In the spirit of paradigm shifts, here’s one to think about.
Servers that are purchased today will not be replaced. Servers have a useful lifespan. Typically that ranges in the 3-5 years depending on their use. There are a number of factors that contribute to this. The cost to operate the server grows over time and it becomes less expensive to purchase a new one. The performance of the server is not adequate for newer workloads over time. These (and others) contribute to the useful lifespan of a server.
At the current adoption rates of cloud-based services, said servers will not be replaced. But rather, the services provided from those systems will move to cloud-based services. Of course there are corner cases. But as the cloud market matures, it will drive further adoption of services. Within the same timeframe, when existing servers become obsolete, many of those services will move to cloud-based services.
This shift requires several actions depending on your perspective.
- Server/ Channel Provider: How will you shift revenue streams to alternative offerings? Are you only a product company and can you make the move to a services model? Are you able to expand your services to meet the demand and complexities?
- IT Organizations: It causes a shift in budgetary, operational and process changes. Not to mention potential architecture and integration challenges for applications and services.
These types of changes take time to plan and develop before implementation. 3-5 years is not that far away in the typical planning cycle for changes this significant. The suggestion would be to get started now if you haven’t started already. There are great opportunities available today as a way to start “kicking the tires”.
Having written about the challenges for Road Warriors and cloud computing, I thought it a good opportunity to write about the challenges that connectivity brings to a cloud-based methodology. Some challenges are very real while others are perception.
It is true that road warriors are still challenged with hosting data in the cloud. There are a myriad of reasons this becomes problematic. The vast majority of airplanes still don’t have Internet connectivity. And those that do have limited bandwidth. Just try to open that large PowerPoint presentation or make a Skype call from an airplane over WiFi. The same is true in airports and hotels. And when there is connectivity, the options can be frustrating. I recently stayed at hotel in Japan (a global brand). They offered free WiFi in the lobby. In the rooms WiFi was not available…only wired access. Of course this presented a challenge for someone who typically only travels with an Apple iPad. And then there are the hotels, airports and other locations that charge exorbitant rates to use their WiFi network. If you’re traveling to a conference with other tech-minded folks, expect the connectivity performance to suffer accordingly.
However, for businesses, the challenges are less concerning. Businesses are more stationary and less mobile. Redundant connectivity is a real option as the cost of bandwidth drops. For this reason, connectivity is less of an issue for businesses than the mobile users that access cloud-based services. Local access to productivity apps and their related files can realistically be accessed across the Internet today. There are corner cases, but for the majority, it is very possible.
When considering whether to leverage cloud-based services, one has to consider many factors. Those include the location of users (end-users, developers, administrators), applications that consume the data and value to business (economic, flexibility and responsiveness). More to come on the “three tenants” of cloud computing in a future post.
It is important to consider the different scenarios. It is equally important to look at new paradigms and not be constrained by conventional wisdom.