The Golden Age of Cloud Services

By Christian Buckley posted 03-26-2014 10:21


We are in the midst of a transition within the content management and collaboration space, and the rate of change is only accelerating. There are so many moving parts, so many big bets being made -- from cloud-based software distribution, identity management and storage, to the federation and portability of conversations and data across enterprise applications, whether the infrastructure is on premises in the cloud, or something in between.


From a consumer standpoint, this acceleration in the rate of change is exciting, and the primary benefits are flexibility, amazing new functionality, and performance improvements. For the enterprise, these benefits also exist -- but with them come risks. With a high rate of innovation come unproven technologies and business models, with many vendors who could very well disappear overnight if they are unable to quickly gain customers or funding. And there continue to be management and governance concerns, which becomes more complex as each new service is added to an organization's technology portfolio.


But with change come choices, and business opportunities that just don't factor into our thinking today.


According to films from the 1950s era, by the year 2000 we should have all been living in a world of mechanized splendor (I'm still waiting for my flying car). However, many of the seemingly outlandish scientific speculations were grounded in very real technological endeavors, and, with hindsight, some predictions were not too far off from today's reality (minus the flying cars and duplexes on the moon). When I joined Microsoft in 2006, the annual company meetings sometimes included a video within the same vein of these old future-looking flicks of the 50s, providing a snapshot of the future. Some of the technology shown back at my first company meeting made many in the audience chuckle, and yet most of what we saw has now come to pass: touch devices in the home, your vehicle, your mobile phone, and at work -- with the ability to seamlessly move content and data and social interactions between these systems, allowing your artifacts to  follow you anywhere. (Of course, the big joke was that with every wall and surface now a touch interface, now is the time to buy stock in Windex - because of all the fingerprints)


OEMs and ISVs are making some wild claims, but my sense is that people are laughing less and instead trying to understand the underlying technologies within these claims. For example, Amazon's drone delivery was outlandish, yet within the next 5 years I have no doubt that we'll see same-day delivery of any product to any location in the world (percentage delivered via drone still questionable).


This transitory phase of the content management and collaboration space will soon be behind us, and many of the big bets being made today will either disappear or mainstream. It is my belief that many of the questions and concerns that limit our ability to  embrace some of the change underway will be answered, and I do believe that we will soon enter a golden age of cloud services. What does that mean? No matter what your requirements, or your current compliance or regulatory concerns, those systems will be in the cloud, fully compliant and secure, with access to a veritable cornucopia of cloud services and capabilities. These services will be plug-and-play, with federated authentication and data access allowing people to quickly, easily, and cost-efficiently add and remove functionality as needed, with management tools to dynamically recognize each service, allow oversight and governance, and keep your data secure and compliant.


Chuckle now, but its happening.

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