From a technology perspective, the benefits of cloud computing are well understood by this point. They will continue to evolve as the technology continues to grow, of course, but during the past 5 years or so of cloud evolution, cost, scalability, agility, and all the other reasons to move to cloud are well understood. However, there are other perspectives to explore where cloud is concerned to understand how it is actually being used by businesses to greater and greater success.
From one perspective, what cloud has done for the enterprise is effectively removing the IT supply chain. Groups within the business no longer have to go through the long process of figuring out which IT resources are needed for a project, or performing the analysis of how to navigate through the development aspects of the project with a dozen servers, a terabyte of storage, network establishment, and connectivity requirements.
Now when a group has a project, it can very quickly spin up some servers and start testing in development.
But why can they do this? Cloud has lowered the cost of entry to research and development. As a result, the cost of R&D broadly in the enterprise is shrinking. Groups are able to take that spend and time and use it in other ways in the R&D process that would have been otherwise sunk into servers, gear and people – in essence things that aren’t central anymore to focusing on the problem. In many ways this is the liberating aspect of cloud.
Another real way cloud is driving innovation generally is related to that supply chain process. But because cloud has lowered the cost of entry, ideas that may not have met the qualifications to gain support and resources in the enterprise, in terms of spending, have come to the point that they are now able to be explored.
One of the major components to the economy of work in large technology-focused companies is the rule of 80/20. Employees are incentivized to spend 20% of their time to work on creative projects to see if what they develop can fit into the business as a whole, in effect turning the entire company into the R&D department.
With a lower cost of entry via cloud and pay-by-the-hour payment models, its much easier for employees to get the budget to spend a couple hundred dollars here and there for server time, instead of thousands of dollars to buy a physical piece of equipment to do testing on.
Therefore, cloud is the platform on which ideas are able to be born, and once they move past the R&D phase, cloud remains the path way to launching products more quickly to a new market, or to meet increased demand in real time efficiently, without the fear of it failing from a resource provisioning perspective.
If the project fails, there’s not the stigma of an over-burdensome cost associated with the project. The cost of failure in the cloud is therefore reduced, which in turn mitigates the risk of new projects.
Entering new markets is also achieved through the cloud, since its inherent benefits (reduced start-up and associated development costs) allow a company to create more varied and targeted products and strategies, all the way down to how resources and applications are marketed in different regions.
By Jake Gardner