Cloud Computing and the Democratization of Enterprise Tech Usage

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 13, 2011

There is no question that cloud computing is rewriting standard approaches to technology infrastructure, but not everyone steps back and considers how dramatically that is happening from the perspective of IT administrators. As a matter of fact, cloud computing may be a profound threat to the jobs of many IT workers, since it removes the need for many tasks that were historically done on-premise in enterprises and organizations. InfoWorld has an assessment up on who wins and loses as cloud computing grows, and it matches much of what we've heard in our interviews with cloud computing movers and shakers.

As InfoWorld notes:

"CIOs used to have to deal with the occasional rogue IT project; now they have to deal with business managers who hire the equivalent of several IT departments using a credit card and their normal operational budgets, says Susan Cramm, founder of executive career-development and strategy consultancy Valudance, as well as former CIO of Taco Bell and CFO of a smaller PepsiCo restaurant chain. In fact, 65 percent maintain an IT budget of their own -- carved from their normal operational budget -- for SaaS or cloud services they can buy directly, rather than going through IT."

In other words, "business managers"--or people working at the departmental level in organizations--are arranging for their own virtual IT staffs and cloud-based technology platforms without even going through their IT departments. That's actually not unprecedented. When Local Area Networks (LANs) began to take off in the late 1980s, with companies such as Novell driving the trend, it was very common for departments of, say, eight people to set up their own LANs and manage their own data and applications on them, despite the protests of the IT department. Now, a similar trend is going on with cloud computing, and it directly threatens the jobs and hegemony of IT workers.

InfoWorld also notes a couple of stats from IDC:

"By 2014, one-third of all IT organizations will be providing cloud services to business partners rather than providing IT internally, says a poll of attendees at IDC's Cloud Leadership Forum in June.

By 2015, spending on public cloud services (including SaaS) will make up 46 percent of all new IT spending, says IDC's June 20 forecast of Worldwide IT Cloud Services. SaaS will make up three-quarters of that spending, giving SaaS and cloud providers the leading role in vendor relations with your company."

These are major shifts in how IT departments work with employees, and how IT departments work with service providers. All the way back in 2009, we ran a guest column from Brian Gentile, who is CEO of Jaspersoft, and a very well-respected open source analyst, on the "consumerization of information." In that column, which is worth rereading, Gentile provided a forecast on how open source technologies--along with web-based, or "cloud" services--would democratize technology choices in enterprises. He said:

"Simply put, enterprise information systems are beginning to require a simpler, more consumer-oriented approach to appeal to the younger generation of up-and-coming workers. I refer to it as the 'consumerization of information...' Software vendors that design products that work and display according to new web principles will fare well with this younger generation of workers. Those software vendors that do not will become much less relevant."

 The new cloud-based model for serving workers is feeding off this trend, and open source is growing with it as well. Many of the most interesting cloud strategies are based on open source components and platforms. Going forward, IT administrators must be acutely aware of these trends, or ignore them at their peril.

For more current thinking on the rise of cloud computing, see our recent series of interviews with cloud computing infrastructure providers.