Last week, Appirio presented at the Cloud Connect conference in Santa Clara, Calif. as one of the conference's four LaunchPad finalists. Overall, it was a well-attended, interesting event with lots of debate around the various definitions of cloud computing, the benefits of private vs. public clouds, and the evolution of cloud standards.
All of these are valuable conversations, but at some point, I was itching to get beyond the theoretics of the cloud and hear more from real enterprise customers who were already using cloud computing in their business. What had they done so far? What was the motivation pushing them forward? What were the barriers holding them back? That was about the time I walked into the panel - Enterprise Adoption of the Cloud - which featured practitioners and strategists from the likes of ING US, Boeing and Morningstar and Stratafusion (doing work with VMware) talking about their use of cloud computing. Full disclosure, Appirio has been involved with some of these customers, but that aside, I still found the conversation refreshing on many levels.
- Although there was some theoretical debate in the panel, the bulk of the conversation focused on the practicalities of moving to the cloud. They discussed security, availability, licensing and such, but more importantly how they were getting beyond those issues with pilots, proof of concepts, partnering with cloud experts, or just making the leap.
- This panel (finally) got beyond the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) focus that dominated much of the show's agenda and talked about what the business was actually able to do on top of cloud environments. There was even consensus at the end that Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) was where they were expecting major advances.
- The benefits they pointed to weren't solely focused on lowering costs. Sure that was why many started on the path, but it was business agility and speed to market that ultimately prevailed. This is something Appirio hears from our own customers quite a bit.
- Here were a group of senior IT professionals who were very candid about how cloud computing has changed their job, and the legacy thinking they still struggle with in their teams. It was enlightening to hear (and I quote) "gone are the days of a CIO coming in and building a new data center. Moving forward, we'll put a router in the corner, give everyone money for a laptop and rent everything else as a service." This fits well with Gartner's prediction earlier this year that 20% of all companies will own no IT assets by 2012, but nice to hear from large enterprises as well.
While it's important to have the kind of theoretical debate that dominates cloud computing events and coverage, it's even more important to hear the perspective of companies actually going down the cloud path. This is what will inform vendors like ourselves in our own offerings, and will help the space evolve.
On that note, we'd like to highlight a few customer case studies on this blog going forward. Respond here or tweet us @appirio to let us know if you're interested in telling your story more widely.