The cloud revolution is here. You just don’t know it.
We hear that cloud computing adoption has proceeded more slowly than anticipated, with security concerns usually cited as the chief roadblock -- but, as I write this, I realize how much the cloud has already pervaded my computing life.
I personally back up all my data to Amazon Web Services LLC ’s cloud; all my email routes through the Gmail cloud; and increasingly, I do more and more work in the Google Apps cloud.
And I am not alone. Tens of thousands of people -- and businesses -- are doing much the same, routinely using cloud services for mission-critical tasks ranging from maintaining CRM databases on Salesforce.com Inc. to maintaining bookkeeping records in Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU)’s cloud.
“Most companies have data in the cloud, whether they realize it or not, whether it's online tax filing software, or online access to a company's bank accounts, or the use of online credit card processing services. The cloud has been growing invisibly for years,“ says Patrick Fetterman, vice president of marketing at Plex Systems, an ERP software developer in Auburn, Mich.
I just stumbled on a wildly provocative comment from Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, who a week ago told a Utah gathering of technology executives that cloud computing is more important than the advent of the personal computer.
Read that again: more important than the birth of the PC.
The reason is simple: Cloud computing provides any one of us with access to dramatically scalable computing resources, priced on a pay-as-you-go model. Indeed, as Schmidt suggests, that is a rule changer.
And we may already be there.
“Yes, we are,” says Joe Cooper, co-founder of Mountain View, Calif., cloud provider Virtualmin. He adds that cloud computing “is reliable, redundant, perpetual, searchable, expandable, shareable, and, perhaps most importantly, available everywhere.”
OK, he’s a vendor, but put that way, cloud computing is hard to resist -- which is why we aren’t doing that.
Cloud computing has a winning edge: invisible ubiquity. In most instances, it is cheaper. Certainly, it also is flexible. But at day’s end, what the cloud has that nothing else does is the ability to access it from anywhere, oftentimes using just about anything, from a smartphone to a fully configured desktop computer.
Right now, it’s mainly small companies leading the charge into cloud computing, typically because they have both fewer dollars on hand and much less invested in legacy IT infrastructure.
At Vuzit, a Philadelphia-based document control company, Cristina Martin Greysman, executive vice president for business development, relates that her company heavily depends on a medley of cloud services, including Amazon Web Services, Salesforce.com, Yammer, Fogbugz, and Gmail. Ask her why and this is her blunt response: “We could not run our business as efficiently as we do if we had to install all these applications and manage them in house. It would be resource and cost prohibitive.”
When asked to estimate how big Vuzit’s savings using the cloud are, Greysman hesitated, then said she could not possibly guess because the costs involved in setting up everything in house would simply be beyond Vuzit’s capabilities.
Exactly that thinking is heard from growing numbers of small and mid-sized company executives, just as there is acknowledgement among cloud purveyors that, so far, the Fortune 1000 has been hanging back from large-scale implementations. But that just may change sooner rather than later.
Efficiency rules, and cloud computing is just more efficient. That’s why it is winning -- why, in fact, it has already won.
Of course, there are foot-draggers who resist knowingly moving all their data into the cloud (even though much of it already has moved up there).
Bottom line? Embrace the cloud because it's already moved in.
— Robert McGarvey is a widely published author and expert on social media.