The Cloud Pays Off

Cloud Bus.jpeg

So for those of you who thought the cloud only pays if your a consumer of technology who is looking for scalability and flexible pricing models, think again. 


Bloomberg has an interesting article on how Adobe is growing their revenue by billions switching their apps to to the cloud. 


Instead of customers paying a one time purchase price for Creative Suite or Acrobat, now customers must pay for Creative Cloud or Document Cloud subscription fees that may sound small in the beginning, but really add up over time. 


And more than that, Adobe doesn’t have to worry about wowing customers with the next upgrade in order to get them to make another purchase, because as long as their products are competitive, the customers will keep paying their subscriptions fees money month after money month.


What’s better than making a sale to a customer?  Selling to them in a cloud subscription model that keeps paying and paying and paying. 


No wonder it’s better to have your head and technology in the cloud–it’s a true rainmaker! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>It’s Time to Invest in The Cloud

>Cloud computing is “shorthand for centralized computing services that are delivered over the Internet (a.k.a. the ‘cloud’).”

Cloud computing is to traditional computing as electricity is to rubbing two twigs together to make a fire. Ok. That’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but not by much.

Years ago, people made a fire in their home or workspace which they continually fed to get warmth, lighting, and cooking; now they get these from centralized utilities that distribute it to them on an as needed basis. It’s a lot more efficient that way!

With cloud computing—it’s very similar. Currently, we have our own computing resources (like a hearth and firewood) that we must purchase and regularly maintain to do basic information technology processes for transaction and analytical processing, information sharing and collaboration. Now, we can get these functions from centralized computing facilities or data centers that distribute them, as needed on a subscription or metered basis. This gives us a predictable, stable source of computing at reduced prices, delivered via the Internet, when we want and need it, and without the hassle of having to purchase and maintain the hardware and software infrastructure. It’s a user-centric model!

Most of us with very busy and already complex lives inherently understand and are drawn to a model that is convenient and cost-effective. Flip on the switch and voila—lights/heat in one case or email, e-Commerce, and online entertainment in another.

To me, if its not a mission-specific or highly sensitive application, the question is why shouldn’t it be in the cloud?

Fortune Magazine, 2 March 2009, on the rise of cloud computing juggernauts like Salesforce “a public company with a market capitalization of $3.5 billion, generates revenue of more than $1 billion a year—a 60% five-year annual growth rate—all from providing software subscriptions to business.”

Marc Benioff, their CEO says “We’ve always believe everything’s going into the cloud.”

Even detractors, like Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, has helped fund Saleforce and another major cloud computing vendor, NetSuite. Moreover, “Oracle at the end of January lauched a new version of its online sales-management product…CRM on Demand” —so you see where Mr. Ellison is strategically placing some of his chips.

What about the other major application vendors?

“SAP said it would be releasing a software-as-a-service product in May…and Microsoft also has customer-management software available. IBM just named a cloud computing czar, and Google and Amazon are launching ambitions initiatives.”

So what’s holding up the transition?

Generally, the biggest cited obstacle to moving to cloud computing is security. Yet, “Salesforce has recorded only one security breach, a phishing attack in November 2007.” Moreover, because of the scope, scale, resources, and expertise that these vendors have, they can actually deploy and maintain a level of security that other organizations may only dream of.

Never-the-less, “companies remain committed to owning and hosting their own software and despite the tough economic times, they are loath to try something new, especially if it means making additional investments, however meager.”

But in the end “cost cutting and convenience are expected to prompt more firms to rent software that will be delivered over the Internet cloud.” IDC projects that by the end of 2009, “76% of U.S. organizations will use at least one web-delivered application for business use.”

Further, according to research firm, Gartner, “of the approximately $64 billion spent on business applications in 2008, about 10% or $6.4 billion, was spent on applications housed remotely and delivered via the Net.”

The writing is on the wall or should I say in the cloud!

>On Demand Software and Enterprise Architecture

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The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), 19 September 2007 reported that SAP, the German technology giant (and world’s largest business software company—especially known for its enterprise resource planning software), will be offering on demand software to help capture more business among faster growing small and medium size firms. The advantage of this internet based appplication service model is that smaller companies who don’t have the money to purchase the otherwise pricey software, can now purchase on a pay as you go subscription service model.

Interestingly, the WSJ article does not identify this model as an application service provider (ASP), which is a business that provides computer-based services to customers over a wide area network, even though this is exactly what it is!

In general, there are a number of benefits touted to a organization using ASP services, and these are:

  • The ASP service provider owns, operates, and mainains the software and servers.
  • The ASP service provider adheres to service level agreement for availability, accessibility, and security.
  • The ASP provider ensures regular updates to the application software
  • Costs are spread on a pay as you go basis.

However on the downside, using ASP model limits (or excludes) your ability as a customer to customize the software or to integrate it with other non-ASP systems. Additionally, the customer organization may experience a general sense of loss of control by “outsourcing” the application, underlying technology infrastructure, and data store to an outside vendor.

ASP were a big deal around the turn of the 21st century when “the ASP Industry Consortium was formed in May 1999 by 25 leading technology companies. Founding companies included AT&T Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., GTE Corp., IBM Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., and UUNET Technologies.” (adapted from http://ecommerce.hostip.info)

For some reason, ASP seems to have become a “dirty word”. Even the latest market estimates for ASPs in Wikipedia dates back to 2003. Also, a quick Google search for applications service providers brings up a lot of information dated between 1999-2003. Even the current aspindustry.org website looks like crap. Apparently ASPs have all but fallen off the map in the last 4 years!

From a User-centric EA standpoint, the (ASP) model for on demand software is an option that should be carefully considered, based on the pros and cons for your particular organization, in developing target architecture for the enterprise. Indeed, many applications (like SAP) are being deployed using the ASP web application model, and we can expect this service to grow as an option, whether or not it is called an ASP in the future. Hey, maybe that’s what happened to A-S-P – it got transposed to S-A-P!