The long term future of “the cloud”

Figuratively speaking “the cloud” does not have much of a future because the term will become redundant and using it will sound dated. In the long term, public cloud will cease to be seen as a subset of the way information technology and communication (ITC) is delivered, but integral to it. In fact, it might be the other way around; in the long term running IT in-house will come to be seen as a quaint and unusual practice.

The majority of businesses will consume applications and services over wide area networks from what was once called the public cloud.  However, there will be a “long tail” with more conservative organisations insisting that they can still run IT better than external service providers whose whole business model is built on IT. Some large organisations will also continue to invest in new in-house systems (often deployed as private cloud infrastructure).

Those organisations that fully embrace cloud services will no longer need the type of IT departments that most have today which run servers and patch software. Instead they will have service delivery specialists that focus on making sure lines-of-business and their employees have access to the applications they need and that the use and storage of data is secure and compliant; these largely will be business-focussed rather that technology-focussed roles.

This does not mean the end of the IT professional; those jobs will migrate from end user organisations to public cloud service delivery specialists. Here the true technologist will be in their element, working for organisations whose raison d’être is the delivery of high quality IT services. Whether it is the data centre, hardware/software infrastructure or applications, these professionals will be focussed on delivering effective services that will drive the success of the cloud.

Of course, individual providers will come and go, but the direction of travel is clear, away from in-house and to the cloud. This series of blogs has argued the case that public cloud service providers will succeed because in many cases they have the best platforms for the job; more secure, more available and more cost efficient. Furthermore, the compliance challenges differ little from those that exist for the use of internal IT.

The four top use cases put forward for public cloud infrastructure services in an earlier post; as an application test bed, as a failover platform, for handling peak loads and planning for the unexpected will drive early adoption and increase confidence. However, as was pointed out in another post, the majority of consumption of public cloud platforms will be indirect through the use of software as a service (SaaS).

This is the real point about cloud and information technology. Facebook and Twitter users do not think of themselves as IT users, they are just consuming applications that allow them to communicate with others. The same will be true of businesses; they will no longer need to think about IT but simply about applications. As was pointed out in the very first of this series of blogs – It’s the application stupid.


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