Click here to close now.


Government Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Kevin Jackson, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Agile Computing

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Cloud and the Consumerization of IT

The cloud gives the consumerization of IT a whole new meaning

The cloud essentially "consumerizes" all of IT, not just relatively unimportant bits like procuring personal hard- and software. This requires a whole rethinking of corporate IT, as the idea of any master design becomes unattainable. How can IT as a species survive this trend as it may render the education of a whole generation of IT-ers irrelevant? On the brighter side - it really caters for the talents of today's teenagers: consumption as a lifestyle.

The idea of consumerization - users being allowed to freely procure their own personal hard- and software - has been around for a while. But few CIOs and even less heads of IT Operations have embraced it. Other than some token adoption, where users could choose between an iPhone or a Blackberry or where users got a personal budget to order from the company supplied catalog of pre-approved hardware, we see little adoption of the concept. The idea is that users can go to any consumer store or webshop and order any gadget they like, be it an iPad, laptops, printer or smart phone and configure these basically while still in the store to access their corporate mail, intranet and company applications. The idea originated when people wanted to use their 24 inch HD pc with 4 processors and mega memory - all essential to enjoy modern home entertainment and video and far superior to company standard issue equipment- to also do some work.

Cloud computing now makes such a consumer approach also possible at the departmental level. Department selecting and using non corporate approved or endorsed SaaS based CRM applications are the most commonly used example. But more interesting are the cases where departments - tired of waiting for their turn in the never reducing application backlog of corporate IT - turned to a system integrator to build a custom cloud application to meet their immediate needs. Several system integrators indicate that they have more and more projects where no longer IT, but the business department, is their prime customer. Contracts, SLA's and even integrations are negotiated directly between the SI and the business department, in some cases IT is not even involved or aware.

Now this is not a new phenomenon. We saw the exact same thing when PCs and departmental servers were introduced. Departments went off on their own and bought "solutions" from vendors popping up like the proverbial poppy seeds and often disappearing just a quickly after (remember Datapoint, Wang, Digital? And those were the ones that lasted). Guess who the business expected to clean up (integrate) the mess they left behind? Yes, the same IT departments they bypassed in the first place. One may even argue that: if IT had not been so busy cleaning up this mess over the last 15 years, they would have had a much better chance at building an integrated solution that actually did meet business's need. I am not of that opinion. With ERP we got this chance (and the associated billions) and still did not manage to keep up with the requirements, some things are just too vast, complex or simply change to fast to be captured in any master design.

So back to consumerisation. Although the trend has been far from whole heartily embraced by most corporate IT, it is continuing. In my direct environment I see several people who, instead of plugging their laptop into the corporate network at the office, take a 3G network stick to work. For around 20 Euros a month this gives them better performance accessing the applications they care about, not to mention it gives them access to applications most corporate IT department do not care for, like facebook, twitter, etc. Question is off course, can they do their work like that? Don't they need all day, full time access to the aforementioned fully vertically integrated ERP system? The answer is No. First of all, the vertically integrated type of enterprise that ERP was intended for, no longer exist. Most corporations have taken to outsourcing distribution to DHL or TNT, employee travel to the likes of American Express, HR payroll and expenses to XYZ, etc. etc. The list goes on and on.

All these external service providers support these services with web based systems that can be accessed from anywhere, inside and outside the company firewall. At the same time, the remaining processes that occur in the corporate ERP system are so integrated that they hardly require any manual intervention from employees. Consequently employees don't need to spend their time doing data entry or even data updates or analysis on that system. Any remaining required interaction is facilitated by directly interfacing with the customer via the web shop or via other web based systems. One could say that the world moved from vertically integrated manufacturing corporations to supply chain connected extended enterprises.

The question I will address in my next post is how does the cloud enabling consumerisation for enterprise applications play a role in this and what this means for IT moving forward.

On the supply side of IT, it means applications are best delivered as easily consumerable services to employees and others (partners, customers, suppliers). One large European multinational is already delivering all their new applications as internet (so not intranet) applications. Meaning any application can be accessed from anywhere by simply entering a URL and doing proper authentication. Choosing which applications to provide internally is based on whether there are outside parties willing and capable to provide these services or whether the company can gain a distinct advantage by providing the service themselves.

When speaking about consuming services, one should try and think broader than just IT services. The head of distribution may be looking for a parcel tracking system, but when asking the CEO or the COO they are more likely to think of a service in terms of something a DHL or TNT delivers. Services such as warehousing, distribution, but also complaint tracking, returns and repairs, or even accounting, marketing and reselling, all including the associate IT parts of those services. It is the idea of everything as a services, but on steroids (XaaSoS). Please note that even when an organization decides to provide one of these services internally, they can still source the underlying infrastructure and even applications "as a service" externally (this last scenario strangely enough is what many an IT person seems to think of exclusively when discussing cloud computing).

On the demand side of IT the issue is an altogether other one. How do we warrant continuity, efficiency and compliance, in such a consumption oriented IT World. If it is every man (or department) for themself, how do we prevent suboptimisation, In fact , how do we even know what is going on in the first place. How do we know what services are being consumed. This is the new challenge, and it is very similar to what companies faced when they decided to not manufacture everything themselves anymore, abandoning vertical integration where it made sense and taking a "supply chain" approach. Cloud computing is in many aspects a similar movement, and also here a supply chain approach looks like the way to go.

Such a supply chain approach means thoroughly understanding both demand and supply, matching the two and making sure that the goods - or in this case services - reach the right audience at the right time (on demand). IT has invested a fair amount of time and effort in better ways and methodologies to understand demand. On the supply side, IT till now assumed they were the supplier. In that role they used industry analysts to classify the components required, such as hardware and software. In this new world they need to start thoroughly understanding the full services that are available on the market. An interesting effort worth mentioning here is the SMI (Service Measurement Index) an approach to classify cloud services co-initiated by my employer, CA technologies and lead by Carnegie Mellon University.

After having gained an understanding of both demand and supply, the remaining task is "connecting the dots". This sounds trivial but is an activity that analysts estimate becoming a multi-billion industry within just a few years. It includes non-trivial tasks like identifying which users are allowed to do which tasks in this now open environment and optimizing the processes by picking resources that have the lowest utilization and thus cost. Because going forward scarcity will determine price especially in the new cloud world (which resembles Adam Smith's idea of a perfect open market a lot closer than any internal IT department ever did or will do).

Now off course all of the above won't happen overnight. Many a reader (and with a little luck the author) will have retired by the time today's vertically integrated systems - many of which are several decades old and based on solid, reliable mainframes - will have become services that are brokered in an open cloud market. A couple of high profile outages may even prolong this a generation or two more. But long term I see no other way. Other markets (electricity, electronics, publishing and even healthcare) have taken or are taking the same path. It is the era of consumption.

PS Short term, however, the thing we (IT) probably need most is a new diagraming technique. Why? From the above it will be clear that - in such a consumerised world - architecture diagrams are a thing of the past. And an IT person without a diagram is like a fish without water . We need something that allows us to evolve our IT fins into feet and our IT chews into lungs, so we can transition from water to land and not become extinct in the process. One essential aspect will be that unlike pictures of clouds and very much like real clouds, the diagrams will need to be able to change dynamically, much like pictures in a Harry Potter movie (it's magic). Who has a suggestion for such a technique ?

[Editorial note: This blog originally was published at on May 31st , 2010]

Read the original blog entry...

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, will look at different existing uses of peer-to-peer data sharing and how it can become useful in a live session to...
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley. The program, to be aired during the peak viewership season of the year, will have a major impac...
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete end-to-end walkthrough of the analysis from start to finish. Participants will also be given the pract...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
The enterprise is being consumerized, and the consumer is being enterprised. Moore's Law does not matter anymore, the future belongs to business virtualization powered by invisible service architecture, powered by hyperscale and hyperconvergence, and facilitated by vertical streaming and horizontal scaling and consolidation. Both buyers and sellers want instant results, and from paperwork to paperless to mindless is the ultimate goal for any seamless transaction. The sweetest sweet spot in innovation is automation. The most painful pain point for any business is the mismatch between supplies a...
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new data-driven world, marketplaces reign supreme while interoperability, APIs and applications deliver un...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, will discuss the impact of technology on identity. Should we federate, or not? How should identity be secured? Who owns the identity? How is identity ...
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of at least three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the backend big-data service, and the mobile application for the end user's controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target - this makes the integration of these separate pipelines and the coordination of software upd...
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, will introduce the technologies required for implementing these ideas and some early experiments performed in the Kurento open source software community in areas ...
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, will provide an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Luxoft Holding, Inc., a leading provider of software development services and innovative IT solutions, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Luxoft’s software development services consist of core and mission-critical custom software development and support, product engineering and testing, and technology consulting.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.