Andy, what do you see as the main challenges facing the development of cloud computing?
Well there are huge challenges I think. At first we probably ought to understand what cloud computing is. I mean it is about firstly the delivery of information and applications directly to end user devices from, via the internet. It means buying things in a way which is more about per user. So you’re not actually having to own the equipment, so it’s hidden away from you in the cloud if you like, and I suppose when you think about those things, the biggest issues we’re going to face are: number one, security and the perception of security.
You know, this is important that probably we can make the cloud as secure as we can on premise equipment, I don’t think that’s the problem, but how do people feel about that? You know, there’s all these things about the Patriot Act, about can the American government get my data? There’s all sorts of questions about if a bank for example was storing your personal data and it was on the internet somewhere, would you feel as good about it as if it was locked into their data centre?
So that’s definitely one issue. The other I think is the end user service. For a very long time to come, what is delivered to individuals in the workplace will be a combination of legacy on premise things, private cloud solutions and public cloud solutions. When something goes wrong, will we know what’s gone wrong and will we be able to manage it? And I think those will be the two biggest challenges about it. However we need to be realistic. I think we are on a moment in history, you know, back in the 19th Century when you built a factory, you built an electricity plant to go with it, and then you stopped doing that. And I think, you know, in 20 or 30 years’ time, a very significant part of computing and storage power will be delivered to you from the cloud.
I think there are two really strong benefits from the cloud. One of which if you’ve got a small organisation or a fast growing organisation, then by taking cloud solutions you can avoid big capital costs, so you can actually, as your business grows, you can use more without having to face these big jumps of oh I need to go and buy another server or another piece of storage, all those things, so you can really, I think it’s very, very good for small, fast growing businesses. And we see a lot of that from force.com, salesforce.com and companies like that, Amazon, their ability to give you a website presence or a CRM system at very low cost and you can grow with is fantastic.
The other big area I think is big data, you know, when you have lots and lots of data, what are you going to do with it, you know, and there are some, you can really create cost effective solutions for people on big data. The final thing I’d say is it’s shifting power. Power in companies has been with the technology director, the CIO, chief information office. These days, very often on the cloud you can buy, the HR director can go and buy an HR service from somebody without going through the technology director, and I think that’s really changing the dynamic.
What do you see as the role for the CIO in that changed environment?
I think it is reminding everybody that they’re part of a networked organisation, that’s all about the service to the end user, it’s all about that security, and that you need to create coherence, even when you’re moving to the cloud. And therefore the issue for the CIO is to really become what they’ve always wanted to be, a business partner concentrating on information, concentrating on integration and ensuring that the decisions that are taken are good, solid decisions.
At Logica we would never sell something to a business player in a company without involving the technology department, you know, we absolutely want everybody to be working together on these things; we think it’s essential for the long term development of any client’s information. The cloud is talked about a lot. Most people aren’t through the journey of virtualisation, so they haven’t actually virtualised their own server and the storage has stayed, lots of people are still on mainframes, right, so we just need to be realistic about, you know, we have clients everywhere.
So we support our clients first and foremost by consulting around the cloud. You know, we work very closely particularly with Microsoft around Azure, about going in with Microsoft and talking to our clients about where will they get the first benefit. You know, Office 365 is a good potential example. But we’ve done some great stuff with companies like salesforce.com, some super applications on iPads using salesforce.com systems to deliver, for example for a couple of French insurance companies, an opportunity for the broker to sit there and use the touch screen to really bring a lively experience to bear when they’re selling an insurance product. Of course what we do is make sure all of that flows back into the regulatory systems, the financial systems, everything else in a consistent way, because all of that is by no means on the cloud yet.
Andy, that’s great, thank you very much.
- Andy Green was talking to Dr. Matthew Hinton about Cloud Computing after a recording of an episode of The Bottom Line.