2011 is being marketed as “The Year of the Cloud” meaning that the hosting of IT systems off-premise is set to take off. For someone who has experienced more ‘The year of’ stories than I would care to mention in my 25+ years in computing, I have become a tad cynical whenever the industry hypes the ‘next big thing’.
However, when major suppliers like Microsoft tell you that the vast majority of their R&D expenditure for business software is targeted on making it available as a hosted solution, then you have to take notice. Taking notice not perhaps for the best of reasons i.e. that it’s the right way to go, but more because a company with the clout of Microsoft will inevitably have a major say in how these things pan out.
That’s not to say there aren’t good reasons for moving to hosting – no upfront capital spend, identifiable and manageable expenditure, no expensive IT people to employ (and struggle to comprehend), upgrades and updates delivered seamlessly, you-focus-on-running-your-business-and-we’ll-look-after-the-IT etc. It all sounds eminently sensible, but…. there are always the ‘buts’.
For the number crunchers there’s always this nagging doubt that it’s actually going to cost them more. And for the business owners, the worry that ‘their data’ i.e. their customers, contacts, prospects, profitability, cash flow and so forth is not locked securely within their building but is floating about somewhere up in that ‘cloud’.
2011, in Chinese terms, will be the ‘Year of the Rabbit’ which I have to say sounds a tad unexciting. So, is the Microsoft alternative, ‘2011 – the year of the cloud’, likely to generate some excitement in the IT industry?
For it to really take off, we have to address these concerns and convince the sceptical number crunchers and business owners that we really do have a value for money, credible alternative to a roomful of servers and lots of sophisticated, expensive PCs scattered around the office.
And, perhaps most importantly, we have to convince them that it’s not another of the IT industry’s cunning ploys to part them from their money. I mean, it’s 10 years on and they still haven’t forgiven us for the Y2K debacle!