What hath God wrought?” That was the very first telegraph message, sent nearly 170 years ago by Samuel F.B. Morse from Washington, DC to Baltimore, MD. And to my mind, that was the beginning of information technology at a distance, which some might think an apt description of Cloud Computing.
Of course we have lived with cloud computing for a long time, on and off, just never called by that name. Timesharing, Remote Access, Server Hosting, ASP, whatever you called it, the concept of separating IT services from the consumers has certainly been around for a while.
Now though, we think of these services in a different way, in a large part because of who the customers for these services are. Where past iterations of technology service buyers were largely focused within a centralized IT function which may have had different names and perhaps resided within the finance group, today’s buyers are very often part of a line of business function such as sales, marketing or even finance itself.
Need to analyze how social media sentiment is affecting sales of blue widgets in the Southwest? Don’t wait for IT to build and deploy a big data cluster, use your own data scientist and just rent one in the cloud. Tired of the lack of collaboration tools in your current productivity software package? Sign up your marketing team with a cloud-based subscription that includes great sharing, collaboration and presence tools.
I don’t even have to talk about CRM, where billions are spent each year on subscription services to enhance sales organizations’ ability to better interact with their customers. But heck, I just did anyway.
What if you take this to the extreme case – let’s say a young company or start-up that decides that all its IT functions and applications for both desktop and mobility can be handled from the cloud. There are certainly Software-as-a-Service offerings that will handle all the horizontal apps including HR, payroll, accounting, even ERP. And every day you see new vertical-market focused SaaS offerings that can handle the specific ins and outs of a broad array of industry functions.
If you couple that with cloud-based infrastructure offerings that handle day-to-day data storage and backup, what’s left for “IT Central” to handle? Ensuring that the differently sourced applications can communicate with each other? Integrating with an LDAP to eliminate the need for multiple sign-ons for different applications? Will the individual app or service vendors start to provide those services as well?
Is IT an endangered species, to be split up and relegated to individual department budgets?
Let me know what you think.