and major cable Internet vendors are leveraging the newly improved DOCSIS 3 cable modem specification to bridge the gap between fiber and copper networks. Companies can get over 100 megabits per second down and 30 megabits up on consumer-grade lines. Business-class services up the ante with improved upstream connectivity, and in some cases, a service-level agreement forcing the ISP to give credit for downtime, an enterprise feature that has only recently surfaced in business-class contracts.
What that adds up to is that your competitors can embrace low-cost, no-upfront-investment IT. Companies that do not leverage this wave of SaaS and PaaS services now will pay a great deal more for much less over the next decade -- by a factor of at least three, in my opinion.
More data points:
- Software developers have overwhelmingly indicated that their future efforts will be cloud-focused. Cling to legacy on-premises line-of-business systems and you could find yourself supported by the developers' "B list" personnel.
- New cloud datacenter security standards like SAE promise rigorousness security rivaling FIPs and CJIS audits. Could your datacenter pass?
- Unstructured and specialty data storage mechanisms like MongoDB, Couch, Redis, and others support seamless sharing of big datasets across commodity hardware boxes, further decreasing the cost of specialization. In the healthcare market, for example, federal EHR mandates virtually guarantee that medical providers must use a highly integrated approach to sharing key data values among organizations, a job tailor-made for cloud services.
Motivated IT groups can hold ground for a while using hybrid clouds. However, such a setup interjects plenty of integration complexity versus using pure cloud. To continue our healthcare example, demonstration of Meaningful Use throughout the arduous EHR certification program requires consistent effort. Internally, that translates to out-of-control integration budgets to make EHR portability work to the federal standard, even in hybrid cloud deployments.
You might argue that customization is important. That argument was made by some respondents to the InformationWeek application consolidation survey. But as the chart above shows, customization rates didn't break 30% in any category.
No one is saying you can't run "secret sauce" applications in-house. But be very, very selective. Scant few on-premises software packages will be able to match the feature set of public-cloud-based competitors at anywhere near the cost, while further synergies in outsourced analytical data processing will grant cloud organizations a serious advantage in terms of agility and accurate business intelligence, regardless of the size of the data set. At the same time, the increasing focus on integration shown by cloud service providers will continue to confer broad advantages in terms of uniting diverse data structures and providing increased business value.
The picture is extremely clear: If your technology strategy doesn't emphasize a phased approach to cloud architectures over the next eighteen months, it might be time to look for a new job.
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