Every year, we see new reports on how cloud computing is gradually increasing its foothold in business. But who is actually driving cloud adoption? Many would argue that it’s not the business community. In most cases, it’s not even the technology user. Despite often being the ultimate recipient of the technology, the consumer is merely adapting to the wider trends.
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The real cloud drivers
With the exception of Microsoft, who arrived relatively late to the cloud party, it’s the big vendors of the IT industry who have been the major influences behind cloud adoption over the last decade. Technology providers have in many ways reverse-engineered business cases that would enable them to deliver their solutions at a lower cost and improved bottom line. SaaS and IaaS were designed to be profit models for the industry that delivers them, not necessarily to meet a genuinely expressed requirement in the marketplace.
So what does that mean for the end user? Is this the new era of the product-focused enterprise? Is the market being sold a cloud-shaped solution to a need invented by technology providers?
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Stragglers and champions
In Forrester’s trend evaluation in 2013, Oracle customers were polled on their intentions of moving their Applications hosting to the cloud. The report claimed that 89 percent were unlikely or hesitant to consider a cloud migration. In the months and years that followed, there were a number of strategic approaches on Oracle’s part, to improve the incentives for shifting to a cloud model – or to raise the barriers to using traditional hosting.
For many software areas, however, the cloud option has been firmly embraced by users from the start. Adobe’s Creative Cloud is one product which immediately saw a huge uptake across the user base, far exceeding expectations, and is still growing rapidly – amongst both leisure and business users.
When discussing cloud adoption from the market’s perspective, we need to look at it from the two distinct angles of how the market views cloud computing as a compelling solution.
Migrating onto cloud
If the business or user is approached with an active choice to change the way they operate, to go from one platform to using another, there has to be a number of expressed benefits which outweigh the risk and cost of the transition. The idea of moving existing on-premise solutions to the cloud can be daunting, particularly if the new model doesn’t appear to fit the business perfectly.
Traditional industries may have concerns around data security, where others may not want to risk potential downtime when disconnecting legacy technology. As most organisations will find; there is never a perfect time to move to the cloud. In many cases, temporary disruption is part of the price you pay for long-term cost-savings.
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Depending on the complexity of the IT infrastructure, there could also be a culture shift at play. New software, new hardware, new platforms – these various interfaces can take time for the individual user to fully understand and use, which can cause productivity dips or added pressure on IT Support.
Starting on cloud
For many cloud-based services emerging now, new platforms are fully designed with the user in mind. Netflix for example, being the poster-child of “Cloud done right”, managed to identify a cloud solution which perfectly balanced convenience, access and value for the customer. One of the reasons why it worked so well was because it didn’t require a transition of usage. The new value of on-demand movie streaming far outweighed the old value of the DVD or VHS collection.
In a similar way, Salesforce.com didn’t become the most high-profile CRM system on the market by mimicking its predecessors, but by enabling businesses to make better use of their data in ways that were obvious from the outset. They disrupted the CRM market by setting a new standard that was completely customer-centric – which was why they quickly won thousands of advocates.
Faster than the speed of Cloud
Whenever we discuss the Third Platform and the growth of the use of mobile, social and cloud technology, it’s important to remember that not all cloud is created equal. The IT industry’s ability to speed up the rate of cloud adoption will rely hugely on their ability to create business cases that offer genuine value to the customer – by putting them first. The most successful cloud transitions happen when the user experiences an immediate enhancement of the service, without having to compromise on any of the aspects that are important to them.