IT systems for a company of 1,000s of workers. I think it would be fair to say that nearly everyone would agree (with a fewnotable exceptions ) that you build this IT system solely out of On-Demand applications and technology. It certainly stretches my imagination to believe that someone would be rushing into a traditional, on premise, ERP implementation!
So what would the On-Demand collection of technologies look like? Is there a Cloud Stack? Is there a Cloud Operating System? In the Open Source world we talk a lot about the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP). Before that we talked about Wintel. So, it is not unreasonable to think that there is a collection of On-Demand entities that fit together to form the basis of a Cloud alternative to traditional on premise offerings — particularly for the needs of enterprise customers.
So, one attempt to define this Cloud Alternative is:
Now, I′m sure there would be many who would take issue with this particular grouping of companies—and clearly, there is a self serving element to it. However, I do think that the concept has merit. In particular, it points to 3 crucial elements of how the Cloud Computing world is shaping up.
How are these changes taking hold in business? I′ll take a real Workday customer as an example. This customer is a company of more than 25,000 people and has been in business for more than 35 years. It has the usual collection of IT systems that have grown up over that period. These IT systems are a collection of packaged and custom built applications. The CIO is committed to moving to an On-Demand model, with as many major applications areas as possible—and the integrations between them—supported in the Cloud. Why? Cost-efficiency, the ability to scale up or down, the opportunity to leverage best-of-breed solutions and the opportunity to focus IT resources on projects that are strategic to the company.
And I expect eventually, thru SOA, this company will have the opportunity to move or re-implement even their custom code in the Cloud.
In the end, SWAG is a little arbitrary. In conversation with my colleagues and customers at Workday there are several other candidates that could be added in. e2open has a very dynamic and innovative On-Demand approach to Supply Chain Management. Xactly has a fantastic take on Sales Performance Management. But I think you see the point here: there is a rapidly growing network of related On-Demand applications that all communicate with one another to provide an alternative, not just for green field start-ups but for well established enterprises. Whether or not you totally agree with the list of companies above, there is no doubt that this SWAG has the potential to change both the technology and economics of enterprise IT.