Is Cloud the ‘darwinian litmus test’ for every industry?

storm_clouds_and_rainbow-wallpaper-2400x1350A very good read in today’s GigaOM provided an impassioned defense of cloud computing. In The delusions that companies have about the cloud author David Girouard, former President of Enterprise at Google, makes the bold statement:

…whether it’s service reliability, data protection, or regulatory issues, there remains to this day an insane resistance to cloud computing that is quickly becoming the “Darwinian litmus test” for companies in every industry.

His “three pervasive dimensions” of this insanity involve fear of outages, the need for customer service during an outage, and a belief that cloud is only good for non-critical apps with non-sensitive data.

Insider’s view

Calling it a Darwinian litmus test seems strong, but Girouard comes from a company and a role that gives him remarkable insight into the value and durability of the cloud. In his view, trusting an organization’s most important and sensitive bits to a relative stranger is the only intelligent way to do business. The essence of his argument is that the organizations selling cloud computing have better engineers, higher expectations and more reliability than an enterprise’s own people. In a nutshell, highly specialized beats in-house.

This isn’t a new argument. Companies in the early days of the industrial revolution generated their own electricity before realizing that even occasional outages weren’t worse than the higher cost and similar outages of their own generation units.

Interestingly, Girouard also argues against demanding dedicated customer service and account representatives as it only drives up cost and has no bearing on the quality of service. Going back to the power generation example, no company today expects an ‘inside rep’ to take their call during a break in service.

Natural evolution to cloud

Girouard, with his use of ‘Darwinian litmus test’ makes a compelling point that cloud as the single source for computing power has an inevitability that can’t be ignored. I tend to agree. For startups and companies expanding their footprint, cloud should be the go-to choice.

But for companies with significant investment in infrastructure, it doesn’t make sense to incur the significant cost of a rapid switch to cloud. We’re about to go through a period where companies will be looking to migrate gradually as old systems are retired or where proactively moving computing to cloud can be done without high cost or risk. During that transition, ‘bridge’ services that manage a federated cloud that’s both on and off premise will be a valuable investment.

Whether it will truly be a litmus test remains to be seen, but it will certainly be a standard way to run even the large enterprise in the coming years.

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Categories: Cloud / SaaS / PaaS, Disruption

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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5 Comments on “Is Cloud the ‘darwinian litmus test’ for every industry?”

  1. January 26, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    I think Girouard’s position is a little sensationalist. Everyone knows the benefits of cloud at this point, but there are (and will continue to be) many various sticking points for a company to not be willing to jump feet first into a full cloud transition, be it security, reliability (which he attempts to prove false) or other. I think your conclusion is a bit more level-headed, and rather than turning immediately to AWS, there are other options like an on-premise cloud or a variety of services that can be tailored to a company’s individual need.

    • January 26, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

      Kenan, thanks for the comment. Do you believe ubiquitous public cloud is inevitable? If so, what’s your prediction for the timeline?

  2. January 27, 2013 at 4:08 am #

    The cloud is inevitable. 10 years ago, every time anyone I know had an idea for a business, the first question was “How much would infrastructure cost?” The answer was always at least $500,000. That ALWAYS took the conversation next to “How/Where do we raise the money for this?” Now, with the cloud, the answer is $300/month. This is like throwing bananas at the wall and seeing which ones stick. It is liberating. There is no going back. Anyone who doesn’t embrace this will be left behind, utterly and completely.

    • January 27, 2013 at 9:16 am #

      Mark, excellent thoughts. Thank you. I actually think the cloud article is an answer to a fairly dark article on TechCrunch yesterday about the future of business and the dying off of the middle class: http://techcrunch.com/2013/01/26/america-has-hit-peak-jobs/

      The reason this article isn’t necessary true is because the means of production don’t cost $500,000 to get started.

  3. Andrew Knevitt
    January 28, 2013 at 4:56 am #

    Thanks Chris.
    I think companies are failing to see the link between cloud computing and business process. The cloud paradox is the perception the cloud is only suitable for non-core process, but the real benefits lie in core process. Why? Because cloud is offering new, creative and cost effective ways to deliver value. Its too often a limited discussion about infrastructure, costs and god help me ‘elasticity’. Depending on the industry your in, cloud enabled core process is starting to become less of a competitive advantage and more of competitive necessity.
    So is David Girouard on to something? You bet he is. His point is the big business continues to use insane excuses that slow/stall adoption. Pace of adoption will in many industries, effect long-term viability of a companies business model.

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