Traversing the Clouds
In DC, I had the privilege of presenting in the Convention Center’s main ballroom THINKstrategies’ perspectives regarding cloud computing, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and managed services.
A year ago, less than 50 people attended my breakout session on this topic as these new services were just beginning to hit the radar-screens of government agencies as they anticipated the arrival of the newly elected Obama administration.
Last week, the number of attendees in my session was over twice the previous year’s total, the latest milestone in a steady rise which I’ve seen throughout 2009 of both public sector and commercial interest in on-demand alternatives to on-premise systems and software.
In the case of these government-oriented attendees, it is clear that the new administration’s push toward cloud computing is having a significant impact on their IT management policies and sourcing strategies. However, they are still uncertain about the true meaning of cloud computing and business implications of these services.
They are also very concerned about the security and reliability of cloud computing alternatives. These concerns were made very clear in a private luncheon session which I moderated during the NetworkWorld conference. Nonetheless, the representatives of government agencies and private contractors serving the government who attended the session recognized that the cloud computing movement is real and they must respond to it.
I had the privilege of sharing the mainstage on the DC Convention Center with Mladen Vouk, North Carolina State’s Information Technology Department Head, Professor and AVP. Mladen gave an excellent presentation regarding the university’s successful deployment of an internal cloud computing service.
Although his presentation clearly demonstrated the functional and economic benefits of cloud computing, the concerns of many of the attendees still represent an ongoing challenge facing on-demand providers, many of whom attended the SIIA’s OnDemand conference in San Jose last week.
The event was an important gathering of corporate executives of leading on-demand companies, as well as representatives of established firms trying to transition to SaaS and cloud computing models, along with a varity of entrepreneurs and investors.
The consensus of the crowd is that corporate acceptance of SaaS is rising, but confusion about cloud computing lingers. They also were frustrated by the current economic climate which is driving greater interest in on-demand alternatives, but also slowing the procurement process.
While the SIIA conference didn’t produce any revelations, it did confirm that the industry is likely to experience greater growth and turbulence in 2010.