Who are the cloud leaders?

Research from Oxford Economics revealed certain companies that are further along in cloud platform deployment. These leaders are more bullish on cloud’s potential to drive revenue and cut costs and more likely to prioritize virtual collaboration as a goal of mobile strategy, to have a BYOD policy, to have launched a managed service offering, and to use a cloud-based mobile app platform in production.

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Will cloud leaders continue to advance and remain ahead of other companies, or will widespread advances across companies close the gap? What will the next set of cloud leaders look like?  Our research suggests that leaders will focus on integrating platforms.

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Cloud leaders are already finding ways to use the cloud to collaborate with partners, suppliers, and/or customers. These leaders are using the cloud to innovate at the pace of business and meet rapidly changing market needs in real time and to participate in networks set up by technology providers. This trend will likely accelerate in the coming years, allowing companies to run more flexible, agile, and cost-effective IT departments and unleashing unprecedented business and IT gains.

In the book “ ” the author, Tom Standage states that

“The telegraph unleashed the greatest revolution in communications since the development of the printing press. Its saga offers many parallels to that of the cloud in our own time.”

As we try to understand the potential of Cloud, it is worth looking at this technology, and how it enabled the Modern World.

We all know that Samuel Morse invented the Telegraph and with it the need for his eponymous code. But Morse could have never foreseen the other business applications that would be built on his network, all of which are with us today.

  • Newspaper Wire Services
  • Wire Transfers
  • Stock Tickers
  • Futures Trading
  • Sears Roebuck and the Catalog
  • Railroads

The Network Effect of the telegraph was spectacular, for example look at the way the telegraph allowed Sears to offer products targeted at the newly connected rural areas, where people had few retail options and appreciated the convenience of being able to shop from their homes.

The company’s extensive catalogue would eventually become a fixture in American homes and changed the way people shopped. It also helped foster the growth of the mail-order industry worldwide.

My final example, Railroads, could never have been possible without the humble dots and dashes that allowed signalmen to control the points and switches. And the Railroads led to such fundamental changes in commerce, social patterns, leisure and warfare that it is impossible to imagine the twentieth century without them.

The Telegraph was a B2B revolution : consumers didn’t have one in their house, for example, and most people couldn’t speak the Code. The consumer revolution came with the telephone. However, even though they did not interact directly with Morse’s invention, the businesses that they used were transformed by it.

Cloud is essentially the reverse story. Consumers have jumped in first with online shopping, banking, travel and media. Up until now businesses have been in the strange situation of having electronic commerce at their fingertips at home, but existing mainly in the Paper Age in the office.

My Mum is able to access integrated payments, logistics and supplier ratings for her purchase of gardening gloves on Amazon; but a plant manager at a $1Bn industrial facility is hunting down the provider of a crucial gasket with the phone, and approving service entry sheets on paper.

But now it is time for B2B. Just as the telephone followed the telegraph allowing consumers to use the network that had been first used by business, now the Cloud Economy is following the Consumer Internet using the same wires. And since 80% of trade is essentially B2B, this will be a step change in the evolution of Cloud.

And just as Morse could never know all of the changes wrought by his telegraph, we don’t know all the other business that can be spawned by this Cloud revolution. But it will be equally transformative.

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.