How much infrastructure are you willing to throw away?

Evolution of PhoneA torrent of conversations are taking place across every form of media about technology change rapidly taking place. You may think it’s always been that way, but there’s something much faster and more urgent happening right now.

Some of those conversations come as discreet bits like this week’s rumor about the Apple ‘iWatch’ and others are ‘bucket’ stories about A Whole New World Of Mobile Markets: Cars, Photos, TV’s, Wallets And More.

Regardless of the hashtag, they’re actually about cloud computing.

Cloud stories

Computers trashedA remarkable shift is happening under our computing and data feet to a world of skinny fronts ends and Cloud back ends, accessed from anywhere on any device and in real-time. The change is led by our phones-that-became-smart and is followed (a bit more slowly) by what’s happening in the enterprise.

Those enterprises are move more slowly because they have so much invested in people, process and technology. Who could blame them?

Unfortunately, that’s going to make piles of trash out chunks of past investment. Many companies are adding to that future pile as we speak. Some know it, some don’t.

Enterprise turn

For companies who figure it out, their executives are still going to be hard-pressed to make decisions about significant change for two compelling reasons:

  1. It takes guts to toss the ideas that were championed just a short time ago 
  2. Change is scary and big change is also big risk

But there’s urgency. These two reasons are immutable truths and the sooner they’re accepted, the sooner people can move forward to the pressing issues. The challenge? Moving forward by yourself is a foolish proposition and maybe more risky than staying where you are.


Consulting and enterprise software have outsized roles to play in helping the enterprise make it through the change intact. To do that, though, they’ll need to be ‘first mile companies’ and not ‘last mile’ service providers. Last mile is traditional vocabulary for phone companies who struggled with connecting the customer as the hardest part of a network or phone call.

Borrowing from this idea for technology, the first mile is innovation and rapid change (cloud is found here), the middle is on-premise software and the last mile is simple services (like apps) on commoditized devices (like smartphones, tablets and desktops). Bring your own device (BYOD) makes the last mile less interesting and the first mile very compelling.

Enterprise software turn

Expect the traditional enterprise software companies and their consulting partners to make a hard turn toward cloud computing in the coming year. Some things will never go away, like the need to integrate, move and act upon data it in real-time.

It will just take place in the Cloud.


Evolution of technology



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 “How much infrastructure are you willing to throw away?”

  1. February 18, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    I like the direction of this post and agree that the industry is making a general shift in this direction. However, I think the Cloud still has quite a ways to go in terms of capacity and computing power before enterprises can put everything in the Cloud.

    For example, at Software Advice we run almost all of our applications in the Cloud for many of the commonly cited reasons. However, we’re not able to run our telephony in the Cloud because the Cloud can’t handle the computing requirements of managing VOIP for us in the Cloud–and we’re only a 45-person company.

    Granted we have a phone-intensive business but I think it points to some of the ways that the Cloud still needs to mature. Nice post, Chris.

    • February 18, 2013 at 10:10 am #

      Thanks, Derek, you bring up a great point about telephony.

  2. Todd Williams
    February 18, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    I have a hard time agreeing with the proposed end state anytime soon. SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS solely in the cloud? Not in my career lifetime. Some SaaS/PaaS plays seem homogenous across industries (Workday), but if a company’s IT is ultimately to serve their unique Business Processes, then I think on premise software will have its place for many years to come.

    I have a brilliant developer friend at Salesforce (former IBM) who is bored to tears because all he’s working on are brain dead simple Java apps hosted on a cheaper platform. He isn’t working on hard stuff (composite, SOA oriented apps that cross platforms and leverage services from multiple source platforms). New stuff is being built in cloud but the way he tells it only Netflix and the like are running 900 JVMs across a pure PaaS/IaaS layer. They have little to no legacy. They are not “enterprise”.

    I have a $5B customer still trying to deal w mainframe. They are using SaaS for discrete things, but they still run on the assets that built their company. Assets that aren’t easily sunsetted without a heavy helping of the value TIBCO provides as a facade between old and new.

    Just what I’m seeing in the field. Of course, it’s Texas. And we lag the west coast by about ten years. 🙂

  3. February 19, 2013 at 8:27 am #


    I agree with your post and offer a couple of alternatives.

    Because of the high investment in legacy software (including the most current ERP), companies should not modify, upgrade, replace or integrate these applications. That software is so deeply embedded in their business that the cost, risk and disruption are too great to change. Business needs to be able to maintain their existing software without any change while still reaping the benefits of mobile, cloud-based software that makes employees work more productive, accurate, visible, controlled and collaborative.

    First mile v. last mile may not have been intended in your discussion to reflect the geography of a supply chain. If not, I apologize. However, opportunity is available at both ends. I don’t see one as more difficult than the other nor the risk inherently higher. We’ve had customers that deployed enterprise ‘apps’ to their vendors to manage the first to last mile. Other customers have managed the last mile by collaborating with enterprise apps to coordinate the transactions of the employees with their customer.

    For the cloud to be effective for business they must use applications that were born there. Moving an ERP to the cloud yields no benefit. It is still an ERP and cannot innovate any change to how it ‘works’ in a time frame, cost profile or risk level that is acceptable. Yes, you can pay for it in a new way and you may find some savings on hardware platform maintenance. But fundamentally, these systems should remain where they are, doing what they do and be leveraged by native Cloud applications built specifically for business.

    Nearly 70% of a companies employees are the doers of business. They were purposefully ignored during the ERP market push of the late ’90s through today. Yet these are the people that feel the direct effect of changes in regulations, compliance, competition, products, channels, markets, corporate strategies, etc. These employees and those of your vendors and customers can leverage their existing systems without change AND reap the benefits of cloud applications.


  1. How much infrastructure are you willing to throw away? | Tanya Fisher - February 25, 2013

    […] How much infrastructure are you willing to throw away?. […]

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