Collective capitalism is at the heart of the cloud, and will be what users expect
To many people concerned with mission critical’ systems, cloud computing is of only passing interest, not least because it is still not considered suitable or industrial strength for the job. But if you interpret mission critical system’ as the existence of the whole business, rather than any specific applications that might help the business to survive, then the cloud has a great deal to teach.
Perhaps its greatest lesson is how to exploit Collective Capitalism. As cloud services are increasingly complex and powerful amalgams of different applications, services, components and tools that, only together, can create a workable, flexible and agile service solution to a business problem, so all businesses – including both traditional’ IT vendors and their customers – are butting up against the requirement to become the same.
As a long-time observer of the IT industry I have become aware of a core piece of psychological dogma amongst many of its major players – the fundamental belief that their application (and in some obvious cases their hardware platform as well) is the critical component which keeps the mission of the business afloat. In most cases, of course, it no doubt played a significant part in keeping the admin of the business running – and in some cases only when the business bent its admin processes to fit what the application could provide – but those days are now fast disappearing.
So what constitutes mission critical’ has to become the subject of some debate. I do feel that those vendors that continue to insist that their product is at the core of mission criticality – even in the cloud – are reaching the point of doing their existing users and future customers no favours at all. For a start they are putting the cart (their solution’) before the horse (what the user actually needs to achieve to maintain the business in good health in an often rapidly changing marketplace).
Cloud service providers are already well aware that they exist in a Scrabble’ world, where having the right letter to make a word marks the difference between success and failure. It is a world where two men and a dog skilled at X’ can play a small but vital role in creating an extremely wonderful solution’. They can be as mission critical as the biggest applications in the world.
And the important point is that the collective approach will not just be what makes the cloud work, it will be the way that user businesses will start looking at their business solutions. They may not see it consciously that way, but they will be looking for services that start and end where they understand the process starts and ends for their business, producing the results they want, in form they want, in the timescale they need and at a cost that makes sense.
They won’t be looking for a database’ or an ERP system’, and it won’t come from just one supplier – though in the cloud it might just come from one service aggregator with the right brand name.