The current buzz around cloud computing reminds me of a time in the late 90’s when I was on the practice green of a local country club and overheard two much older gentlemen talking about how they spent their morning on the “internet”. I thought to myself, “the world is changing permanently”. It feels like cloud computing is another of those game-changing moments in the history of technology.
I was recently doing a demo of a cloud based virtual workforce scenario using Office 365, Lync and Box.com to a group of lawyers planning a virtual practice. Three of them stopped the meeting and one said, “what is the cloud anyway”? It won’t be long before they are on the practice green talking about cloud storage and client collaboration.
There is little doubt that large enterprise organizations are facing a huge shift from on-premise enterprise wide, one vendor, homogenous ERP, CRM, ECM, GL, HIT and HRIS systems to heterogeneous cloud based, best of breed systems.
The “openness opportunities” of cloud based systems may seem like nirvana, but the devil is in the details. Organizations learn API integration may create an incomplete business process or limit the organizational benefits of the technology spend.
Many enterprise class IT organizations are wrestling with the independent and organic growth in the use of cloud storage and collaboration platforms such as DropBox.com, GoogleDrive, Box.com and SkyDrive. These cloud based systems create tremendous corporate risk, de-standardization and integration challenges. In addition, divisions or departments frustrated with IT’s time to benefit of needed functionality tend to adopt these independent of the governance of enterprise architecture.
While each of these cloud based storage and collaboration systems have API’s, they also each create integration projects for the enterprise IT organization that compete for capacity with the corporate IT operations and strategic initiatives. Many of these integration projects never meet the threshold for resource, and a blind eye is turned to the growing problem and benefits of using cloud solutions such as cloud storage and collaboration.
A wise man once said, “Innovation opportunities exist between existing technologies “. It is clear that opportunity exists in integrating cloud based systems and core business systems. The question is, are these just point-to-point integrations, or are there true opportunities for innovation with these integrations? Take a minute and think about it, is there incremental business value available in tracking the number and types of messages or extracting data from the integration of point-to-point messages for some other business purpose?
These additional benefits might include:
Monitoring for patterns of message types for market insight or risk management
Correlating message types across integrations to create a new message type
Implementation of Enterprise Content Management governance for certain message types
Implementation of Business Intelligence on message event data
This opportunity might see resurgence in costly, expansive enterprise information bus technologies like Tibco or BizTalk, or just might see the birth of end user centric information bus solutions. These systems might require some central IT management (similar to Active Directory) but just might also include end user empowerment to quickly see benefits and react to changing business needs.