The cloud is no cure-all, but neither is your data center

Don't let healthy skepticism around the cloud blind you to its core value

In an article in Midsize Insider, an IBM-sponsored publication, there is some gentle pushback on the concept of cloud computing: "For scalability or elasticity, the cloud reigns supreme, but for businesses that have outgrown the need for constantly shifting IT power, it may not always be the most economical option. As Wired points out, once a company can accurately predict its computing needs, buying hardware at a discount often contrasts advantageously with a public cloud solution for reasons of economy."

Logic says a cloud computing blog will spend the next 200 words picking apart this guy. But I won't do that. Indeed, I've always tried to keep a healthy skepticism around the use of cloud computing. I try to ensure that the application of this technology is truly in line with business requirements. I'm always frustrated with the guys who sell cloud-based technology as something that will lower your IT costs by 90 percent and make you breakfast. It won't do either.

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However, the value of cloud computing is not about efficiency of hardware and software in the cloud versus that of hardware and software you own. It's the ability to quickly get things going (aka time to market) and the ability to quickly change things as the business demands. This is the concept of agility, which is often bandied about as a cool buzzword but ultimately misunderstood.

The trouble comes in when enterprises view cloud computing as binary. It will either add a huge amount of value to your existing enterprise IT systems, or it will not. In my travels, I find the enterprises' ability to change or grow effectively is where they'll find the true value of cloud, rather than in operational cost savings.

Although the value may vary from enterprise to enterprise, there is almost always a reward to making it easier to grow and change. Let's all understand that asset as the cloud moves from pilot to production.

This article, "The cloud is no cure-all, but neither is your data center," originally appeared at Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.


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