At one of the recent conferences that I attended, I heard on how technology is disrupting and changing traditional business models. I could not help but resonate.
Today, traditional business models are completely being disrupted by technologies in "Cloud", "Big Data" and "Mobility". The traditional business models have been very mature for the last several decades and any deviation was considered implausible. Yet, with the advent of Cloud technologies and deployment models, with the new ability to extract, process large amounts of data cheaply (from "structured" and "unstructured" sources) on a real time basis and with the ability to easily to consume & visualize the processed information on a plethora of mobile devices, a perfect storm has been created in disrupting the traditional and existing "mature" business models.
The case is not just with a particular industry. In fact, any industry that you look to is facing this disruption.
Let's take a look at what has happened with the music industry. For the last six decades or so, music has been produced and consumed in a typical model - the music company would hire an artist, they would produce the music, then the media and then market, distribute and sell the media to the consumer. For the consumer there was relatively little choice or rather limited access. If you wanted a popular song, it was usually out of stock and if you wanted an obscure song it was never on stock. Of course, the format of the media changed over the years - from LP records, to tape cassettes and to CDs, but the so called "mature" business model remained the same.
But then something dramatic happened and in less than a decade everything changed. In 1995, MP3 was born - it was the raw data for music, the simplification of data and compression of data at-least by 10 times in a digital format. A few years later, in 1999, Napster went live which allowed for illegal peer-to-peer file transfers that resulted music companies to file several lawsuits. Two years later, Apple created iPod where you to store large number of songs onto a small device and then two years later, it created iTunes that allowed for online legal download of music. For the first time in the history of the music industry you could download a song for 99 cents. Today an iPod can hold 40 thousand songs and iTunes has crossed 20billion downloads.
So, what really happened? MP3 resulted in "simplification of data", Napster was the "simplification of value-chain" and the iPod was the "simplification of consumption" which created a perfect storm in an existing business model.
This was a technology led disruption of a major kind. For the consumer, this led to a tremendous increase in value creation - not only you have online access to all the music in the world at your fingertips but you could follow the playlists of your friends with great taste in music and give you much more and varied options, interacting and sharing music, than you've ever done before (think Spotify). The music company no longer had to produce the media, distribute the media and incur costs in storing the music. The marginal costs to bring a new piece of music to millions of customers became zero. This gave a dramatic higher value to the customer at a dramatic lower cost, driven by a technology led disruption to the existing business model.
The same technology led disruption is happening in every other industry - Retail, Manufacturing, Fashion, Healthcare, Life sciences and others, and changing traditional business models. Big Data technologies are bringing in "simplification of data", Cloud is simplifying the value-chain and Mobility is simplifying the consumption of information. Industries cannot afford to miss the opportunity of dramatically adding more value to consumers (and at significantly lower costs) and are looking at Cloud, Big Data and Mobility technologies towards remaining competitive in the market.
Within the various communities of people that I interact with, including colleagues, clients, domain experts, technical architects, sales executives, and others, I've often seen that cloud computing is predominantly linked to infrastructure and availability of infrastructure (servers, storage, etc.) as-a-service, even though there is enough evidence that it can be both "hardware and software" as-a-service.
In fact, cloud computing can be "anything IT" as-a-service, be it infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, software-as-a-service, storage-as-a-service, security-as-a-service, data-as-a-service, business process-as-a-service, dev/test environment-as-a-service, desktop-as-a-service, or API-as-a-service.
This brings up an interesting overlap with traditional IT.
Cloud computing can replace the traditional and manual methods of downloading, installing, and configuring development software (IDEs, app servers, and plug-ins) with an automated workflow based process, enabled via an unified Web interface/portal that will provide complete development environments as-a-service and on demand to software developers, bringing in efficiency and consistency. At the same time, it can integrate architecture repositories along with the various project and quality management tools and processes, including tracking tools, charts, and reporting dashboards via the same unified Web interface/portal, to provide well-rounded development/test environments on an "as-a-service" basis.
It provides a compelling alternative to the traditional EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) and ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) architecture patterns with a "Cloud Integration Gateway" that can not only integrate on-premises applications but also on-premises applications with SaaS applications/platforms in the cloud, and even integrate SaaS applications to other SaaS applications in the cloud, via a common orchestration layer that can abstract an enterprise from the lack of interoperability and lack of standardization in the industry.
Cloud computing provides innovative options to collaborate at work with social networking, micro-blogging evolving from a traditional theme of enterprise portals, identity, and content management.
It opens up newer options on how data is handled with ability to mine sources of data previously not feasible to provide "business intelligence, analytics, and data warehousing" as-as-a-service. It provides cheaper options for high performance computing leveraging the commoditization of Infrastructure. With the automation that it brings in, it provides better efficiency and cost savings on application maintenance and infrastructure management.
Cloud-based computing is the end state when developing or evolving an enterprise's architecture and cuts across various spheres of IT architectures. It is taking service orientation of applications and infrastructure to the next level.
Of course, all this is possible with an underlying layer of infrastructure that is virtualized and automated to be available on an on-demand basis, but cloud computing is not only about infrastructure or just an infrastructure deployment model. A holistic approach is required to realize the full benefits cloud computing has to offer.