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Are Enterprises Ready for Cloud Computing?

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cloud

Barry Lynn's Blog

There have been multiple white papers and articles written by analysts - Is Cloud Computing Ready for the Enterprise? The question is asked so many times now - Is Cloud Computing ready for the enterprise? So, I have to ask - Is the enterprise ready for Cloud Computing? I’ll start this discourse with a few PC and sincere comments (the two are not mutually exclusive unless one is running for political office).

First, I love Corporate CIOs and IT managers (not in a romantic way, of course, but with great admiration).

Second, they have the most difficult jobs in the corporate universe. They are the brains and the central nervous systems of large enterprises. They are also the most taken for granted of all executives. They represent cost centers who get no credit for their corporations’ profits, while keeping the corporation alive. If they achieve 99.99% availability of their services, an iota of kudos is given for that 99.99%, but a mountain of wrath is doled out for the other 0.01%.

Finally, I spent 27 of my 37 year career in information technology as an enterprise IT manager and Fortune 500 CIO. You guys and gals are my comrades.

So, why do I feel the need to put my comrades on a pedestal? Well, it started with some comments I made at a Wall Street conference and variations of it that I made to members of the technical press and analyst community. I used the following analogy.

If you woke up in the morning and read in the Wall Street Journal that an eCommerce company like Overstock.com had stopped using the USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc. to deliver their goods and, instead, leased airport hubs all over the world, bought a fleet of jets and bought thousands of trucks and started delivering the stuff themselves, you’d think they were out of their minds. So, why is is not equally insane for financial services companies, health care institutions, manufacturing companies, bio-tech companies, pharmaceutical giants, etc. to be spending a billion dollars or much more each year on information technology infrastructure?

Well, that analogy has prompted several to accuse me of thinking that corporations are insane and corporate IT managers and CIOs are stupid. I assure you that it not the case.

Then what do I do? I really put my foot in my mouth. I title this treatise “Are Enterprises Ready for Cloud Computing?”, as if to arrogantly proclaim that we are ready but enterprises are not.

But there is expiation for that as well (and I am not running for office, so this is a thought embellishment rather than flip flop).

Intellectually, of course you are ready. Of course you have the experience and skill to adopt Cloud Computing. And most of you have the resources. Most significantly, you have always risen to the occasion when disruptive technologies have been thrust upon you.

But, practically speaking, whether you, I or anyone thinks that the future holds a world where all enterprises will get computing on demand and only pay for what they consume, we know that this will not happen over night. I do see a world, though, in six or seven years, where this will be very much the norm and corporations owning datacenters will be the exception to the rule.

So, here’s where the Darwinian Theory of the Corporate Datacenter comes to play.

I have said many times that Cloud Computing is the most disruptive technology that has come along in a very long time. Respected technology analysts say it will be bigger than e-Business and it’s potentially a quarter of a trillion dollar market (that’s almost enough to fund a fraction of a war!). So, people ask me - Do you think Cloud Computing is a revolution or an evolution?

My answer is a resounding “Both”.

I believe that all evolutionary change starts with revolutionary change. In Darwin’s Origin of the Species evolutionary changes start with a mutation. Those mutations are the revolutions that result in evolution. In most cases the mutation comes about as a mechanism to heighten the chance of survival - you know, to make the species more fit. Subsequent to those revolutions, the evolutionary process gradually occurs as the most fit survive and the mutation becomes the norm - the standard.

More Stories By Barry X Lynn

Barry X Lynn is Chairman and CEO of 3Tera, Inc. He has a storied career in data center innovation and a deep understanding of enterprise customers and applications. He has over 37 years of executive experience in the IT and financial services sectors in Fortune 100 companies and as an entrepreneur. Early in his career, he was with Wells Fargo, where he was executive vice president and head of Investment Operations before becoming chief information officer (CIO) of Wells Fargo and Company and president of Wells Fargo Technology Services. In 1995, while at Wells Fargo, he built the world's first Internet online banking system. He was also president of Wells Fargo Securities Clearance Corp. and founder and president of Wells Fargo Securities, Inc. Prior to 3Tera Lynn founded Be eXceL management, Inc., a management consulting firm, which incubated early stage technology companies. Additionally he's a general partner of SVP II, a fully invested venture fund managed by Shoreline Venture Management LLC, and is a frequent speaker at IT events in US and internationally.

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