Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The cloud up ahead

Cloud computing has been looming over the business world for some time now (pardon the pun). The arguments for and against the adoption of cloud computing are well known: cost reduction and increased agility versus potentially decreased security. Can anything new be added to the argument? Actually, there have been several recent developments that, unfortunately, while relevant to the conversation about cloud computing, may not help advance the argument in one way or the other.

On the one hand, the increasing trend towards more mobile and powerful personal devices like the iPad (and ensuing tablets surely to come) and the Kindle point towards a consumer need to access data remotely, a feat most easily accomplished through the cloud. On the other hand, rising concerns about the privacy of information (think Facebook, Wikileaks and Blackberry in the UAE) seem to point in the direction for a desire to maintain proprietary control over data. Understanding that a company is but a collection of the individuals that work there and that, therefore, business decisions are usually reflections of those individual's tendencies, these two developments in the retail realm may help to understand businesses' future acceptance for cloud computing solutions.

The discussed trends, each pulling the argument is opposite directions may actually shed some light on the future of cloud computing. It seems that the most probable result is that rather than being a zero-sum game in which cloud computing solutions can only be adopted at the expense of more traditional in-house solutions, cloud computing will be adopted in those cases in which the need for flexibility and cost-reduction out-weight privacy concerns. Such a future may mean that potential businesses that once failed to get off the ground due to crippling IT costs may now flourish through the help of third-party servers and applications until their need for privacy and security is matched by their ability to afford secure in-house solutions.

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