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6/10/2008
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Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
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The Four Trends Driving Enterprise Cloud Computing

Google predicts that virtually all meaningful innovation in business applications over the next 10 years will occur within the cloud, driven by four distinct trends. What are they?

Google predicts that virtually all meaningful innovation in business applications over the next 10 years will occur within the cloud, driven by four distinct trends. What are they?On Tuesday at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, Rishi Chandra, product manager for Google Enterprise, outlined what he believes are the key trends that will drive a movement toward cloud-based enterprise applications.

First off, said Chandra, "Consumer driven innovation" is setting the pace for business apps to follow. That is, important breakthroughs in usability, reliability, and security are occurring first in the consumer market.

And consumers already have decided that the cloud is where they want their software.

Business innovation used to drive consumer innovation, but no longer. It's happening because the consumer market is now "more Darwinian" than the business market, said Chandra. For consumers, "switching costs in the cloud are zero." They can move from Google to Yahoo with one click. As a result, vendors serving the consumer space must constantly innovate and improve service levels.

The second trend is "The rise of the power collaborator," said Chandra. "Today the world is about team or group productivity," he said, noting that "expectations have changed" from the days when individuals could establish themselves as superstars in the office without engaging co-workers. Chandra says that, for the most part, enterprise IT hasn't yet caught up to this trend. "Everything is still built for the power user," he said. But cloud computing will change that, he contends, because collaboration means "you need a publishing platform."

(If you haven't figured it out, Google wants to be that publishing platform. So does Amazon; so does Salesforce.com; so does Microsoft -- well, sort of.)

The third trend behind cloud computing's inevitable arrival in the enterprise is the fact that "the economics of IT are changing," said Chandra. Businesses that can't secure resources at prices that are available in the consumer space -- where a company like Google can spread things like storage costs across millions of users -- will not be competitive.

"There's a huge benefit we can share with the market," said Chandra. "We believe we can get storage costs almost to zero."

Finally, cloud computing in pin stripes is on its way because barriers to entry are falling, according to Chandra. Connectivity, reliability, a quality user experience, and security can now all be assumed as given aspects of cloud computing that aren't hard to replicate, and there's more innovation to come.

Still, Chandra said that Google's "premise is that software isn't going away, it's going to be a progression." But one gets the feeling that Google believes, is in fact betting on, the fact that enterprise software will indeed go away, or at least ascend peacefully up into the clouds.

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