The cloud offers a lot in terms of access to IT resources, functionality, and expertise. But what is its biggest selling point? For many CIOs, it's cost: Low upfront investment (compared to on-premise IT implementations) and cost control over a specified period are what drive the cloud decision.
Flexibility is another big advantage of cloud computing. If you're a retailer at Christmas time, for instance, what you need is scalable online resources: If you can't scale up to the demands of your e-commerce customers, you're dead.
But speed, time to market, the ability to implement a game-changing app when the competitive market is ripe for it, is emerging as the cloud's major advantage. It helps explain why software-as-a-service took hold at the business-unit level, where divisional managers side stepped what they perceived as IT's slow response time to try and gain a technological edge over competitors.
Chris Murphy, editor of InformationWeek, makes this point very well in a recent blog. And, as he notes, vendors are well aware of that urgency imperative. Microsoft, for example, points to the speed factor in relation to its Azure cloud platform: "Bob Muglia, president of Microsoft's server and tools business, in a recent interview with InformationWeek … unequivocally said that speed will be the biggest benefit companies get from Azure. They will save money, he says, but speed will be the biggest game changer."
Cost savings always look good on paper. But in today's hyper-competitive environment, speed is a pre-eminent business advantage, one that cloud computing was conceived to serve.What is cloud computing's biggest benefit? Is it cost savings? Time to market? Flexibility? Write down your answer on a piece of paper (if that's an unfamiliar concept, just note it in your iPhone), then take it out and look at it six months from now and see if you would still come to the same conclusion.