Let’s set the record straight, cloud computing can mean a whole lot for your business but is not a ‘magic sauce’ you pour over your current IT environment that makes all your problems go away. Similar as with outsourcing, as an organization you need to know what you’re doing with your IT and retain architectural control. Part of this is realizing that outsourcing and/or cloud services cannot be used for all types of IT assets and solutions.
Inspired by a recent Gigaom blog post, which elaborates the trend of commoditization of IT, I want to underline that cloud is not a one-size-fits-all solution as it is so often thought of. Actually I think the the term meant in the post should be industrialization of IT, of which cloud computing as current logical phase of highly standardized, virtualized and automated IT services.
Industrialization is often believed to reduce the amount of cloud service providers to only a hand full, however I don’t think that this will happen. Or at least not soon and most likely only with infrastructure services (IaaS) as these offer the ‘least value’ and competitive advantage. The post stresses that, in an analogy with the car industry, even if industrialization will take place this will most likely not lead to monopolies which would be bad for innovation by. Like in the car industry, I expect there will remain something for everyone and every budget.
Another point to realize is that cloud computing is derived, or actually an evolution of standardization, virtualization and automation of IT services as mentioned before. Not all IT however can be utilized in this way. There are quite some very valid reasons not to use the cloud computing consumption model for some of your IT assets. Think of manufacturing device support, direct attached IT devices, high bandwidth demanding applications like data warehouse.
So organizations need well thought through decision criteria to define which of the delivery and consumption models are fit-for-purpose. Some good examples for this already exist, like described in the book Cloud Computing for Businesses by The Open Group.