To get a grip on cloud computing, try to think of how people make decisions on public transport, suggests Steve Hodgkinson, research director, public sector at analyst firm Ovum. Cloud computing is like a menu of transport options for organisations, he told CIO New Zealand during a recent visit in Auckland. “What we have now is a range of different transport options and they can think more creatively about their business needs.”
He starts with likening in-house, on premises IT to a Range Rover. “You know that vehicle will take you where you want to go. It is safe, reliable, but it is very expensive. It has a limited capacity for passengers. So if you have more passengers to carry one day, you need to buy another Range Rover.”
Getting a Smart Car is another option to transport two additional people. “It is a proper mode of transport but it is lower cost and smaller.” An example of a Smart Car option as compared to a Range Rover would be Salesforce, he says. “It is a proper enterprise grade offer, but it is lower cost, faster and easier to implement and standardise.” Cloud computing, could be considered as similar to public transport, a train. “You could transport 20 people on the train, no drama. Just go to the station, buy the tickets. Get on, get off, and away you go.” Amazon is an example of this. “You could buy tickets for a virtual server or storage.”
Though an extreme position, he says, is to think of cloud computing like a bicycle. “If all you want to do is go to a corner and buy a pint of milk, then maybe the bicycle is fine.”
Hodgkinson cites his experience of creating a wiki used by around 60 Ovum analysts around the world to collaborate on what he calls a “simple business process” – deciding topics to comment on in their daily newsletter.
Hodgkinson, who is based in Melbourne, says the analysts previously didn’t have a collaboration platform. “So I created that wiki. It costs nothing and it has been running for 18 months without any problems.”
This, he says, is an example of a “bicycle solution” via the cloud. “It is a very lightweight way of meeting a business need with IT. It is cheap and easy and convenient but it is not fully enterprise grade.”
“This is what cloud computing is about,” he says. “Business people have got more options as well as IT people.”
Cloud computing can change people’s thinking of IT, he says. “It is no longer the case [where] every journey has to be in a Range Rover… where every single IT system in the company has to be done on premise.”
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