Clouds Aren't Optional Anymore


By Samuel Greengard

We've reached the tipping point with cloud computing. It's no longer a question of whether to use it within the enterprise, but where, when and how. Like mobility and social media, clouds are profoundly redefining IT and business. Resistance is entirely futile … and actually risky.

Let's face it, most organizations are already using clouds in some shape or form. Applications such as Salesforce are all the rage, and many organizations have turned to an elastic computing model to dial up capacity on demand. In addition, workers are using Apple's iCloud and Dropbox in rapidly growing numbers. However, consumer services, software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) are just starting points for a more agile and flexible IT strategy.

A growing number of organizations are also turning to platform as a service (PaaS). A few years ago, the idea of outsourcing tools and technology for development environments would have seemed unimaginable. Today, it's redefining business. A 2013 Gartner study indicated that the overall PaaS market will grow to $1.5 billion in 2013 and $2.9 billion in 2016.

Other categories are also making their presence felt. Gartner indicates that business process as a service (BPaaS) will grow at a global annual rate of 15 percent through 2016, and cloud management and security services are increasing at more than a 27 percent annual clip. IDC predicts that overall spending on global cloud services will hit $100 billion by 2016.

To be sure, this spike in cloud adoption represents a lot more than a trend. Clouds are now part of the fabric of business. IT executives must recognize that clouds deliver significantly better ways to manage processes, and they must stand at the forefront of building a holistic strategy.

IT departments that abdicate that responsibility will find that they're no longer in the driver's seat. These days, all it takes is a credit card to sign up for a cloud-based HR or marketing service. The process takes only minutes.

IT leaders must understand that cloud computing is now a critical and mandatory business component. It's essential to build in a high degree of integration across clouds—as well as with other tools such as mobility, social media and big data—in order to operate at digital speed. Savvy IT departments recognize that this new order represents a challenge—and a huge opportunity.