Cloud Talk with Peter Coffee

Posted on September 28, 2009 by

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Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Peter Coffee, of eWeek fame.  Peter, as industry veterans may be aware, was eWeek’s Technology Editor, and is now Director of Platform Research for Salesforce.com, a leader in cloud computing.

Our conversation began with my blatant attempt at gaining insight about Salesforce’s strategic roadmap, knowing full well only the CEO can answer those type of questions, but you never know what you can glean from a non-response.  Hey, I gave it a shot.

Then the real discussion of our meeting began.  The economic advantages of the cloud computing model, comparisons of lifecycle costs (TCO) of services vs. acquisition + ongoing maintenance costs of legacy business models, costs of delay, and other detractors of legacy business models compared to the benefits of a public cloud offering like Salesforce.com, as well as the insights and impact of this coming paradigm shift.

We spoke of public and private clouds, advantages and disadvantages of the models, current industry concerns – security, fail-over, real-time mirroring, and several examples of platform application development speed with Force.com (Starbucks example), which is approximately 5X that of other approaches.

I remained curious as to how this brave new world would address integration of traditional CRM, ERP, and SCM across cloud vendor offerings for clients, and how those solutions would impact client’s IT Governance, IT Service Management, Business Process Management, Security Management, Assurance, and other areas.

From a public cloud services provider those are the provider’s headaches, but that model is but one of the business models of cloud computing.  How would other models impact these areas?

Ultimately, there will also be private clouds and hybrid clouds.

Even if an enterprise decided to use a public cloud for one of its applications, they would still have all those functions and have to ensure quality management of company offerings to its end user customers.

Will the ever increasing dependence on cloud service providers be an improvement or a detriment to be addressed through service level agreements and other arrangements?

This whole line of questioning led to what integration may look like, and the role of applications, such as, IBM’s Websphere and Oracle’s BEA, as well as integration providers like Cast Iron, Pervasive, Informatica, and Boomi.

Throughout the conversation, I kept wondering the impact on industry participants – systems, software, and a myriad of professions from sales/marketing, business development, consultants, services professionals, program, portfolio, and project management, to business process management, IT and corporate governance, and other technical and business domains.

While the IT industry will likely be ground zero for the coming changes, other industries will find they will be impacted as well, as entrepreneurs use these new models to compete more efficiently against existing legacy business models.

Which will be the growth areas as a result of this new paradigm?  Which will not?

For those sitting in the eye of the storm and already employed in cloud computing, the sun is out and the winds are calm, but for an industry observer like myself, deciding what step to take next, so as to not be drenched and swept away by the storm, there’s still a lot to consider.

Unlike Dell, who saw its strategic opening and is making its move.  I’m still looking for mine.  Any suggestions?

-Tune The Future-

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