“Cloud” computing has been around for quite some time now and while adoption may have been a little slow for businesses in the beginning it is projected that by the end of 2020 67% of business infrastructure will be cloud based*. The interesting thing about the shift to cloud-based enterprise applications is that in business timelines it’s been a fast shift.
A decade ago, the general sentiment was that cloud-based apps couldn’t handle the workload needed for high transaction environments or environments requiring complex processes. And to some degree that was true. As cloud applications became the norm for how we used apps in our personal life, there were still some challenged in applying that same technology in a cost-effective way for business use. It might make sense to have someone in sales using an online tool to track opportunities, it wasn’t always the most efficient solution for the production floor or the warehouse.
Despite some of the technology challenges, software providers needed to start finding cloud solutions as the market landscape changed and decision makers didn’t want the overhead of managing their own infrastructure. What ended up happening is that software providers cobbled together “cloud” solutions that were either only partially finished or were actually just on-premise solutions running on a hosted environment and then passed off as “cloud” because there wasn’t any hardware or software running locally.
Where enterprise software companies missed a huge opportunity was in looking into hybrid models where there current on-prem applications could potentially connect to a database running in the cloud on Azure or AWS. When a company is looking to purchase a cloud solution, they are generally looking for simplicity and not a specific infrastructure. The challenges with running on-premise business systems arise from having to have hardware for servers, keeping that hardware up to date and not always being staffed to maintain the equipment. The problems didn’t come from having to install a piece of software on the computer.
In our personal lives we still use applications that require local programs to be installed. The difference is those programs are accessing data from the cloud. iTunes and Spotify both offer client programs that interact with cloud data. There are still some limitations to what can be accomplished in a browser. And a native app running on your phone is technically running a hybrid environment because it’s installed on your phone and accessing information from the cloud.
When someone is selling cloud solutions, what they are really selling is simplicity. And the term cloud really doesn’t have the same special meaning that it previously had. This is just how things work now. As you are looking for systems to run your business you are looking for the following things:
Is it easy to maintain?
Is it easy to use?
Is it fast (enough for my needs)?
Does it give me the info I need when I need it?
Does it solve my business challenges?
So let’s start focusing less on infrastructure and more on solving problems!