From our just-released report on cloud platforms and mobility, Unleashing the Cloud (free download, registration required):

NYSE Technologies, a large provider of software and data services for the capital markets industry, has built a cloud platform to support customer trading system app-development, says Feargal O’Sullivan, Global Head of Alliances. While the firm does not build or offer its own trading-system apps, it provides its corporate clients with a set of APIs and a cloud platform where code and apps reside—or where they can develop them. This eliminates what he calls the “heavy lifting.” Mr. O’Sullivan explains: “If a client requires an analytic engine or mobile distribution capabilities, we’re able to support it through a third-party approach that uses the cloud.” Simply put, the customer can plug in various components and services and create a product on the fly.

In my role on SAP’s Global IT Strategy 2.0 team, I helped develop our company’s internal Cloud strategy. And I have been gratified to see how quickly it has been adopted throughout the organization.

From development, to sales, to education, people love the way the Cloud enables them to deploy new applications and system landscapes in minutes and hours – rather than weeks and months. They also love how the Cloud allows them to deploy applications that enable completely new business models, thanks to a wide range of self-service and automation tools we provide.

Great Time-Savers

The key ingredients for successful cloud adoption are our self-service and automation capabilities, combined with direct access to all Cloud features via APIs (application programming interfaces).

Through our automation engine, we help people eliminate manual tasks and significantly increase quality and speed. In addition, we provide an online community where users can share and collaborate on the development of additional automation scripts.

The Value of APIs

In a Cloud environment, APIs become even more critical than ever. APIs can help your organization leverage infrastructure services without having to manage the many technical and configuration issues that pose barriers in the non-Cloud world.

Through APIs, infrastructure becomes code, which can be directly embedded into Cloud-ready applications – providing tremendous elasticity and high availability.

APIs also provide far greater flexibility for integrating Cloud services with any existing solution. However, it is important to follow industry standards created by the leading Cloud providers – such as Amazon EC2, and VMWare vSphere.

The New Standard

Clearly, the Cloud is a great place for users. But it’s also a great place for IT professionals, who now have more time to focus on more strategic tasks that add value to the business.

That’s why Cloud and PaaS (platform-as-a-service) will soon become the preferred delivery model for most applications. What’s more, Cloud will increasingly be used as a convenient way to manage test, sandbox and training systems since it is so easy to get what you need within minutes.

I encourage all IT professionals to become conversant in the language of the Cloud, and to look for opportunities to leverage pure Cloud or “hybrid” environments.

The good news is, a recent study by Oxford Economics indicates that this is quickly becoming a reality. In the next few posts, my colleagues and I will take a closer look at the study, and explore the many reasons why Cloud is the new standard in IT.