It is all about the Cloud

Last week Mr. Steve Ballmer spoke about Microsofts commitment on the cloud. In itself this is nothing new, because it's a logical continuation of outsourcing complex and non core business related activities for the customers. I like to look at cloud computing, Software as a Service and all new buzz words from a customer perspective. Customers are seeking:

1. Convenience instead of sophistication, for a large part as a result that IT did not always deliver on its promise. Solutions need to be easy, simple and have a quick return on investment.

2. Solutions driving their top line instead of optimizing their bottom line. In the last 2 decades the focus has been on optimizing business processes and efficiency, now customers are seeking how IT can help to generate business or adapt to new business models.

Looking a the 5 dimensions Mr. Steve Ballmer mentioned in his speech from this perspective we get:

1. The cloud creates opportunities and responsibilities. The main customer opportunity is the collaborative nature of the cloud. It's a platform that makes it easy to share and exchange information and work with people from other organizations. The key responsibility for the vendor is to be a trusted partner and provide a reliable and secure environment that provides the capabilities to collaborate.

2. The cloud learns and helps you learn, decide and take action. I find it difficult to translated this statement into an advantage for the customer, unless it is referring to real-time collaboration between different organizations.

3. The cloud enhances your social and professional interactions. For long the impression was that all the social computing initiatives were just entertainment and didn't really provide any business value. I've always believed that social interactions and business interactions are closely related. Doing business is for a large part dealing with social interaction. The blurring separation between social and professional interactions does however require new infrastructures and collaborative environments.

4. The cloud wants smarter devices. It's NOT the cloud that wants smarter devices, it's the customer that wants to work anywhere and anytime! Different specific devices make this more convenient and the cloud can provide an infrastructure to centralize information and make it accessible to a wide variety of devices. However software development can't keep up with the daily emerge of new devices, unless we all adopt the web and HTML 5 as the new platform. The battle between propriety operating systems is going to slowdown the overall adoption of cloud computing. Only the large IT providers have sufficient scale to offer choice to their customers.

5. The cloud drives server advances that drive the cloud. The customer really doesn't care about this! It's like electricity from the wall, it always works and that is all I need to know.

Mr. Steve Ballmer, I'm available for some personal additional free advice.

Image credit: Wendy Longo


"The cloud learns and helps you learn, decide and take action" - Ballmer / Aad.

I think Ballmer means when you search Google, Bing or Synergy, the results should be less information and more value perception.

The value perception is orchestrated by the cloud services knowing about the user and then drawing on Web APIs in the Cloud.

Via a talk on SITI at PARC, there’s now 1800 Web APIs in the Cloud ready to be orchestrated into solutions. VC's are telling related portfolio companies, they won’t fund unless sites have APIs. (Last weeks 10 billionth Twitter message, being a case in point).

So far these solutions are coming as Social related apps. Travel, Music, Dating, I guess the security concerns are less, and Social Apps are a Greenfield. Business is Brownfield of Legacy apps, and the economy drives a period of innovation anorexia.

I wonder if Ballmer's talk is enough to tip the established companies to start building the APIs necessary to bring valuable Cloud solutions...

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