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Five ways the cloud increases innovation and productivity

As one of the major step-changing technologies of this decade, expert Craig Deveson discusses how cloud computing has transformed innovation and productivity in the enterprise IT landscape…

Cloud computing is a combination of layers of new technology combined with business model innovation. The revolution in the core technology behind the creation of ‘the cloud’ enables us to approach business differently, creating new business models and is driving tremendous changes in how businesses (including the IT department) consume computing and software. As the shift to cloud computing grows rapidly and the rate of change increases, here are some of the impacts that it has begun to have on productivity and innovation:

1. Cloud layers
The cloud is formed from layers that can be broadly thought about as a pyramid of infrastructure, platform and applications. In industry terms we call them infrastructure-as-a-service (IAAS), platform-as-a-service (PAAS) and software-as-a-service (SAAS). The latter was the first to take off and is the most widely used at the moment; however IAAS and PAAS have great growth potential in the coming years. Businesses are likely to use a combination of these as-a-service cloud technologies in the future to respond to business IT requirements on an as-needed basis.

2. Business models
In the past computing and IT projects were very capital intensive. This generally meant long project time lines and due to the funds involved a conservative or traditional process. Competitive advantage was short-lived as competitors could easily copy the conservative automation.

With the advent of cloud computing experimentation is more affordable, so teams can experiment by only paying for resources on an as-needed basis. This means the feedback loops are shorter and staff have the confidence to try things knowing the process isn’t going to be excessively expensive or time consuming, which breeds new business opportunities and innovation.

3. Cloud consumption and use
Cloud is often best used when the workload is variable. Examples of this might be end of month processing where increased processing ability can be added to cope with the extra workload getting results faster and at a lower cost. Dev and test environments can also be provisioned on tap, so money doesn’t go to waste purchasing large amounts of hardware and software that sits idle. Cloud offerings also mean that disaster recovery and off-site backup are easier and more cost effective, since online archiving can be as little as a cent per GB per month.

4. Consumer expectations
Consumers have got very used to the Gmail, Facebook or LinkedIn cloud world and expect all applications to work this way on the device of their choice, be it desktop, mobile or tablet, in turn boosting productivity. Most mobile apps are cloud-based or have a cloud-based backend. Applications were not built this way in years past but now this is the base-line against which any new application will be judged.

5. The changing IT function
Right now the IT department is broken in most organisations! I’m not scaremongering – users are bypassing IT because they want the same sort of applications and service they are used to using outside the organisation so they are going direct to providers who can offer the service on an as-used basis. The IT and organisational challenge is how to connect these initiatives without stifling them. This means that IT personnel will become more analytical and developer-centric. We can also expect to see more of the IT function contracted out in the future.


Craig Deveson partners with cloud leaders such as Amazon and Google to build product and solutions for the local and international market. His first company Devnet was sold to Cloud Sherpas. His current start-up iscloudsafe365 which enables, integrates and accelerates cloud usage.